Installing the Shibuichi Pocket Inlay
Today is all about getting the shibuichi inlay into the stainless steel scales. As far as I’m concerned, this is the make it or break it phase. If I should fail to get the inlay properly in place, that is probably the end of this knife scale. There might be a second chance if I’m lucky, but even that would entail a LOT of extra work, so this is a very worrisome time.
Once the pocket was of sufficient depth and fit (side to side), I once again undercut the bottom edge, and then cut in a forest of tiny “hooks.” Using a flat graver, I cut parallel lines running the length of the pocket, and then went back at 45 degrees and cut a second set of rows. This left lots of tiny hooks on the bottom that the shibuichi beetle will catch not, helping to hold the inlay into place. For a more in-depth look at cutting these hooks, take a look at my “Beneath the Blood Moon” Pendant.
I’ve annealed the shibuichi beetle once again, to ensure it is as soft as I can get it. Above, I’ve used a small lead block and small hammer to seat the shibuichi inlay firmly into place. This little lead block works really well to provide a “dead blow” action, without marring the shibuichi inlay, causing the little hooks to dig into the shibuichi, and force the bottom of the shibuichi into good contact with the bottom of the inlay pocket, just in case it isn’t completely flat. This little lead block hint comes courtesy of Ford Hallam, and you can see it in action in Part 1 (at 11:40) of his film Utsushi – In Search of Katsuhira’s Tiger Be certain and watch Part 2 as well, it’s well worth the time.
Above, a view under the microscope. I’ve used the punch you see in the photo to begin punching down the raised steel edges of the inlay pocket – I started at the top (between the two blue arrows), then moved to the bottom between the two blue arrows. This locked the shibuichi into place in the center of the inlay pocket, so I could continue on around and punch down the rest of the raised edges down.
Thanks for looking!