May 7, 2011
Continued from Shigefusa and his Whetstones.
After Iizuka san let me look at his Whetstones his two sons Masayuki Iizuka san and Yoshihide Iizuka san guided me to the workshop. The workshop is in a separate building from where we had tea and the whetstone workbench was.
The reason why the whetstone workbench is in a separate building you can read here:
Iwasaki and Jnats (part one).
Now let me guide how a kitchen knife is made at Shigefusa.
This is the charcoal furnace for free forging and forge welding. Only few blacksmiths use charcoal furnace now. You will see too that the work is done sitting on the ground and not standing like at Yoshikane Hamono.
Here the hammer and in front you see the cutter.
Now after the rough forming of shape by forging comes the next step which is unique to Shigefusa knives.
Younger brother Yoshihide san showed me how to grind the back side (Ura) of an Usuba with "Sen". The careful work with "Sen" makes the backside very flat and superior to other makers. Here again you see the work is done by sitting.
Here is the furnace for heat treatment and you ca see the round cover of the water container for water quenching.
After heat treatment and before the final polish with natural whetstones the knife is sharpened with a big water wheel.
Here again you see that work is done by sitting. You can see how a Yanagiba is set and Yoshide san bows over the big wheel.
Before we went back to the whetstone workbench house I asked the sons how many kitchen knives they make per batch and how long it takes to make one batch.
The answer was they do in batch of about 30 knives depending how difficult the knives are to make. They need 2 weeks or a bit more to finish a batch.
It is now simple math how many knives they make per year. A year has 52 weeks so Shigefusa makes about 780 kitchen knives per year. And they do it in batch so you can say every knife is done by Tokifusa Iizuka san and every knife is done by his sons.
It is also clear that you must wait at least 2 weeks till a custom knife is made. But Shigefusa has many back orders and the batch is not mixed with single bevel and double bevel knives.
So I indicate a waiting time of 3 months at What you can order and how .
to be continued....
The pictures are at my blog.