Posted By Thomas L. Buck

Earlier this year, I received an order for a new 13" tsuka to replace the original 10" tsuka, which was in disrepair.  Along with his request, the client had included a new tsuba and new fuchi/kashira/menuki and synthetic leather ito.  

Before sending the new tsuka, I surveyed the original and decided that, aside from the frayed ito, it was in excellent condition.  Liking the shape, feel, and size of the original, and having a little extra ito,  I decided to rewrap it as a bonus... I hope the owner won't mind.  Here is a pic of the rewrapped original.


As for the new 13" tsuka, I carved it and put a full wrap of same' with the edges overlapping on the "ha" section to the tsuka.  This was at the request of the client, the overlap itself is off center from the seam in the tsuka wood.   I also extended the same' under the fuchi for additional strength.

The ito used was very interesting.  It is a synthetic leather with a nylon core.  It felt comfortable yet strong, and it was very easy to work with.  Below are some samples sent me by Fred Lohman. 


Anyway, here are a couple of pics of the finished product.  Sorry about the full length view, the camera's flash kind of washed out some of the color.


Like I said before, this has a very comfortable feel and was easy to work with.  This being a sword for kata and tamegashiri, so I am interested in how it fairs after regular use. If you have used this ito for wrapping, or have practiced with a sword that has this type of ito on it, please let me know know how it holds up.

The only other thing I did, aside from the new tsuka, was to fit a new tsuba; on the left is the original silver tsuba, and on the right is the one that I refitted.


In closing, I am still debating whether or not I should use synthetic ito on older Nihonto, even if a client requests it... I tend to be a purist when it comes to restoring swords, especially  ancient Japanese swords, so I still find it hard to imagine using anything but original, or authentic materials.

Regardless, let me know what you think, your feedback is always welcome.

4 Comment(s):
Hans Igelström said...
Tom.. :) isnt it so that, this sword is newley made, and therefor not at all a antique one.. with that in mind and that its for a Battoghiri and Iaido, i think this i great combination in colours, and as far as material goes, you eventually need to rewrap anyway, in matter of a few years right..! I would think that if people in ancient Japan would have had axess to that, they probably would have wrapt in that some times to.. Its interesting that you sometimes can find Tsuba in paper, and wood, that means they used what where possible to get...(with realy good swords aside) i think it looks kind of modern and very sutable for its purpose. (sorry about the lack of knowledge in this material) just a thought.. talk to you soon :) Hansukesama
February 27, 2012 04:22:50 PM
Doug P. said...
I rather like the original tsuka, actually. I think the emerald green and silver are a very attractive combination. :)
April 25, 2011 05:05:53 PM
michael said...
very neat job but as yourself I am a traditionalist,
October 5, 2010 03:56:57 PM
Al said...
Personally I think synthetics have no place on any sword, let alone ancient Japanese swords. I'll be interested to hear how that stuff you used holds up over time exposed to sweat and UV and wear, but all of the material like that I've come across is built for luggage strapping etc and all the strength is in the woven core, the outside is just a thin layer for looks. Part of the problem trying to use high quality materials like leather in applications like this is that it's getting so hard to find really high quality natural materials any more because people just won't pay for them, but if you do find them there's nothing that'll match them for wear resistance and longevity if they're properly cared for. You can't care for nylon. It's going to degrade no matter what you do with it and when it starts to degrade it's impossible to refinish.
April 12, 2010 03:19:35 AM
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Thomas L. Bu...
Duluth, MN

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