Japanese Marking Knives

October 2003

Another batch of marking knives.

Small knife mounts in production

Batch of 6 knives

This is a small mixed batch of the Japanese kiridashi marking knives. The blades are a few different sizes; 15mm wide, 18mm wide and 15mm double-edge (left and right hand carpenter's marking knives)

The double-edge has a much more blunt angle in plan view, and a Vee shape with two edges. Completely useless for carving, but it's a better angle as a marking knife for carpentry. It also works either left or right handed. The sharpening angle is similar, but a little less acute.

All of these knives are sharpened Japanese style, with a single bevel. They're intended as marking knives so they're extremely hard, and this makes them a little brittle. I wouldn't recommend them for carving (although they're certainly sharp enough), but they are good for paper and some craft purposes. Using them against a steel rule can nick the edge (doh! - I learned the hard way), so I'd suggest an aluminium one.

Saya for the narrow knives are 1" across, 1/2" thick and 8" long. The shape is a rounded "cigar". A little wider wide for the 18mm knives.

I finish with shellac, either blonde (translucent light tan colour, when finished) or black shellac. The usual button shellac (mid-brown) or a red ochre colour would be possibilities too.

Small tanto-style knife and mount

18mm single-sided knife, with saya

Mounting is by a pair of mekugi (bamboo pegs) through holes in both blade and mount. Small knives like this are usually mounted with fixed pegs, unlike swords that are demountable for cleaning.

Octagonal 'shira saya' style mount for a small knife

Octagonal style mount - plain waxed "bare wood" finish

Wrapped hilt

Kami hira maki wrapping

Kami hira maki style hilt wrapping

Tsuka maki (wrapped hilt) is usually applied to full-size swords with large hilts, but I tried out a simpler form with kami hira maki (a flat wrap without twists) on these small aikuchi style mounts.

Wide and narrow styles, in red and black

Wide and narrow styles, in red and black

Narrow knife, in black

15mm narrow knife, in black

Ura (reverse) side

ura side

Marking knives

double-edge vee-style marking knife

The double-edge vee-style marking knife

Wrapping in black on black lacquer

Wrapping in black on black lacquer

Knife box (for Hirez)


Knife box - closed

Storage box with two-part swivelling lid.

Knife box - open

Materials: red cedar, oil finish

Jarkman made something similar, about the same time.