Forging Japanese Swords

  • This site is a window into the world of Traditional Japanese Swordsmithing through the experience of Apprentice Pierre Nadeau and his mentors as well as a resource for those wishing to learn more directly from the source.

Pierre Nadeau

  • Originally from Canada, Pierre Nadeau spent several years as a traditional swordsmithing apprentice in Western Japan. Learn More

  • « A little learning is a dangerous thing;
    drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
    these shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
    and drinking largely sobers us again. »
    Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744)

    « In the end a job is not just a job,
    It’s who you are
    If you want to change who you are
    You have to change what you do »
    Repo men

  • Sumihira MANABE demonstration at Rencontres d'Aubrac

    Sumihira MANABE demonstration at Rencontres d'Aubrac

  • Timberframe Assembly

    Timberframe Assembly

    The new forge frame is coming together nicely. Ceiling is finished, walls framed and ready to begin hempcrete fill.

  • Terres d'échanges Japan

    Terres d'échanges Japan

    The series of 12 programs is a voyage of discovery about 24 people, including 12 Quebecers, as well as 12 countries! Argentina, Laos, Haiti, Japan and Sweden feature amongst the intended stop-off points along this international journey, and at the same time these expatriates share their thoughts on Quebec and its inhabitants with us. Watch…

  • Iron smelting pellet maker

    Iron smelting pellet maker

    A small scale high-furnace is operated at Les Forges de Montréal. It is supplied with charcoal and iron ore. In order to improve the furnace's efficiency, the ore is prepared into pellets. This ingenious tool facilitates the making of those pellets.

  • Teko-zuke


    The teko is the tool — a plain bar — that is used to hold the steel block to be forged. The said block is welded onto one end of the teko. This video shows Manabe Sumihira performing such a forge weld.

  • Moving back was hectic. Now what?

    Moving back was hectic. Now what?

    Nearly ten years in Japan… If I would’ve known, I probably wouldn’t have done it in the first place! I wouldn’t do it twice, but I’m better off with the cultural heritage I now bear with an equal amount of pain and pride. A book will be required to go through exactly what happened and…

  • Nepalese village blacksmith

    Nepalese village blacksmith

    In early April 2011 I had the opportunity to visit a traditional village blacksmith while in the Fikkhal area, Eastern Nepal. In both India and Nepal craftsmen are still considered as the lowest cast and I could see this man lives simply. He was extremely peaceful and very pleasant to be around. He produces mostly…

  • In preparation for tanren

    In preparation for tanren

    Japanese traditional sword making is bound to the use of certain types of steel which are the product of ancient manufacturing processes. Without the use of such steels, it wouldn’t be traditional japanese sword making anymore. It is not possible to use those steels such as they come from their maker. In the old days…

  • How to make a te-bōki

    How to make a te-bōki

    Useful hand-held straw brush and tool The te-bōki (手箒 lit. “hand-broom”) are extremely useful tools during forging to hold down hot work, brush away scale, push back hot coals, hit apprentices (!), etc. At first sight they look pretty simple, but their making requires a bit of practice so that they become tough and rigid…

  • Making aku – Fabrication d'aku

    Making aku – Fabrication d'aku

    Aku, or charred straw, is used as a coating when forging traditional steels at very high temperatures in the processes of japanese swordsmithing. The charred straw is both a light source of carbon for the steel, as well as an anti-oxidizing coating when it liquifies near welding temperature.

  • Sumi-kiri san nen…

    Sumi-kiri san nen…

    Sumi-kiri, the elaborate cutting of charcoal by apprentices is said to take three years (san nen) to assimilate. I'm obviously a slow learner for it's been over five years and my charcoal is far from all right. But what's all the fuss?! If you ever tried shoveling gravel, you'll have noticed it's a lot easier…

  • Sumi-kiri – Charcoal cutting

    Sumi-kiri – Charcoal cutting

    Sumi-kiri, the cutting of the charcoal by japanese swordsmith apprentices, as poorly performed by me. In this video, one strike out of ten is ok, while all others made me frown… size wrong.. size wrong.. swing wrong.. size wrong.. strength wrong.. size wrong.. wrong angle.. and so on. It is said it takes three years…

  • Kata: Making a sword pattern

    Kata: Making a sword pattern

    A good to way to learn proper sword sugata, or silhouette, is to make a kata, or pattern, from 1.25-1.5mm thick sheet of mild steel. I bought a full sheet and cut it in about forty 5 cm wide bands of various lengths. The longest tachi won’t usually exceed 100 cm of zen-nagasa (full length,…

  • Tool handle wrap

    Tool handle wrap

    There are several ways to wrap a tool handle, usually with plain rope. I'm presenting one here, used on the teko, the bar used for tanren.

  • Kata – Sword Patterns: Tanto – Aizu Shintogo

    Kata – Sword Patterns: Tanto – Aizu Shintogo

    Tanto – Aizu Shintogo Shintogo Kunimitsu is known as one of the best swordsmiths to have ever lived, and a master of the tanto. This is a tracing of the Aizu Shintogo, a tanto listed as a Meibutsu. Download this PDF file which provides detailed measurements of the tanto. (right-click on link and save file)…