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Samurai!!!

Okay, so I’m no samurai, but I do have a sword! Bought it a while ago and I’m very impressed with the blade. It’s trappings, however, I was sorely unimpressed by and thought I could make that my next project. Today I went to a place in Watsonville called jackal Industries, and they sell hardwoods. Very cool place. I bought some ironwood, which I hear is actually a wood called Ipe. It is very heavy, doesn’t float in water, and very hard. I always thought that a scabbard of a sword could be as much as a weapon as the sword itself but the sprig of pine the thing came with would be a joke. I also got some African Paduk which is a very bright red. I took the tsuba and handle off of the sword and now I just have the naked blade. So anyway, I plan on taking one of the planks of Ipe (3/4″x3 1/2″x44″) and gluing the 1/4″ plank of Paduk to it. Then I’ll trace the blade onto the top of the Paduk as well as a generous line for the shape of the scabbard and handle. I liked the shape of the sword handle I saw in the Ninjai online flash movie series (which by the way is definitely worth the download time to watch!!!) and thought I would shape the entire handle and scabbard in a similar shape with the front of the handle bending down toward the apex of the leading sword edge. I might have to grind off some of the bottom of the nakaga to fit inside the odd handle shape a little, but we’ll see. Then I will rout out the inner line of the blade, being careful to leave some material near the tip and the top of the scabbard to help the blade stick. I am planning on a quick release leather and hook system but it would still be nice not to have the blade rattle around all the time. The handle I am going to have to be extra careful when routing because the nakago of the blade so it will fit very tightly to the plane of Ipe I’ll sandwich on top of it. I know this is crucial so I am a little nervous about it and I’ll probably use a dremmel the whole way with this part. After I get the sword fit tightly, and I sand off the paduk over the slimmer parts of the blades to make the woods match up well, I will glue the other plank ok Ipe onto the top and leave it in clamps to set. Then I’ll trace the pattern of the outer scabbard and hilt line on the outside and jigsaw off the excess. This should leave me with a very heave and hollow piece of wood. Then I’ll begin shaping the outside to a standard smoothness and such until I get something that resembles a sheathed sword. While this is happening I also need to procure a new tsuba. I do not really like the big round ones so much, for reasons of my own, but I do like the idea of something to keep my fingers off the razor sharp blade, so I am going to try to get someone to mold me one of sorts, which has a smaller oval and a gentle hook in the front of the blade, which I’ll also use to hook a loop of leather over to secure it. I’m not sure who I’ll be able to talk to about that yet, but we will preservere. So after the stick is shaped, and the tsuba and spacers are put back on, I need to make a generous cut in the middle of the stick to seperate the hilt from the scabbard. I can be a little generous about this cut because I scribed the size of the stick using the whole blade and the tsuba and spacers were not accounted for, but I need to give some space so when the nakago is being slid into place I can sand an exact angle onto the base of the hilt so it matches with the seppa. After that, I always wondered how they would be able to drill the holes in just the right place. Well I suppose they probably had the holes in the handle before the nakago, but who knows. I’ll probably just have to measure and be really exact. Then I can do the same to the scabbard and it should hopefully fit. Then I want to take it to my mom’s leather shop and see what I can do about doing the sageo and hilt lashings done in a black leather. Wet it first and it should shrink when it dries and bind the whole thing very tightly together. Well, enough talk, you’ll get to see pictures if it works out.

-Aaron