Weapons are cool but do you know what’s even cooler? Making your own weapons!

The YouTube channel known only as Koss is dedicated to making all types of handmade weaponry which includes swords, hammers, hatchets, and knives (which are basically smaller swords), just to name a few.

In this particular case, the weaponsmith takes an everyday file and turns it into a miniature Japanese tanto:

YouTube video

Shaping Metal File

miniature japanese tanto

First things first: you have to turn a blunt file into an imposing small blade. To do this, the weaponsmith cuts an outline of the tanto onto the file and begins whittling down the metal on a belt grinder.

Since files are made to be thick, he has to shave it down so the metal can be sharpened into a cutting tool. Using a marker as a guide, he also starts angling the grinder to create the sharp edge of the blade.

miniature japanese tanto

Once the grinding is done, he hand files the metal of the tanto handle before popping the entire thing inside a kiln. He then cools it off before sanding it down and filing a couple of indents for the blade collar.

Crafting Blade Collar and Spacer

miniature japanese tanto

Nested between the tanto blade and handle is the collar and spacer, a metal combination that protects your hands and strengthens the hold between the metal and wood.

For this tiny tanto, a brass collar and spacer (which are called a “habaki” and a “seppa” respectively) are used. By measuring the indents made on the file blade, the weaponsmith cuts out a piece of brass and hammers it to fit the shape of the tanto. This piece is then heated and sanded before being fitted onto the blade.

miniature japanese tanto

Making the spacer is a little different, as it has to be crafted in tandem with the blade handle. For now, it is just a square piece of brass with a sawn hole that will house the tanto.

Making The Handle

miniature japanese tanto

Wielding any blade requires you to craft a handle, and this particular tanto uses hornbeam wood for both its handle and sheath. The weaponsmith fits the blade into a piece of wood using a drill and uses an adhesive (possibly wood glue) to keep it from wobbling around. Once the adhesive has dried, he cuts an outline of the handle using a table saw.

miniature japanese tanto

With the handle shape roughly completed, he can now finish the blade spacer. Using the dimensions of the handle as a guide, he cuts off the excess brass so the spacer shares the same measurements as the wooden handle. He takes the spacer and the handle to the grinder before sanding them down.

Making The Sheath

miniature japanese tanto

Crafting the other end of the tanto requires the weaponsmith to measure out the blade and carve it onto two similar pieces of wood. These pieces are then glued together and cut to create the sheath. The sheath is set to the grinder before being sanded down to the same dimensions as the handle.

Putting On The Finishing Touches

miniature japanese tanto

Now that the tanto is almost finished, the only thing left to do is give it a final sanding, as well as some paint and polish and – Bam! You now have yourself an awesome-looking letter opener!

As mentioned before, if you want to see more DIY weapon making and restoration, the Koss YouTube channel is where it’s at.


Carlos wrestles gators, and by gators, we mean words. He also loves good design, good books, and good coffee.