Alabama Forge Council Bladesmithing Symposium, Michael Bell on Japanese Swords


An older article from Swordforum Magazine.

” This year, the Alabama Forge Council’s (AFC) annual Bladesmithing Symposium featured special guest Michael Bell – a swordsmith from Oregon and one of the premiere smiths working today, trained in the Japanese tradition by five-year apprenticeship under Master Swordmaker Nakajima Muneyoshi in 1970.”

The rest of the article is available here.

Article and photographs by Adrian Ko.

4 Replies to “Alabama Forge Council Bladesmithing Symposium, Michael Bell on Japanese Swords”

    1. Dear John Dinterman,

      Was your question about carving tools in regards to wood or metal carving on Japanese swords?

      For our metal carving tools, nearly all of are made by ourselves at Dragonfly Forge. These chisels and other tools are made from old files or high carbon steel, which we forge, heat-treat, and temper (if needed) ourselves.

      For scabbard carving chisels and triangular carving knives, we have also made our own from a forge-welded laminate of antique wrought iron and high carbon steel. My father also still uses the set of Japanese woodworking chisels that Mr. Nakajima and modified and re-purposed for saya (scabbard) carving during his apprenticeship over 40 years ago.

      The Japan Woodworker in Alemeda, CA does sell a line of scabbard carving chisels (saya-nomi) and carving knives. However, because they are in a style different than that which Mr. Nakajima used, we do not use them ourselves.

      We are also considering making our own of saya-nomi and carving knives for sale. If you are interested, please check our website again later for updates on these or contact us directly.

  1. i have a certain type of sword i would like to have and i think i’m oing to have to have it made, but i don’t have a lot of money. this is how i want it made: ninja blade and handle no gaurd when finished it will look like a staff ( like in the movie blind fury with rutger howard i think thats how to spell his name) also in the handle end a medium length daggar that can be used with or wihtout the sword being removed. then on the other end to have a concelled shocker tip ( like a cattle prod). can this be built? and how much. if you can’t build this maybe you can tell me who can. thank you BILLY ROBINSON

    1. Dear Mr. Robinson

      While your proposed sword project looks interesting, I don’t think it is something we can do at Dragonfly Forge. While all our blades are as sharp and tough as we can make them, our emphasis is more on the artistic elements and classic design.

      Forty years ago I asked my teacher, Mr. Nakajima, about ninja swords. He said he had never seen a sword that could be described as such. Ninja were so secret that they would never keep a sword that would reveal their profession. In other words, if a ninja even owned a sword it would appear very ordinary.

      I don’t know of anybody who might be able to do your commission, but I wish you success in your quest.


      Michael Bell

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