Hearth and Forge

"It became clear to us throughout the forging process how raw steel can be shaped and manipulated to achieve different volumes and balance weight." - Author: Kurtis Major Photos: Max...
Aogami Bread Knife

 A new bread knife made in collaboration with Otsuka Hamono from Tottori, Japan.

Yoshida Shoya is famous for this blade design which comes from the Tottori region, and now only two smiths are still making it, one of which is Otsuka San.

While Sakai City near Osaka is well known for having a high concentration of skilled bladesmiths, Tottori is located in the region in Western Japan, formerly known as Inaba, famous for the iron rich sand which is used to make high quality Japanese blade steels. The few remaining bladesmiths in this sparsely populated region are deep with their craft. Tottori in particular has a strong history of the mingei (craft) movement led by Yanagi Soetsu's follower Yoshida Shoya.

Otsuka San is a 4th generation bladesmith. The waiting list for his knives is 1-2 years long, only accepting orders from a limited customer base of clientele he respects and knows will understand his work, namely a few restaurants in Tokyo, Paris, and Milan.

The Terasu Aogami Bread Knife by Otsuka Hamono will change your perception of slicing bread. The curve of the blade extends the cutting edge, providing the extra length needed to slice cleanly through the bottom crust. This knife will excel slicing the toughest sourdough and the most delicate pullman loaves.

Aogami #2 blade steel has excellent edge retention, yet still shows exceptional hardness when made using skilled hand-forging and heat treatments. 

Keep them nice and dry when not in use to avoid rust, which can be cleaned off with a light abrasive.

$265.00

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"It became clear to us throughout the forging process how raw steel can be shaped and manipulated to achieve different volumes and balance weight." - Author: Kurtis Major Photos: Max Houtzager Location: Sausalito and Oakland, California   After several other projects in cohorts with Jorgen Harle and Kurtis Major involving much cooking (over fire) and forging ferrous and non-ferrous elements,  each of our passions for gastronomy inspired by our surrounding environments made for a natural progression to develop a set of grill tools. Whether cooking directly over nothing but a small fire, or using some form of mild steel like a large plancha or cast iron pan, it felt awkward to wield highly treated, machine stamped aluminum or stainless cooking tools. After several discussions around fires for different occasions, we dove into designing and prototyping a set of tools that are better suited to real grilling- by way of using pure materials, and simple strong designs with longer handles, driven by traditional forging methods. A coffee spoon snuck its way into the mix as well.Our lead cooking tools craftsman Kurtis Major shares a few words around the process of creating these grill tools below.We developed the grill sets directly from the need to have cooking instruments that can hold up to the demanding use of cooking over open fire. These tools also aim to begin a new conversation around design and function. In doing so we hope that the user can feel something deeper and gain a clearer sense of the implications of cooking over fire. It is not something employed simply to impart smokey flavor to food or provide a better char, or just an option to cook when camping. In order to achieve this goal, we would try to make tools that are balanced and comfortable in use but driven by the forging process, in the same way grilled food is shaped by the fire. While our initial drawings were specific to function, close observation of how the raw material wanted to be shaped and formed changed the design greatly. It became clear to us throughout the forging process how raw steel can be shaped and manipulated to achieve different forms of volume and balance weight. Observing the volume and movement of molten metal around each tool influenced the tactile feeling of the tools significantly. We ended up with two sets, both durable and balanced but one with a lighter and more nimble construction, and one with a more elemental feel.      Hearth and Forge
"We decided to take the aesthetic form and material driven nature of California craft and combine it with a deep Japanese tradition. Functionally and visually there is synergy between the two. " - Author: Kurtis Major Photos: Max Houtzager Location: Tottori, Japan   Despite it’s small size and sparse population, various friends of Terasu in Japan have unexpected connections to the Tottori Prefecture. One of the lesser known regions, Tottori is part of what used to be called the Inaba region, where iron sands are abundant. On a brief visit to Japan this May for the first edition of ‘Preview’, we also found ourselves on a trip to Tottori wth little specific intention beyond wanting to get a feel for the peculiarity of the area and learning about the local craft (Mingei) movement that occured. A friend happened to introduce us to the blacksmith, Otsuka San. Upon meeting, it was not long before Kurtis began sketching a knife outline on top of a bench with a deer pelt laid over it. We discussed the needs and styles of Otsuka San’s limited clientele (he rejects most business due to having too many orders, and is in fact famous for declining work for the widely known Aritsugu Knives from Kyoto), considering a variety of shapes and the qualities of each blade steel he uses. After continuous back and forth and some sample testing, the gyuto and petty knives he made for us are now available.Kurtis shared some thoughts about the collaborative experience with Otsuka San on creating the knives below. Daisen 2018I woke up against the grain Split between a sliver and the high carbon steelSomewhere the molecules got lost, maybe scraped off from force The fuzzy sides still wet with yesterday’s comfort, terminate as the axe dropsPlunged to the bottom we find no lifeOnly shredded remains. 500 years worth of struggled growth In shadow cast winters, warmth mildly touches tips licked by the midnight frostFelled for her beautyTorn apartShe now lives in the Pure Shiny Cherished for what she was. The spring heat was still heavy before the summer rainy season in a late afternoon haze. Both sides of the road were flanked with half planted and half tiled rice fields, a sign of the changing seasons. The ambient heat in the car began to grow as our excitement ignited. We were unsure of what we would find there. We were exploring Tottori because of its rich yet lesser known history in the Japanese craft movement of Mingei. Our guide Kyoko had arranged several studio visits, one with a renowned knife maker who still practices traditional forging techniques. He is one of the few smiths with access to the more rare blade steels made by Hitachi including Aogami #1, #2, and super (aogami means blue paper). Aogami has a much higher carbon, tungsten, and chromium content. What separates Otsuka San’s knives from other Japanese knives you often see on the us market is that he still uses a traditional cock forge, with designs and temperature control techniques that have been unchanged for centuries. This allows the steel to maintain its precious carbon while it is being heated, unlike gas forges that strip carbon from steel.Each knife begins as two raw pieces of steel, one smaller piece of aogami (blade) and one larger that is the low carbon or soft steel (body of knife). This softer steel provides protection for the blue steel in the form of cladding. In the process of forge welding the blue steel is inserted in between a “v” shape made of lower carbon steel. Both pieces are then heated to white hot and hammered together using an early 1900s belt driven power hammer. Once the two pieces are forge welded together they become one piece of steel, with the blue steel only exposed at the very edge of the blade. From here the knife blade begins to take shape. The continuous hammering and drawing out of the blade is specific to each blade design. We worked with Otsuka San to make our blades thinner and lighter but with more weight in the tang, along with a more hybrid outline that blends the western qualities that lend well to Californian cuisine, borrowing some key traditional Japanese elements. The knives are tapered from the tang to the tip of the blade with a thick section where the blade meets the ferrule. This thick section holds a greater amount of mass that allows the user to actually feel the weight of the knife despite how light it is.When we set out to make a knife set the goal was to focus on the conversation between materials, the blade, the handle, and the ferrule. Often times in Japanese knife making the handle is an afterthought with a short lifespan, made from magnolia wood with a plastic or horn ferrule. Thus it is inherently not made to the same level of craftsmanship as the blades. We decided to take the aesthetic form and material driven nature of California craft and combine it with a deep Japanese tradition. Functionally and visually there is synergy between the two. For the new Tottori knives we once again are using windfall California oak that has been charred and waxed, set with the blade including a pure copper ferrule for added durability. We wanted to follow this same direction with our new bladesmith, Otsuka San. View the knives on our store here. Tottori Knives

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"The point is inside of you. It’s between your heart beat and your breath, your board and your body, when all of nature becomes one- the time and sense that does not fit into what we know as language. That is the ‘point’ " - Author: Key Masuda Photos: Kazuyoshi Sasao Location: Australia /Japan   Materiality, circumstances, placement, your body and mind- all are never are perfect. Everybody has an equal chance to ride a nice wave, however there are only a few people who are able to attract waves like a magnet and do so.  You must have knowledge and skill. You must train your sense as well. Those who can do all of that- you might call them a ‘waterman’. Last summer I met someone who may have that sense, skill, and power. His name is Yoshiharu Komiya. His van is filled with surf equipment. You can find everything from standard polyester surfboards to an inflatable surf mat, an Alia, a hand-plane made from a variety of woods he comes upon (managing a recycling program for farms and schools). Most of people would see this as an unnecessary amount of equipment, especially from a minimalist perspective.  In my opinion, perhaps he has that approach due to his observant nature. He sees the ocean’s many faces, and wants to be able to feel close to every situation by using the right tools. Komiya San can ride a variety of surfboards, achieving near the maximum potential of each board.  He uses his keen senses to find his own spot, catching waves even in the most crowded of conditions.  No matter the other surfers he encounters, he can smile and create peace. If you ask him about what he is most aware of that gives him this power, he will say “It is essential to never lose sight of the point.” During a trip to Australia was when he realized the “point”. How to put air inside your body, taking a deep breathe on a takeoff, breathing for big waves, training for no breathing. The subtle ways to finding a path to feeling nothing, allowing you to breathe correctly.  This is what he learned from Surf Mat pioneer Mark Thompson. He also experienced this spending time with Tom Wegner, witnessing his sustainably conscious life, approach to surfing, and family. The love he has found in life is what allows for his unique surfboard shapes. His method of connecting different woods, ascertain a variety of materials, the process of shaping an Alaia with zero waste.     This discovery of learning a process from a variety of aspects, combined with a consciousness that relates to breathing is what made him realize ‘the point’. This point is not just about balance on your board, shaping the right board, and riding a wave. The point is inside of you. It’s between your heartbeat and your breath, your board and your body, when all of nature becomes one- the time and sense that does not fit into what we know as language. That is the ‘point’. When I heard that he felt this way, I thought there were other reasons he felt this way.     Surely what he learned in Australia was already a part of his experience, individual to him, from long before. I cannot help but think that through meeting various people, the small points inside of him join together and become larger ones, attracting waves, attracting people, and creating space and composure to be able to create peace and harmony. That point is not just communicated through the ocean, but through all of one’s daily existence, reflected throughout one’s entire path through the world. Surely today Komiya San interfaces with himself, his family, friends, and with nature the same way.     In the near future, Komiya San wants to trying surfing in highly frigid locations with his crew. To be able to surf in a cold location while on a trip with others provides for the extremist conditions for conflict to occur. Plus, time in the water is limited, yet he would be able to find something that acts as a medium for finding another new point. I look forward to learning what kind of point he finds.   Point | Komiya
- Photos: Max Houtzager Location: Sausalito, California   "Craft is something that has no form. It is an abstract notion unique to each and every individual's interpretation."- Professor Yamamoto of Iwaigama Ceramics, Tottori, Japan Last autumn we worked with local artist Kurtis Major (Locust House / Birdview Distillery) on creating 'Petrichor', a small temporary gallery space which currently resides at Marinship Studios in Sausalito. Kurtis recruited fellow Bolinas and Inverness based artists Jorgen Harle and Ido Yoshimoto to help with some of the more difficult wood work and hand forged metal fabrication. The space was designed within the temporary building restrictions and is moveable via forklift. It is conducive to a variety of exhibition types that can fit into a 10x12 foot space but stray from the typical white cube format. The design was inspired by the environment it was made in, Gate 5 in Sausalito, and the natural materials available in the area. 'Gate 5' in Sausalito was documented by photographer Pirkle Jones as a famous houseboat community where rules did not apply and many pivotal artists, thinkers, and builders worked and resided. The structure relies on traditional joinery methods, with a roof inspired by a combination of one of our favorite Mono-Ha artworks by Kishio Suga and traditonal boat hull construction. A burned exterior and floor to ceiling glass wall based on some nearby barges and boats, which likely drew influence from Japanese design in the post war era as many builders and architects at the time were getting heavily into Japanese design principles at the time. Materials were mainly Monterey Cypress from Evan Shively at Arborica, custom fabricated mild steel, and a copper roof. Machined metal fabrication and digital engineering of the structure was taken care of by Ezco Design.  The first exhibition, 'Detachment from Craft' is on view by appointment only until the end of July. It features work by Ido, Jorgen, and Kurtis, along with Nakaya Yoshitaka and Shinta Nakajima from Mount Fuji and Tokyo respectively. Like Petrichor itself, the artists all work primarily in metal and wood. Ido and Nakaya work with a variety of local wood. Jorgen is a blacksmith and Shinta, a silversmith. Kurtis is a jeweler by trade, but often finds himself working with both. All five of the artists create work that is functional and utilitarian, falling into the category of craft, while some pieces would clearly be categorized by most as art. The Petrichor space and 'Detachment from Craft' exhibition intentionally blur these notions. Throughout the process of building this space and putting together the exhibition, Kurtis and Jorgen began prototyping for the first Terasu Gastronomy collection. After receiving positive feedback from our gyuto and paring knives that Kurtis worked on, we were inspired to delve deeper into cooking tools that fit our ideas for illuminating new perspectives through food. We're now fulfilling our first pre-orders, and hosting a dinner on the water nearby Marinship Studios to experience food foraged, fished, and cooked by Ido, Kurtis, and Jorgen, in the context of having awareness of the materials, techniques, styles, and tastes that we gravitate towards as a result of our surrounding environment. Tickets to the Petrichor Artists Dinner are available here.    Petrichor | Detachment from Craft