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Thread: I wish to customise a Hanwei Bushido katana. Ideas?

  1. #1
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    I wish to customise a Hanwei Bushido katana. Ideas?

    I have recently purchased a Hanwei Bushido katana. It is a beautiful blade, and looks breathtaking as it is, however, I want to make it "my own" and get some custom work done on it to individualise it.

    I love the tsuka, tsuba, fuchi and kashira that it currently has, but I want to customise the saya in some way. The problem is, I have lots of very vague, conflicting ideas about which changes to make, and would appreciate some help/ideas in order to help me choose.

    I was thinking of getting the saya stripped completely and re laquered in a dark, matt red/crimson, and incorporating some gold Katabami mon down the length of the saya, and replacing the sageo with a blue and white sageo.

    Alternatively getting the saya re laquered in a lighter red, with some dark red rattan wrap extending to just below the kurikata/sageo and replacing the currently red sageo with an ivory sageo.

    Any ideas or improvements on my ideas would be greatly appreciated

  2. #2
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    Well you made a good choice with the Bushido. It's my favourite of Hanwei' line for a few reasons, but being a production kat' it's far from perfect. The best things about it is the blade itself (with a beautiful sharp hamon) and the fittings with clean metallic trim.
    The things I don't like about can all be found on the tsuka. The tsuka is panelled and not wrapped, which is always a downer but can usually be expected on production swords. The sakura menuki are nice but I get the impression they are only thin and are sprayed. The tsukaito is very thin cotton and may not be very tight depending on how often you use the sword. Mine comes loose regularly but after seeing some nice thick, very handsome wrap on another forum member's kat' I'm having it redone as soon as I figure out the braid I'd prefer.
    In conclusion and enough of my chatter; if you want to aim for the stars then you won't go wrong with a rewrapped tsuka, menuki swap and maybe a full samegawa wrap. As for the saya you can buy cashew laquer online for a reasonable price and if properly done after a clean sanding you can never go wrong with black, or like you already mentioned a nice dark plum or red.

    Also; you're from Sunderland? I'm literally ten minutes in my car down the road. Mackem :P
    Last edited by Chris Parkes; 07-07-2011 at 10:10 AM.
    Swift and Bold

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  3. #3
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    Yes, I am a born and bred Mackem :P

    I hadn't considered a tsuka-ito rewrap to be honest, as I personally think it looks pretty good the way it is. I also hadn't noticed loosening of the tsuka-ito, as to me the sword is purely an art object and has never been used for martial arts or to cut with. That being said, I did consider replacing the white same panels with a full black samegawa wrap to be honest, simply because I think black looks a lot better.

    I have lots ideas on what to do with the saya, the problem is I dont want to "overdo" it, I still want the sword to look elegant rather than have so much bling it looks like one of those silly wall-hangers you would buy from a gift shop.

    I just wish I had a definite "theme" or idea of what I want to do, at the minute I have so many vague ideas floating around in my head and obviously I cant do them all.

  4. #4
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    Happy days. I'm from Murton just down the A19.

    I prefer black same over white as well. If you did want a full wrap of the tsuka naturally you'll have to have a tsukaito redone as well. Cotton is quite thin compared to leather or braided silk, but if you're only displaying your sword then the wrap should never come loose or undone.
    The danger with adding colour and extra to swords is, like you already mentioned, overdoing it. I added a gold and brown two sided sageo to mine and am going for a two colour ito as well.
    As long as you avoid clashing colours and go by a traditional theme it shouldn't look tacky. I altered mine after a famous tachi I found in one of the nihinto books I keep around the house. I've checked every book store in Sunderland for books about and related to japanese swords and got a big zero I found some online on eBay and dojo websites. Just keep looking around and a theme will jump out at you.
    Swift and Bold

    A soldier's scars are worth a million medals.

  5. #5
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    I live at East Rainton so I'm even closer to Murton than you thought! lol

    I had no intention to change my katana when I originally bought it but I was at the Leeds Armouries a few days ago and a lot of the koshirae designs really jumped out at me and thats what gave me the idea to customise mine. I got the idea for a blue and white sageo and golden katabami Mon over a red saya from a particular tachi that was on display at the Armouries, I wish I had payed more attention and remembered what its history was, or even taken a photo, as this particular tachi as my inspiration.

    I have done a few mock ups/hand drawn designs and I am focusing in and getting closer to a final one. I am thinking that I will leave the tsuka as it is at the moment (I have some ideas for it but I am operating on a budget, I can always customise it further in time), while I will have saya redone as matt crimson with a single golden katabami mon halfway down, and with a blue and white sageo.

  6. #6
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    Haha I met my Mrs at Leeds armouries. I go there quite often.
    I'll inbox you from here, mate.
    Swift and Bold

    A soldier's scars are worth a million medals.

  7. #7
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    I found that the Paul Chen Bushido katana, and the iaito from the various Paul Chen lines like the Nami, Gorin, and Tsuru all have pretty much the same sori. Paul Chen katana are suspiciously similar in size, sori, thickness, etc, so I would expect the blades are made in some kind of machine precision control before quenching. No guarantees, but the Bushido I have I cut shorter to get it exactly at 27" for the nagasa, and it fits the Tsuru iaito saya I have better than the original saya.

    If you can manage to find a spare saya from these iaito (Paul Chen used to sell them separate) you might be able to get one to replace the current saya.

    if you wanted to relacquer the saya, you wouldn't need to strip the old saya, though you will want to sand it down quite a bit. The brass sakura flowers show even when lacquered over black, you'll need to sand it down with 400-800-1000-2000 grit paper to smooth it out as much as you can. Make sure you get all the scratches out of each roughing or else they'll show when the new lacquer dries.
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