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Habaki (Beginners Question)


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#31 Geraint

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 10:05 PM

Dear Denis,

 

 

 

I have lost the plot here, going now, to lie down in a darkened room.

 

 

Don't go to the darkened room just yet.  Ed has produced an ingenious solution except that the inner part of a niju habaki is essentially a slimmed down version of any other habaki.  In other words it is too rigid to flex by the ammount required as it has edges as well as faces and they are of the same length at the front of the habaki.  True the insert on the ha side stops short of the front edge where it meets the ha machi but in a habaki in good condition there should not be a split.  So very little flex.

 

I have spent some time looking at habaki and here are some thoughts.   As I already suggested the significant fit is the point where the habaki meets the machi and is effectively pushed against them by the action of the tapered mekugi.  If a sword is Shinshinto or newer one would expect the blade to be in near original shape and the habaki to fit all  round quite nicely.  One might expect the same in an osuriage sword, depending on the amount of polishing that it has undergone since suriage was done.

 

When a sword has undergone a lot of polishing then the kasane of the blade becomes thinner than the kasane of the nakago.  In the cases I have to hand and can find illustrated, sources are not very good at showing this point, the habaki fits beautifully at the machi but it does not fit the faces of the blade at all well.  For an excellent illustration have a look at the sword that Nick has recently posted, look at the shot of the blade in koshirae looking toward the tsuka from the blade. http://www.militaria...tachi-for-sale/

 

 The blade I referred to in an earlier part of the thread has a stunning silver niju habaki which passes over the nakago and seats firmly but there are quite visible gaps between the leaves of the habaki and the faces of the blade.  Once the tsuka is attached and the mekugi inserted the fit in the saya is amazing and there is no wobble.

 

I have not had the opportunity of seeing Brian Tschernega's work in hand but I suspect that a view down the blade toward the habaki will confirm that he has very skillfully made the habaki a tiny bit more generous as it fits the nakago and relying on an excellent fit at the machi.  We would all agree with Franco's point:

 

 

a properly made habaki whether one piece or two piece, should in fact slide without contact over the nakago, and still fit snug and firmly onto the finished sword when seated as well.

 

This confirms that we don't need to start inventing theories about hidden craft skills and the magic niju habaki, they are amazing pieces of craftsmanship, usually under rated and often overlooked.  Perhaps all such craftsmanship should be regarded as a little magical.

 

All the best.


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Geraint

#32 Michaelr

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Posted 17 March 2017 - 11:30 PM

Ok here are some pictures of my blade with the two piece Habaki that came right out of the factory in 1945. I was told that the blade never made it to final polish so could it be that the rather plain two piece Habaki was used before the final polish maybe like a adjustable Habaki just to hold into theShirasaya until a better or nicer one was fitted after?
I am away from home so I didn't have time to take pictures of just the Habaki I will when I get back if anyone wants them. This is my first time posting pictures straight from my iPad so I hope they work.
MikeIMG_2732.JPG IMG_2690.JPG IMG_2695.JPG
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#33 Dr Fox

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Posted 18 March 2017 - 12:28 AM

Just arrived back, wow its bright in here!

Hi Geraint, here's where I butted the wall :bang:

 

I had not accepted the habaki will not "snug up" to the blade sides.

But when pressured up to the machi.s, ha and mune it will resist movement.

I over read "snug and firmly".

 

Now i am out I'll stay for a while lol.

Cheers.


Denis

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#34 Geraint

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Posted 18 March 2017 - 10:26 AM

Dear Mike,

 

Thank you for the photos.  Personally I can't see the theory you were given having much traction.  No one makes a niju habaki as a temporary measure and finding one off the shelf to fit is most unlikely.  The condition of the nakago looks right for a blade that has come straight from the maker without seeing any use.  Polishing does not touch the nakago unless absolutely necessary so I can't imagine why this theory has come about.

 

Nice habaki and nice blade.

 

All the best.


Geraint

#35 Gilles

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Posted 18 March 2017 - 12:57 PM

Gentlemen,

 

I had a koto sword with a fake nij┼ź-habaki. It looked like a two pieces habaki but it was made of one solid piece. I remind me that it seemed to be tooled. But the general appearance was really good. Unfortunately I have no picture available.

I wonder why it was made that way, may be it was less expensive than a two piece habaki ?????


Gilles A

#36 nagamaki - Franco

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 12:05 AM

Ok here are some pictures of my blade with the two piece Habaki that came right out of the factory in 1945. I was told that the blade never made it to final polish 

 

Hello Michaelr,

 

The proper order of finishing a Japanese blade is to in fact have the habaki made before returning for final polish.

Based upon what you're saying here the explanation could be as simple as whoever commissioned this sword to be made chose and paid for the two piece habaki. I'm sure to be corrected by the military sword guys if wrong, but Japanese officers did have some leeway in selecting certain pieces.


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Franco

#37 nagamaki - Franco

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 12:12 AM

Hello all, I just thought that I would add some information that I have. I have a blade signed Endo Nagamitsu and dated may 1945. It was purchased in Japan in 1967 by a navy officer,from the sister of a military inspector who brought the blade home in a shirasaya in 1945 and returned to work and was killed in a bombing. The blade is in very good polish but I am being told because of the rather sharp ( or I could say very square) edges on the Nakago and around the Mekugi-Ana that the blade was never Finish polished? Anyway this blade is as is from the factory in 1945 in Shirasaya and has a two piece Habaki. Don't know if this helps but thought I would put it out there. Mike

 

Hello, wait, did this sword come in military or civilian mounts? 


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Franco

#38 Michaelr

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 02:26 AM

Thanks to all for their follow ups to my post. They were just thoughts from a newbie. Franco to answer your question as to what mounts my sword came in civilian or military- neither, the blade was brought out of the factory in a Shirasaya. What you see in the pictures is a spacer that naval guy made as he was going to try and mount it. But was never put into mounts.
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#39 nagamaki - Franco

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Posted 19 March 2017 - 08:17 AM

Hello,

 

If that's the case, a shirasaya is typically made after the habaki and also before final polish. At this point I'm not seeing much of a mystery where the 2 piece habaki is concerned, other than not knowing who made these decisions and why.


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Franco

#40 seattle1

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Posted 24 March 2017 - 02:57 PM

Hello:

 Franco's discussion of a habaki being made to fit over a nakago thicker than the blade above and yet fitting well when in place is not magic; its correctness relies on the fact that while the nakago might be thicker, the habaki is only meant to grasp the blade at the ha and mune, thus it can be slightly wider relative to the nakago sides and yet fit properly when seated in its proper place. This of course assumes that the nakago isn't substantially wider than the blade at initial machi and mune. A master habaki maker such as Brian Tschernega can readily fit such pieces.

 From time to time you see ugly friction scratching on the sides of a blade where a poorly made or substituted habaki has been placed, and that looks awful. I suspect it is common practice in Japan for a dealer to substitute a not quite right habaki for a better one when on the way to market, particularly to a Western market, with the tell tale evidence to be seen.

 Arnold F.


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