I had the honour of being able to observe and assist as Pierre Nadeau of soulsmithing.com works on setting up his new smithy in Canada. The last time I saw Pierre and his wife was when they (and we) were packing to move from Japan in late 2011. Pierre spent several years working as a swordsmith apprentice in rural Japan and is ready to continue his research into traditional Japanese swords and historical crafting techniques.
The three major projects during the visit were focused on getting the forge itself ready for use. First was to fabricate a custom manifold for combined fuigo box bellows and electric cage blower, second was to insulate and lay bricks for the forge itself, and third was to create a support and wooden floor to support the fuigo and conceal the in-floor heating system and blower manifold.
part 1 - first look at the shop
The workshop has an interesting blend of high tech and low tech elements to allow him to work in the location and circumstances of the area. The hempcrete and timberframe building provide a natural sound and thermal barrier and the concrete slab is insulated and heated with an in-floor water system. The forge itself has several technical elements and additional insulation designed to protect it from moisture and ground heat-loss during the harsh Quebec winters.
During the early stages of tanren, the air must be slow and constant for a couple of hours straight for thorough heating without oxidization of the steel. A task traditionally reserved for an apprentice in order to allow the smith to carry on other work, Pierres solution is to install an electric fan under the fuigo with a valve system and manifold that allows him to leave the fuigo during this stage. In the video, the manifold and valve housing can be seen, the blower is yet to be installed. Wiring for a power switch to the blower runs up the front of the forge wall.
Show and I own the video. Ignore the titles, there is nothing interesting. The knife is made of forged 40X13 (analog AISI 420). Micarta scales.