Sakai Cutlery – used world-wide
Sakai’s world-class cutlery technology is said to have begun with the construction of tumuli in the 5th century. Metal construction tools were necessary when constructing the giant tombs, and this resulted in the cultivation of a class of iron craftsmen. Later, due to the civil war continuing from the end of the Heian period, there was a sharp increase in the demand for blades, and the manufacture of blades began in Sakai City as well. Once Portugal introduced Japan to firearm technology in the 16th century, merchants in Sakai mastered this technology and succeeded in the firearms business. The Sakai blade industry also began to prosper due to expanding sales of military swords. When the wars ceased in the Edo period, blade craftsmen began using their skills to create knives for cutting food. The cutlery craftsmen in Sakai City were the most skilled, but the production area was not well known. However, craftsmen now gather in Sakai City. As an association, these craftsmen have launched a brand called “Sakai Cutlery,” which is attracting attention not only domestically but from overseas as well.
Rough grinding, straightening, surface grinding
The blade is placed in a wooden vice, and the entire blade is roughly grinded using a coarse rotating whetstone through the application of an iron-handled lever. The flesh of the blade tip is sheared off and the angle is determined. Distortions are corrected atop a wooden table.
Buffing, straightening, chiseling
The blade is placed back into the wooden vice, and the surface of the blade is shaved down to determine its thickness. The coarse texture applied by the whetstone is buffed down. The blade is chiseled atop an anvil, straightened and retouched to make sure the whetstone is applied evenly.
Final grinding, dulling, straightening
The blade tip is grinded and an edge is applied. While the edge is being dulled, a temporary edge is applied and the blade is straightened again.
Back grinding, edge buffing
The back created through the forging process is grinded further and a well-formed depression is completed. The edge is buffed to smooth out the grain and grinded even thinner. The blade is further smoothed using a 120 and 220 grit buffer.
Wooden-whetstone grinding, straightening, edging
The texture is smoothed out using a rotating wooden-whetstone. Emery is applied to the blade, which is then buffed and given a fine back surface. Later, distortions are corrected, and the blade placed in a vice and rubbed with a wooden block (oak, etc.) along the ridge line in order to highlight the ridge line.
Gradation, fine-sharpening, wiping
Power from the whetstone is kneaded into a muddy substance, which is then placed on a rubber block on which the cutting edge is rubbed. This dims the soft iron portion, and the central portion of the blade develops more of a sheen and blade pattern (between the sharpened and unsharpened sections) becomes clearly visible. And finally, the blade tip is sharpened using a finely-grained whetstone. This removes burrs and gives the blade a sharp cutting edge.
The water is thoroughly wiped off, and oil is applied to prevent rusting.
Finally, the blade is completed by attaching a handle and placing the product in a box.