Japanese Kiridashi

4 min

118 shares, 118 points

Often when we talk about knives or cutting tools of various kinds, it is inevitable that we end up discussing the quality linked to the geographical origin of the instrument.

It is precisely from Japan that a small cutting tool comes, the kiridashi, halfway between the knife and the cutter with the multiple uses we are talking about today: the kiridashi.

Japanese kiridashi is a legend of cutlery, a pillar of Japanese craftsmanship, like the Japanese pocket knife Higonokami, Kiridashi knives were long used in ancient Japan to carve wood or bamboo.

Over the years, many iterations of the traditional design have been created while retaining the iconic sharp tip and sharp edge of the chisel.

This unique but efficient construction allows Kiridashi knives to be used in various other practical activities such as gardening, removing splinters, cutting clamps, cutting ropes, tearing seams, general cutting, self-defense, drilling and deburring holes.

The name “Kiridashi” (切り出し) means “to cut” in Japanese.

The simplicity of Japanese Kiridashi

Traditional kiridashi has an essential and minimalist shape, as is often the case in the typical design of the Rising Sun.

In the simplest form it is just a flat steel bar with a trapezoidal shape.

The diagonally inclined end constitutes the blade, as in our lancet even if built with martensitic stainless steel of the class AISI 440 (US notation), characterized by a carbon content of about 1% and chromium content of about 17% (the minimum of 12% is exceeded because a non-negligible part forms chromium carbides with carbon); An example is steel X90CrMo18.

The peculiarity is in fact given by the asymmetrical bevelling: only one of the two sides is sharp while the other remains flat.

For this reason, kiridashi are found “right-handed” or “left-handed” depending on which of the two sides has been beveled.

There are different sizes depending on the use for which you want to use it: there are indifferent specimens from 9 cm in length up to 21cm, while the width is generally between 15 mm and 30 mm.

Over time this essential model has been revised and re-interpreted by many knife makers who have embellished the instrument by adding a series of details and decorations.

Nowadays it is easy to find specimens made with simple
carbon steel
, or other steels that combine from two layers of steel of different lengths (the hardest layer is always the one that will carry the wire).

Japanese Kiridashi

The versatility of Japanese Kiridashi

This “cutter” consists of a single straight cutting edge with a length of a few centimeters.

However, do not be fooled by the small size.

The Japanese kiridashi was in fact born as an inlay knife and stonemason, but over time it has been used in the most different ways as a work knife for warehouse workers, pencil tempera, paper cutter, etc. and all the daily uses in which you can normally come across.

Obviously its pointed design imposes some limitations, as for all knives on the other hand: the tip is an excellent tool for making precise cuts, but at the same time it cannot be used to make force or lever.

Japanese Kiridashi

Kiridashi and bushcraft

As is known, in field work situations, the tip of the knife is one of the elements that is used most frequently and that must therefore always be sharpened.

The kiridashi can therefore be a valid accessory to be combined with the classic knife, being specialized for this type of use.

The kiridashi is particularly easy to sharpen, given its shape and can therefore be refurbished easily after a demanding use and excursion.

Kiridashi and prepping

Surely, if you could, kiridashi would be a useful tool in an EDC, since there is no shortage of opportunities to use it.
Some American preppers use it as a “neck-knife” by storing it in kidex chainstays to always have a useful tool that can make a difference.

Kiridashi and self-defense

The Japanese Kiridashi is not a weapon, but a multipurpose knife but that also lends itself well to a self-defense action being very small and hiding well in the hand.

Clearly it is a tool that to adapt well to a context of self-defense must be adapted in shape and size to be able to ensure a secure grip in the case of use and avoid injuring yourself.

Japanese Kiridashi


Knife makers who start this passion often also start by making a knife like Kiridashi.

It is a simple knife to start putting into practice the first technical / constructive knowledge

The Kiridashi is a simple model that can give satisfaction and easily find employment.

The realization of a knife of this type requires few tools to be made and it is not difficult to build them with recycled materials: for this type of knives there are those who use the termone “scrapidashi”, made from scraps.

Even for the most experienced makers it is a way to recover portions of bars now small to make knives if not the blades of the closable in some cases and these are objects of easy realization.

Regardless of the level as a maker it is a matter of making a knife that has its own history and tradition and can be customized to make it more and more versatile and appealing.

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118 shares, 118 points
Andrea F

Maker and Enthusiast of Knifemaking. Other: Engineer / Professional Blogger / Bass Player / Instructor of Boxing / Muay Thai / Brazilian Jiu Jitsu / Grappling / CSW / MMA / Self Defence / FMA / Dirty Boxing / Silat / Jeet Kune Do & Kali / Fencing Knife / Stick Fighting / Weapons / Firearms. Street Fight Mentality & Fight Sport! State Of Love And Trust!


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