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Tang questions, Tanto knife

Discussion in 'Hammer & Tongs' started by running bird, Nov 15, 2016.

  1. running bird

    running bird

    Sep 29, 2015
    Pictures: https://imgur.com/a/4fgSk

    Before I work on forging a knife I usually warm up or practice on a less expensive steel like some 1080 square bar or a worn down file etc. . I want to make a traditional style tanto from a san mai billet I have put aside made of folded 1045 ( folded for looks)/ 1075 core. Before I go using this billet I decided to make a tanto from a file ( diamond brand file) so that I am familiar with what I am doing.

    The concerns I have are with the tang of the practice tanto, it seems a little short to me. The tang is just over 2.5" which seems a tad small to me when compared to the over 9" of blade. I'm afraid this would make the handle a weak point for the knife. I'm not very familiar with traditional tanto knives or hidden tang knives at all. Before I continue with the rough grinding of the blade should I forge the tang out longer or am I over thinking this.

    Any advice is appreciated

    Thanks for helping,
  2. JeffreyFogleboch


    May 13, 2009
    Traditional tanto have very short tang I agree. However they were used in war so I think there is plenty of material there. You can always make the tang longer if you want...I know I tend to make mine longer just because i like the way it looks ambit better

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  3. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    The tang on a tanto ( and wakizashi/katana) is a continuation of the ha and mune ( edge and spine) as it tapers down in the tsuka (handle). It has no sudden step in size like your sample. Later in togi, there will be small shoulders filed in for the habaki to seat on.

    The nakago (tang) can be very short and stubby, up to a full tang for an American tanto. I like more strength from the tang, and usually go with half to 2/3 the tsuka ( handle) length.
    Look at some of the Japanese blade sites and you will see the basic shape.

    That said, there are no hard and fast rules. Make the knife the way it seems right to you. Asking questions like this one is still a good idea, because it will give you reasons and background for making your final decisions.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2016

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