Friday 8 June 2018 at 06:48 Posted by Shadley Hax 0 Comments

Wow! This tsuka is massive. I fully expected it to be unwieldy but not only is it actually a lot better balanced than I though, the width of the tsuka to the width of blade ratio is really aesthetically very nice.

I took this on alongside a repolish and etch of a wakizashi. This blade also got repolished and reetched at the same time and the results I felt were really very nice.

On the right is a sneak preview of the finished sword.

I'm not sure what this blade would be like to cut with for me personally as my experience has been less Ryu oriented and more freestyle or backyard cutting and my choice of tsuka went very quickly relatively speaking from the longer 12" or thereabouts to as close to 9" as I could comfortably get with the blade length of the sword in question.

This sword is without question a display piece if that's what you're after, although it would undoubtedly make a fierce mat cutter also.

Hanwei have been known to create large and bulky tsuka for even their smaller swords so to remount this with a less disproportionate width of tsuka was awesome.

Very quickly, this photo will give you an idea of what I mean tsuka wise. The sword on the left is my katate uchi style katana, with a short tsuka and a light and nimble blade with bo hi. Obviously the one top right is the sword I will be remounting.

The tsuba had been polished and gun blued by the owner and matched up to some unusually thick seppa that he had made. They did however suit the sword well. if I had made the seppa myself I might have been tempted to do some filework on them but the straight down the line and plain appearance plays to the aesthetics of the rest of the sword.

But as I said, the seppa are thick and this meant of course that being as the tsuka I was going to use had already been drilled and the rayskin placed, I was going to have to perform surgery at the top of the tsuka itself in order to bring the makugi ana on the nakago into alignment.

This was gonna take some really careful work to avoid taking too much and the tsuka not being a snug fit. It's no use the thing looking pretty if it doesn't function as it should.

First thing I did with the tsuka was to wrap the ito all the way up and as far back down as I could. This lets me know before I start, that I'm gonna have enough ito to do a normal hineri maki and also saves exasperation at the end of the project.

Finding that your tome don't have enough ito to tie up properly is 'throw your toys' frustrating. It also allows you to clearly see the shape of the tsuka shitaji.

Tonbo, or dragonfly menuki for this one suited it well and they were flat enough that they would lay well on the rayskin.

The bump of the dragonfly body in the centre meant that I was able to have the head in the centre of the crossovers. It, hopefully, would all sit well.

The blade has a good heat treat that is even the length of the blade. This means that although laborious as most etch'n'polish procedures are, it was easy enough to bring out the hamon on the blade and to keep it from looking patchy. Nothing worse than a hamon that vanishes partway up the blade due to an uneven heat treat.

This is not to be mistaken for the hamon on the kissaki looking uneven. This can be caused by the change of angle at the kissaki itself. try a different angle and it should pop back into view.

There is a fine line between well defined and covered in oxides.

Here are a few more shots of the blade as it's quite nice to look at. I'll keep it brief though. As you can see, the colours in the blade come out very nicely and like most blades, are highly dependent on lighting. I find sunlight the best.

Sunlight and a garden where you can position things to show what you can see being as the camera is limited to a single snapshot it cant capture all the awesomeness. If you have a sword youre inspecting, youre constantly turning it in the light to catch all the detail. something that a single shot cant do.

Folding the hishigami. again. My favourite thing. most favourite thing in the world. Has to be done though. These ones are coloured using black ink. Another tip. Dont even colour your hishigami the same as your ito. just colour them black. it really helps hide them far better than attempting to colour match.

 This is my tiny corner of chaos. Everything I need is here. All the tiny frogs are trapped in a little black box. I have my pokey, pencil, higonokami, double sided sticky, clamps, sword care cit with mekugi, more pokeys etc...

If I have everything around me like this then I can disappear into my own world for hours, every now and then I'll pause and kid myself about how I need to make a cup of coffee before totally not doing that and continuing onwards.

Double sided sticky isn't traditional apparently. Well, you'd be right. Back in the day, the ito was stopped from sliding up or down the tsuka on the Ha and Mune sides not by double sided sticky, but by tree resin that was heated and wrapped up on a stick like a lollipop. so no. its not traditional but it works and is used by many tsukamakishi. So it's fine, however if you search youtube you can see the methods they use to rub resin on the ito and keep it in place.

 Given the fact that this tsuka is 15" long, I eventually finished it. I took a brief break to allow my fingers to regain feeling and then started on the end knots or tome. The rayskin had been adjusted to perfectly fit against the kashira and the knots fell into place just as nicely.

The picture on the left illustrates the Ura or inside knot. the side of the tsuka that sits against the body. The picture on the right is the Omote knot, or the knot that faces outwards from the body.

Now I actually did take a break. Right up until the point I of course panicked because I hadn't test fit the tsuka yet. I tapped it on and it didn't fit like it had. Fortunately I was expecting this. The tightness of the ito sometimes squishes the core enough that if the fit of the nakago to the core is exact enough, that little bit of squish can make it difficult to apply. I simply removed it and tapped it on again. Success this time. I just had to make sure that the mekugi was pulling the tsuka tighter when inserted rather than pushing the sword upwards; this is always a distressing concern if you're starting out doing this sort of thing.

The finished sword.

And I leave you with these glamour shots :) This sword is huge and yet with some time and effort and some nice colour choices and decent simple koshirae, it's been made to look beautiful and elegant. Ha! A hanwei that looks elegant. Don't often get that, right?

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