Japanese Tanto Knife Stand

Introduction: Japanese Tanto Knife Stand

About: I am an industrial designer and a maker. I like to make prototypes, unique pieces, equipment and other stuff. In this channel I will show you what I do, and in particular the making of design pieces, with var…

In the today's Instructable I will tell you how I made the stand for this Japanese-style Tanto knife. I can't show you the realization of the knife because it is a previous project of which, unfortunately, I didn't take any photos.

The stand was made of elm wood, using only manual tools, as the Japanese tradition suggests. The holes too were made with a hand brace drill.

Step 1: Sharpening

Before I started I sharpened my n.6 hand plane. It is better to lose a few minutes sharpening the tools so that you can use them to the fullest extent possible and make the job more enjoyable and fast.

Step 2: Planing

I then squared and smooth the piece by planing all the six faces. To square the shoulders, I used a wooden block plane, built by me, on which I mounted a 90 ° shore that guarantees that the piece is planed square. With a wooden carpenter square, I then checked that the piece was perfectly squared.

Step 3: Shoulders Tapering

Using a marking gouge, a sliding t-bevel square, and a marking knife, I marked the inclination of the sides I wanted to taper. I then planed the edges to taper the piece. The final shape was similar to that of an ingot.

Step 4: Refining Edges

I slightly beveled the edges with a block plane and some sandpaper and with some light scraper passes I made the piece perfectly smooth without the need to sand it. This type of finishing is even better than that of sandpaper because it leaves the wood perfectly shiny. Even thinner sandpaper leaves micro scratches on the surface of the wood, while razor-sharp steel gives you a perfect finish.

Step 5: Modelling the Knife Supports

To make the knife supports I took two wood pieces of the same thickness and cut and work them together so that they were identical. To make the grooves to house the knife, I used a rasp and a file. Later on, I passed them on sandpaper to smooth them. Finally, with a thin file, I made small fillets on the edges.

Step 6: Mortises on the Base

To fix the two supports on the base, I made two blind mortises. I first marked the position and size of the mortises using the two knife supports as a reference. I then removed most of the material by drilling some holes with a hand brace drill. Then I squared them using a sharp chisel.

Step 7: Bonding

The joint was so perfect that the glue would not have been necessary, but I thought that with seasonal variations in humidity they could loosen, so I glued them. I used some good wood glue.

Step 8: Finishing

To finish the piece I passed a couple of coats of boiled linseed oil with a cloth. I then let the stand dry for a couple of days.

Step 9: Final Shots

Here are some shots of the finished product and the knife. The knife, like every Japanese Tanto knife, is take-down. All the pieces are held together by a single peg called Mekugi. The handle and sheath are made of Ovangkol and briar. The guard and the peg are made of brushed brass.

As you can see from the pictures, the stand can also be used upside down to show the open knife.

Thanks for checking this Instructable. There is also a video of the realization of this shelf on my YouTube Channel. I higly suggest you to watch it to better see how this hand tools are used.

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    5 years ago

    Classy. Very inspiring.


    5 years ago

    Great looking stand! I'm just as interested in the knife and the casing for it. I have 3 tanto damascas blades I am finishing and want the same style of handles.


    5 years ago

    Great craftmanship & excellent choice of wood species - that video is almost meditational ;) Keep on the good work!

    Guido Vrola Design
    Guido Vrola Design

    Reply 5 years ago

    Thank you very much, my friend! Glad you like it.