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Custom Koshirae


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Good morning all (night in the USA),

 

I recently acquired a wakizashi (nihonto) with shirasaya and would like to have a koshirae made. It's dificult to have the sword shipped from/to Spain so I was thinking, as I've worked in carpentry, to try to make my own koshirae by myself following the traditional proccess and materials for it.

 

What I'm asking here is a little bit of help finding pages of genuine information about the making of a koshirae, if possible.

 

Of course, I'm making my own research but I will appreciate any kind of help you could provide.

 

Thank you very much in advance

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Carlos,
This is not something we advocate on the forum, for traditional blades. It takes many, many years of study to be able to make proper saya, tsuka etc etc.
None of your carpenter tools are going to be of much use either. Japanese scrapers, saws etc are not found in the usual carpenter inventory.
Saya especially...if you do not know what you are doing, you are going to be scratching and damaging your blade.
"Craft of the Japanese Sword" has some good sections which will show you what is involved, and why it should be left to the experts. My advice, leave hobby work to the non-traditional swords and repros.

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Dear Carlos.

 

If your reply indicates that you have given up the idea of making your own koshirae then this comment will be of little value.  However in general terms the exercise is one which will teach you more about what makes a good koshirae than you can learn elsewhere and underscores the subtleties and complexities of what a lot of people assume is quite a straightforward process.  Given that traditionally several craftsmen would be involve, each of whom will have served a lengthy apprenticeship then the task becomes a little daunting.  Doing it at all is a challenge, doing it well is another matter entirely.

 

Both books mentioned are recommended, though I found The Craft of the Japanese Sword a revelation when I first encountered it.  The later work that Grey mentions has much better photographs for the most part but nether work deals with anything other than shirasaya.  One book you should have is Thomas Buck's book, The Art of Tsukamaki and his website is work some study.

 

While Brian is absolutely correct to say that specialist tools are used in Japan for this process it is quite possible to do with Western tools if you are skilled though you will need some patience.  As your wakizashi has shirasaya in which you will continue to store it for it's preservation then I don't think any harm should come to your blade.  You will want a tsunagi to hold the koshirae together.

 

Two absolute rules are NEVER use any kind of abrasive paper on the inside of the saya, detached particles will wreak havoc on your sword, and DO NOT be tempted to use modern adhesives, a little too much squeezed into the inside of the saya when clamping can cause damage.  

 

Whatever happens you will end up with a European koshirae which will not add to the value of the sword, if anything it will make it harder to sell.  You will certainly never recover the money you will have to spend on fittings and materials let alone your time and skill.  In short you will be paying quite a bit to learn a lot.

 

All the best.

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Despite what I could say on the topic, i will limit myself to warning that modern adhesives can severely damage blades through corrosion due to fumes etc that they give off; some research on bladesmithing sites have discussion of this. 

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While I agree that you should leave koshirae-making to the experts, that doesn't mean you can't try creating parts of it. There's info on tsukamaki at http://www.militaria.co.za/nmb/topic/28665-tsukamaki-stand/, for example, & an excellent book on the art of tskumaki, http://www.tsukamaki.net/tsuka/.

 

Please let us know if you decide to try your hand, Carlos.

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Everyone knows you need to spend 10 years in Japan training under a master to be able to make a tsuka.

 

Seriously, it's not that hard if you are a woodworker and take your time. Couple people(untrained) in the U.S make them for people who actually use their blades for cutting and they don't explode or damage anything. Some of the things on here make me roll my eyes.

 

The Saya on the other hand is a different story and I won't comment on that.

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The thing is that if I have to send to an expert the blade to have the saya made, then I'll rather have everything made by him.

 

The problem I'm seeing is the import/export laws for weapons in my country, which are really severe. Anything received from outside Europe will be inspected by customs, specially blades/guns. So I think my options IN Europe are really... none?

 

How much does a good koshirae costs? (I don't need it to be a museum piece) I've read it does cost around 1k to 2k €/$?

 

Best regards,

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Everyone knows you need to spend 10 years in Japan training under a master to be able to make a tsuka.

 

Seriously, it's not that hard if you are a woodworker and take your time. Couple people(untrained) in the U.S make them for people who actually use their blades for cutting and they don't explode or damage anything. Some of the things on here make me roll my eyes.

 

The Saya on the other hand is a different story and I won't comment on that.

Logan,

 

reading your comment, I can only say that you obviously lack the knowledge and experience in this field. Yes, a good woodworker may be able to make a raw TSUKA or a SAYA, but making it the original Japanese way is a completely different thing! While a SAYA may 'only' fall apart or scratch the blade, an incompetently made TSUKA is a potentially dangerous thing and may lead to the 'House of the Flying Swords'!

 

There are seven different expert craftsmen involved in making a Japanese sword, and I think it is over-self-confident to believe that any craftsman in the West could do the same. Experience in this field is a main factor.   

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Logan,

reading your comment, I can only say that you obviously lack the knowledge and experience in this field. Experience in this field is a main factor.

 

I already stated there are people who have good reputation in the U.S who make Tsuka for people who practice with the sword.

 

Obviously people are to afraid to comment on here with out getting reamed out by the "experts" on here.

 

Sorry, but not everything on the Japanese sword requires special and extreme skill to make. Even the person who mastered the craft learned from someone, who learned from someone, who learned from someone that taught themselves from trial and error to do it themselves.

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.....Obviously people are too afraid to comment on here with out getting reamed out by the "experts" on here.....

 

.....Even the person who mastered the craft learned from someone, who learned from someone, who learned from someone that taught themselves from trial and error to do it themselves.

Logan, 

 

I cannot believe that members here might be afraid to post a critical comment.

 

But you are certainly correct with that insightful look at the tradition and long learning processes in the crafts of the Japanese sword.

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I don’t think people are afraid to comment. This site is dedicated to preservation. Not doing it yourself or even really using them. I’m sure there are other sites involving such, but we are all about preservation. Which in my mind is preservation of the way it was done also.

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