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Tsuka Construction

Building a sword hilt

By , 3rd January 2009 in Myself

Inspired by a video on YouTube I have decided to have a go at making my own Tsuka (hilt) for a short Japanese blade using some blocks of wood and a few sword fittings I have been collecting.

Inspired by another of Hyourinsama's videos on YouTube I have decided to have a go at making my own Tsuka (hilt) for a Japanese blade. I have purchased a tanto blade that I am going to use to carve a wooden handle, wrap with ray skin and bind with a cotton ito (cord).

This is not a how to guide! This is a documentation of my efforts as I learn more about Japanese swords.

In the first video about tsuka construction, Kevin describes the choice of wood and the basics of how to carve out the shape of the tang. Because I have not done any woodwork for at least 10 years I have just got some cheap redwood to practice on. Once I have mastered the woodcarving I will progress to the proper wood. Like Kevin I have gone for two thin pieces instead of splitting a larger piece.

In the pictures shown below you can see the tanto blade with my hand for scale, an assorted collection of sword parts I have been collecting, including a few seppa (washers), Fuchi-Kashira, some ito cord, a nice tsuba (it may be a little large for the tanto, but I have plenty more). The habaki came with the blade and was made for this blade to ensure a snug fit. The final picture shows what a completed tsuka should look like.

Over the next few weeks, I will be updating with my progress. Wish me luck!

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Comments
  1. NanyooKo
    NanyooKo

    You don't need to practice on redwood. Try using the recommended poplar wood . It works very easily and you get a functional tsuka core when you are done. Took me about four hours to inlet for the nakago, fit the fuchi and kashira, and rough shape the handle. There are a few places on ebay where you can buy the samegawa, and also the tsuka ito.

  2. NanyooKo
    NanyooKo

    Oh, one more thing, the tsuba for a tanto is hard to find. You may have to make your own. Maybe find a piece of metal ( brass ,iron , or copper) about 0.2 inches thick and shape to desired proportions. Or maybe take a ready made katana tsuka and grind it to a smaller dimensions.
    If you are in England, there is a good source there for the samegawa or shagreen, Pietro Dura .

  3. NanyooKo
    NanyooKo

    So, is the third picture your finished work? I am also new to making tsuka and tsukamaki, and after doing my second katana tsuka, l found out what adjustments I need to do to perfect the task. It gets to be an interesting hobby. I'm even trying to redo the tsuka on my cheap non-cutting wallhangers that came with plastic tsukas. Now I want to know how to make my own habaki , fuchira and koshira.

    1. Tim Trott
      Tim Trott

      Actually, the third picture is what it should look like. Emphasis on should. I keep trying though... one day!

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