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My Display Room Build

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After moving into our new home - I realized I do not have enough room for our collection. Solution.... make room. Thus begins my room build:


1. The space is a 9X10 room used by the previous owner as a gun storage room. The room has a small entrance room that leads to it that was designed in a similar fashion complete with epoxy\resin floors. Here is a picture of the entry way:




2. I would have taken a before shot of the room, but didn't think that you all may be interested until 1/3 the way in. Step one was to paint then install the floor. I went with Kilim Beige for the paint and hand scrapped saratoga hickory for the floors. At this stage the lighting is not installed, so I am using a portable light unit. Here is the end result:




3. The next step was to install fake support beams. Here is the before:




I am limited on my uploads.... so more to come.



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4. Here are some shots of the fished beams. Note - the paint color for the ceiling is called Mouse Ears. The set builder for Avatar introduced me to this color years back and I use it for anything that needs a dark anti-reflective coating:





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Dear James.


Looking great!  As a matter of interest why did you scrap the idea of the low stand for your armour?  I think it would look good and if you are canny you can have some low concealed drawers underneath it, just right for swords.........


Looking forward to the rest.


All the best.

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Great question! I scrapped it more out of frustration. Around that time I started to uncover wiring issues and other structural defects. I will likely loop back around to this later. I love the idea of the drawers!!




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7. With the beams in I decided to start in on the lighting. I used Hampton Bay mini tracks for this project. Here is what it looked like as I was installing:







8. Lights - check! Time to install the J brackets for the sword shelves. Or in this case level:

B-A-L-A-N-C-E...balance (Can you guess the movie?).




9.  With the brackets in - it was then time to install the beams. I used 2x4x8 stained in Kona.






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11. I propped a few cases up on the left wall to examine the lighting. I noticed a few things and am now debating moving the lights back for a wider field. For one, the lights are only hitting the bottom portion of the stands. I could of course just place the koshirae on top with the blades on the bottom, but the bottom most blade would not be in optimal lighting. Again, please ignore the quality of the photos at this stage. Either way, here is a preview. Would love to hear your thoughts!





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Things are still coming together. My wife was getting angry with me having everything randomly around the house, so I placed everything in the room. Here are the things I still have to do:


1. Build armor stand.

2. Assemble armor.

3. Clean sword cases and prep blades for display.


Am I forgetting anything?


Here are some pics to keep things interesting (again sorry about the quality):












And all 10 volumes of Dr. K's book for good measure. ;)



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James, all is looking very nice, well thought-through and stylish. There is only one thing bugging me: are you going to leave the walls with this sort of crude plasterwork? Or are you going to smooth them? Or are all the all walls going to be covered with cases, so the uneven surface underneath will not be visible?

I am very envious of all your skills - woodwork, electrics, etc. 

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Looks fantastic!  
What does the door look like?  It would be great if it were built of absurdly heavy timbers, with a thick bolt you could drop into place from the inside, like on a fortress door.  Then it could double as a safe room—by the time any intruders battered their way in, you’d be kitted up in yoroi and ready for battle...

*Edit* I see you’ve got a modern door with locks—well, I suppose you could go the practical route🤣

Edited by RichardP
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Nice James!  How about a comfortable chair and a large work table (to put swords/tosogu while studying/cleaning).  Some covered/hidden storage would be nice for the tools/equipment that you'll need that you don't want to show because it would ruin the look of the display area.

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Michael -

Thank you for the kind words!


As for the walls, they are actually reinforced concrete and was part of the original room design by the previous owner. I didn’t like it at first, but it adds a little depth in the correct lighting. I will take pictures with a better camera at the end and hopefully that will better capture what I mean. I did flirt with the idea of adding rice paper panels or something similar, but am just not quite there yet.


Greg -

I like the idea of the scrolls. I will need to keep an eye out as I currently do not have any. Perhaps when Japan reopens its boarders! 😉


Richard –

It is funny you mention the door. The original owner of the house was a previous SWAT guy. He used a steel door with locks everywhere and added extra reinforcement to the casing and walls. I did learn something interesting; apparently doors with deadbolts at both the bottom and top are almost impossible to breach using regular means. Now, that doesn’t mean it cannot be breached, it just means I will have plenty of time to put on the armor and pick the perfect sword…. before the concussion from the charges they will have to use obliterate me – lol.


George –

You read my mind…I plan on building out the entry way (first picture) and doing just that!

It will be another couple of weeks before I get there, but I’ll post pictures for you.


If anyone is in Virginia or nearby and would like to meet up send me a PM. I teach at Liberty University located in Lynchburg. I may be able to reserve a conference room if we get enough interest. Or even better, perhaps we can arrange a show.

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  • 1 month later...

All -


Per my most recent post, you could probably guess by now that this was a test build for the museum. We learned a lot from the build including lighting techniques and general aesthetic approaches. This room will now be used to keep items during off rotation periods. I'll post updates as we learn more and design new things.


Thanks again for your support!



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James, that was a good learning experience. Depending the number of blades you have for the museum, you might consider grouping the blades by age/school/etc. in one case, rather than one case per blade. Guido would be a good source of ideas, as would Markus.

Speaking from my own experience, if you can create a series of videos for each blade, or grouping, they will be far more likely to be exhibited when you're retired & no longer available.  Please be aware that university-based museums aren't very likely to display weapons, these days. After a number of discussions (read that as heated arguments) with my former Dean, & the university president, I changed my will so that my collection will go elsewhere!

Before I forget, a room dehumidifier is an essential & inexpensive way to keep blades from rusting. Dri-rods will also work, but AC power is needed for each.

Great job!

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Thank you for the suggestions!


We are going to use custom built climate controlled cases similar to what you what find at the NBTHK in Tokyo. Space is our enemy right now. With the sqft we will be working with we have to be very selective. For the soft open we will likely display around 30 swords, 5-10 armor, 5-10 yari & naginata, and many other items. 


The rooms will be broken down by era, but I may need the help of the board to ensure the groupings are proper. 


I am sorry you had those issues with your university. This is a self funded project for now, but we have interest from other parties for support. We will see what flushes out. I believe my university may back it if I can built out a large enough section to cover the rise of Christianity in Japan. On that note, it has been very difficult to locate reasonably priced  (crypto-Christian) items that touch on this subject. 


In any event, I'm really glad I have people such as yourself, and other members of the board, willing to share their thoughts and experiences. It will help tremendously. 

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