Below are some of the tanto which Jeff is very fond of in terms of the use of a precious wood both in saya and tsuka, following the same exact grain pattern. The different tantos are presented from left to right in a growing amount of coloration, from light to darker.

For this reason of Jeff's fancying precious wood mountings, and after consulting with him about different woods, we selected birdseye maple and used bufallo horn for fittings as a way to bring contrast.
Sometimes, innovation is going back to the roots as was in this case where the use of any silver mountings and other woods would cost too much.


The optimum size of a large tanto is a 12 inch nagasa such as this one which dates from the 16th. century Muromachi period. Analizing the tanto below it shows very slight sori, even at 11.02 inches. It's main purpose was piercing armours in weak points during combat hence the need for a long tanto to have sufficient reach to disable during combat.

Suggestions for a tanto size should be 12 inches nagasa, 5.5 inches tsuka and 13.5 inches saya.

This is a basic design for an aikuchi tanto in which, elements like sori have not been taken into consideration. The main issue is to show the most basic fittings and give way to a reference for the choice of wood, color, and how fittings shoud be made in terms of which metal to use combining with wood coloring. The menuki is a variation of the traditional shirasaya.

This is a rendition capitalizing on a traditional horn fittings tanto where a little bone has been inserted between the horn and the wood to provide a more unique design. Horn goes well with almost all types of wood in a light to medium dark or reddish color. It is easy to make and can render quite surprising effects. Though it has been carefully drawn, the black and white drawing can provide a deceitful view as if the black areas are not properly aligned. It is just an optical illusion.
I used horn to design the fittings for this wakizashi.

Blade Style: Hira-zukuri in -Kissaki
Nagasa: 12"
Nakago : 4 1/2" long

Steel: Forged Folded to a fine number of layers
Overall Length: 19.5 inches
Saya: 13.5 inches long made of Birdseye Maple with alder liner
Tsuka: 6 inches long made of Birdseye Maple
Koiguchi (mouth of the saya): continuation saya made of Birdseye Maple lined with alder.
Kurigata: Horn, # 24 for tanto size by Fred Lohman

Kojiri: Horn and bone. The horn should be 8 mm thick and the bone 2 mm
Kashira: Horn and bone. The horn should be 8 mm thick and the bone 2 mm
Mekugi: horn mekugi inserted and surrounded by a bone square inlay in a diagonal position as in the renditions.
Tsunakushi (or hook for tanto): # 3 medium size by Fred Lohman

Note: The tsunakushi is placed at a slight angle as in the rendition.

Tsuba and fuchi: Very small tsuba aikuchi style, 6 mm thick. Can be done together with fuchi also lined with bone same thickness as in Kojiri or Kashira.

Habaki: Copper in a parallel pattern as seen on rendition.

Hamon: Choji gunonme midare - Irregular or wild. (Clove blossom pattern undulating hamon)
View samples of Choji gunome midare here and here .

Wood finish: Semi-matt polyurethane varnish.

This is a rendition of the shirasaya type mountings with birdseye maple, horn and bone. The hamon is just a simulation obviously. Blade is hira-zukuri.

This is a view of the reverse side with black horn rounded kurikata and tsunakushi (hook) both in horn, available ready made here, from Fred Lohman. (tanto size) #24 and #3 medium.
Note: Again, this is a rendition and does not take into consideration the blade's sori.

The forged folded hamon detail with some sunagashi

Full view of tanto

Copper habaki by Chris Gleeson

The finished mountings by Will Graves



Concept by BLADESIGN