Monday 30 October 2017 at 12:04 Posted by Shadley Hax 0 Comments

Ok. This is the bit that I've been dreading. This isnt a cosmetic habaki to demarcate the tsuka from the hamachi, this is to actually hold the damn thing together. Knocking up the blade was easy. Building a habaki was frustrating, disheartening, but eventually, it all started to come together. I thought I'd show you the yuk before the yay!

OK, so this is where it all started.
Firstly, it literally involved using a chisel and hammer to knock two large cuts into the back of the piece of cut copper and then clamping it to a piece of metal the thickness of the blade I'm looking at using with it.

Secondly, I used a combination of a lump hammer and a rubber mallet to attempt to convince the metal to form an L shape. By the time I'd done this, the damn thing needed re-annealing.

Eventually, I was able to fold the rest over the metal 'template' and into a U shape. Unfortunately, at this point one side was longer than the other and the fold has worked its way so it looked all wonky. Because it's such a small piece, holding it in my hands and attempting to whomp it with a hammer served as a reminder of exactly how fragile fingers can be :/

Fortunately, Eventually I managed to get the shape I wanted. I left one side slightly longer than the other until I'd formed it completely. I didnt at this point want to throw away all that work, pain and blood. These things are tricky bastards.

This, is the machigane. It is a slim piece of copper that sits at the join of the two ends of the habaki's 'U' shape so that when they are formed against one another, there is no gap. solder and flux is used to affix the machigane and prevent it from coming apart. The insides are filed to make the best fit possible.

The best way to fit this is to place it inside the habaki once the shape is made and it fits the nakago, flux to high buggery and then heat with a blow torch and apply whatever solder youre using to complete the join.

Adhesives have also been used, especially with smaller knives like this, so use your smarts and go with whatever seems best is my advice. I opted for solder as my dad had given me some especially and I like blowtorches. :)
The piece of copper you end up using gets smaller and smaller and smaller. You really dont know how small it needs to be, or should I say thin? ...not until you try it. I have to admit, this whole process has been tricky as hell and this is my first real attempt at making a structurally sound habaki rather than just a blade collar for aesthetics.

so, if you're more practically minded, you may find it significantly easier than I did. Also, I am making do with basically, files, clamps, coping saw and stubbornness.

Picture provided against a UK one pence piece for size comparison... and this was probably still far too fat.

This is what the habaki looked like once I'd gotten it structurally sound. It may look like crap atm, but the joins are joined, the ha and mune machi are in there so the blade will sit firm and, well... basically, thats the tricky stuff all done. Now I have to hope it all fits correctly still, trim it where it needs to be trimmed, make sure the bottom of it is perpendicular to the mune of the blade and make it look pretty.

_ALL_ I have to do. :/
And a little closer up shows how rough it really is atm. That'll get better though. I havent come this far to have it look like a piece of crap.

Well, thats the theory. I think what Im going to do is to see if I can double layer a seppa. One seppa will have a cut out for the habaki, but the one underneath will not.
This will mean that the base of the habaki will be countersunk and the edges will be hidden. Not that the edges are a problem, I just want this blade to be definitely something I've made and not just copied piecemeal.

I haven't even started with the carving of the tsuka yet. This is because I want everything to line up as best as I can manage, along of course with any fuchi/koiguchi adornments I decide to add to it.

The way this is going, Im umming and arring about whether to peg it or to glue it. This after all isnt going to be for me and I'm not sure the recipient will be taking it apart and maintaining it.. so maybe glue, wood treatment, and varnish is the way forward. Who knows. I'll figure that out later.
Stage Two Complete
Blade is pre heat treat but shaped, tsuka and saya fit fine but are unshaped, habaki is pretty much done but needs more refinement.
Next step hopefully will be, functional but not prettified.

Stay sharp kids ;)

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