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Thread: Custom mounting options?

  1. #1
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    Custom mounting options?

    I'm looking to get some secondary mounts for the Hanwei Colonels Gunto I got and wondering what options (or who) are out there for such a project ie. new tsuka saya and mounting? My other concern is price of these options as well, not looking to spend a fortune on a blade like mine. If anyone knows or does (or is learning) I would appreciate getting some info on how much this would all cost at a "barebones" end of the spectrum, nothing flashy just usable.


    The handle on the sword is quite small at 9", and while I have no issues with this I would prefer a slightly longer tsuka and civillian mounts for use when cutting.

  2. #2
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    Try www.japanese-swords.com Fred Lohman is pretty inexpensive, and whoever he uses for koshirae does suitable work
    "Remember shop smart, shop 's' mart

  3. #3
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    Well Aaron Justice is a long trusted member here and I have worked with him personally. Great work and he does not bleed you dry. But my first choice would be Nihonzashi because they are a licensed business with over 10 years of experience and a staff. I have had 6 blades worked on by them and it is always worth it. They are not the best, but their work is solid and done on time. I would not work with someone just starting out or someone here who does sword work as a hobby that has a full time job. The reason being is like quite a few here can tell you when those people get into trouble at work or have other things to do your work becomes the last thing that they even think about. I can name 5 times this has happened to me personally with members of this forum. It does not matter how long the person has been a member or how well liked they are. Dont be one of the people like myself who sends a blade out and never gets it back.

    I know allot of people might lash out in saying that I am being unfair, but it is a big risk. When you send money or blades there is a strong chance you will never see them again or hear from the forum member. This does not happen all the time and there are people like Aaron who are honest and serious. But I would stick to Lohman Co. Or Nihonzashi as they are not just some random guy who does sword craft in his spare time who you would only know from a phone call or an e mail. Becuase they can just decide to block you on both forms of communication. Where as Fred Lohman and Nihonzashi are Shops that have ran for years. It is a day job and is needed so that the people who run it can live their daily lives. It would have to be a rare and extreme case that would force them to mess up something they need as opposed to somthing done in spare time.


    As for the sword. I have been training in sword off and on for 5 years. 9in tsuka could be good or bad depending on your actual hand size and if your actually training in a sword style that favors a style of cutting. More recently with "backyard cutting" to many have watched James Williams with huge tsuka and tried to emulate cutting with leverage of the blade and tsuka. With the gunto measurment you have to remember that Japanese have smaller hands. Me for example my hands are only 4in wide, so a 9in tsuka is perfect for me because it alows both my hands and a small space just big enough for 2 fingers. Plus my sword style has heavy toyama and gunto no soho influence, so we like to stick to a more simplistic "military" approach to swordsmanship that is less form and allot more function. With a few schools of Toyama influence you will see smaller blades and tsuka with hand grips that are close together. In the case of Toshishiro Obata who is the Shinkendo Soke you will hear some Sensei call it "bat gripping" or " it just looks like baseball"... This is because of the preferance of strong cutting styles that may not look pretty, but are effective. Verses something that looks very controlled and flowery that might not hold up under high pressure. It depends on your goal.

    There are to many debates on what should be a proper tsuka length and I think it is a pointless debate. Because if your goal is looks then why modify the sword at all? If your goal is to be a better sword user I would get a blade like a Hanwei Nambokucho Raptor that is larger and keep your gunto and the raptor stock. By using blades both large and small you will have a wider range of sword use. If you get equally good at using both and can transition from one to the other without missin a beat you will be ahead of allot of people. Becuase you will be able to keep a consistant skill level in your sword use regardless of what is put into your hands. If someone hands you a sword that is bigger, smaller or in between the two you have it would not take long for your muscle memory to adapt.
    Always have a sense of humor. This is most important when it concerns yourself, it is a strength beyond all measure- Dan Millman

  4. #4
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    Thank you for your responses, I will look into those and get some quotes, hopefully something will be in my range.

    Ricky: I am not interested in the enormous 12" tsuka lengths seen, rather something in the 10" range as that suits my style and Iaito size. It would be flexible for me to have the looks of the gunto mounts along with a mounting I can use with the same dimensions as my Iaito and previous swords. My hands are fair sized, and I'm getting pretty jammed up using the length on this sword. For one handed use it is a dream though. My other need is for Batto-Jutsu use, the locking mechanism, while something I like, is not conducive to quick draw and Noto. Thank you for your response in particular though, very helpful and insightful.

  5. #5
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    *Double post
    Last edited by John Mankey; 05-08-2012 at 12:32 AM.

  6. #6
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    John,

    Nihonzashi has good pricing. 10in is my favorite length of tsuka, so no debate there. If you have nihonzashi do a new tsuka for you thet can use the same fittings. I have always loved the gunto style because you are forced to keep the tsuka smaller can more rikko (hourglass) shapaed. I would go with a full wrap of same and I am a big fan of Tsunami Suede that Lohman sells. It make for a symmetrical wrap that has a the most amazing feel and non slip bonus. In my mind it would be best to get a full wrap on same' with the new core and have nihonzashi make you a proper pair of friction fit mekugi using good treated bamboo. All told from Nihonzashi you would pay $350 for a new tsuka handle wrapped with a full same' wrap using suede or newbuck ito. $330 if you downgraded to silk and $300 for cotton. Silk is the strongest, but when wrapped well feels like a slippery rock at times under your hands and using cotton I think is a waste when doing custom work, its always been a bare minimum. The saya work you will have to get a custom quote on, but should not be much.A good solid tsuka that is made well at the core and wrapped with good material should last a good 5-10 years depending on how you use it. I have always been one of those that upgraded my swords or my guns rather than just going out and buying a new one. If you can swing it price wise I would consider sharpening as Femal Sensei has produced some of the sharpest and longest lasting polishes I have ever used. People may try to tell you that your blade does not warrent that kind of work. But they would be dead wrong. With nihonzashi's help I took a through hardened 5160 blade much like a chen raptor and sunk about $700 into it. The end result was a blade that shocked allot of people. Its owner out cut many swords that were high priced when it came to dojo tameshigiri and allto a few sensei tried to buy the sword. Fact is you give me a decent blade to build on and $1,000 I could rival blades in the $3000 plus range. Looks or performance it would not really make a difference.


    I am somewhat insightful because I have done allot of things in the past 8 years. Started out as a hobby collector and backyard cutter, then I sold swords for a few different online people, then struck out designing on my own. Finally I because a student in JSA and even spent a few years making Bokuto and Suburito. I have spent allot of time polishing and mounting... or should I say attempting and failing. I have forged knives even with some success. I always tried some crazy Idea. I am one of few that know and have proved that Hira Zukuri if designed and made right can match any geometry. There are some that still believe the geometry is the weak link and do not stop to think that it is more how people commonly choose to make blades in that geometry. In the end you should mod the sword in a way that makes it the best tool for you to use. It does not matter what others say because your using it. I am just trying to give you food for thought so that you may not make my mistakes and take your sword experience further than me without as many negative experiences.
    Always have a sense of humor. This is most important when it concerns yourself, it is a strength beyond all measure- Dan Millman

  7. #7
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    Recently got into guns 6 months back and things are very much the same as the sword game. There is to much information that is not fact more opinion made by a well respected person that becomes a holy truth that is above question. I like to have the most basic tools when I start out, but I like them to be good building blocks. I have a 1942 Mosin Nagant rifle and a 1952 T-33 Tokarev pistol. I could have bought higher cost guns but bought these because they are cheap, well made, and are cost effective to upgrade. When I bought the mosin I bought it from a dealer I know and payed an extra $30 to have their sorter select a mosin that has a good bore, trigger, and bolt above all else. What I got was just that. The bolt is smooth, the trigger light and the bore while not a mirror is shiny. BUT the machine work was rough in a few spots. Also the stock was in rough shape. I took it to the range and people laughed at its condition, but were impressed that I could fire 8in groups with iron sights at 100 yeards only my 5th time at the range. So what I did I do? I spen $100 and bought good high heat paint, sand paper, stain and fine steel whool. I sanded all the wood and applied 3 coats of stain and 2 clear. I took the gun apart and polished every piece removing all the burr from the internal and external of the parts. Then the gun got 3 coats of paint on the parts and all with a bufff with 0000 steel pad between coats. I even buffed the bore with a piece of the super fine pad stuck to my cleaning rod. It worked wonders!


    What is the point?


    Two days ago I went back to the range and everyone was drooling over my mosin! The same one I was getting laughs over weeks before. The range master even came out to shoot it. I spend hours softening the machine marks and well as polishing and buffing internal and externals. It really showed in how much better the gun ran and looked. One guy thought it was a German Mauser and offered me $500 for it. He didnt believe me when I told him that it was a Russian mosin that I paid $220 for after fees and taxes. What was really funny was a guy who comes to my range has a Springfeild 1903 A-3 that is about $800 to $1,000 depending on condition and where you buy it. He paid about $900 I think. But people who shot both that day preferred and had better luck shooting with my mosin. People did not see how it was possible, others gave me the "polishing a turd" speech. But I didnt really care. Fact was I had a rifle I have $350 spent and maybe 40 hours of work into. And it managed to beat out a rifle worth almost 3 times as much for the majority of shooters. What I am saying is you will want to shop around and ask questions at a few shops. But also think about waiting and maybe spending more than you wanted to upgrade more than just the tsuka and saya, but the polish, the mekugi and the overall quality of work and materials. It will save you allot of time in the long run because a sword that is built right with time and experienced hands can last a long time and save money not having to buy a new "higher quality" sword. People lose sight of the "how its made" and focus to much on the "who" in most things material.
    Last edited by Ricky Arias; 05-08-2012 at 02:53 AM.
    Always have a sense of humor. This is most important when it concerns yourself, it is a strength beyond all measure- Dan Millman

  8. #8
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    Excellent, I will see what Aaron has to offer but nihonzashi is looking very good for my needs ATM, thank you. Silk has been my choice for all my swords, I find it offers excellent grip and feels wonderful on the hands, thnakfully I don't sweat alot on my palms during kata. Polishing may come in the future, having seen some work on other HWS blades the activity is quite remarkable. Considering I got this sword shipped for $530 I am willing to spend that amount and more over time as funds dictate.


    Once again thank you for your help, I'll be sure to let you know how it turned out when all is said and done!

  9. #9
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    Excellent, I will see what Aaron has to offer but nihonzashi is looking very good for my needs ATM, thank you. Silk has been my choice for all my swords, I find it offers excellent grip and feels wonderful on the hands, thnakfully I don't sweat alot on my palms during kata. Polishing may come in the future, having seen some work on other HWS blades the activity is quite remarkable. Considering I got this sword shipped for $530 I am willing to spend that amount and more over time as funds dictate.


    Once again thank you for your help, I'll be sure to let you know how it turned out when all is said and done!

  10. #10
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    no problem... its nice to help. Nihonzashi is so overlooked I just try to right that wrong
    Always have a sense of humor. This is most important when it concerns yourself, it is a strength beyond all measure- Dan Millman

  11. #11
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    Hi John,

    Have you considered Randy Black? He doesn't have a website but examples of his work aren't hard to find here. He has completed more than five projects for me, and is my go to choice for this sort of work. If you are interested I can direct you his way.

    Are you all set on tsuba, menuki, and fuchi-kashira? You could re-use what you already have to save a little. If you needed other parts, I might have something you could use.

    Best of luck

  12. #12
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    *duplicate post*
    Last edited by Jonathan Frances; 05-08-2012 at 04:58 AM. Reason: duplicate post

  13. #13
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    Thanks Frances! I haven't really put together Koshirae yet, as this is still a future project I'm looking at. As far as those go I'm leaning towards very plain fittings, perhaps pick up a antique menuki if one comes along. The replica tsuba from japanese-swords.com seem quite good but I'll still be looking out for anything anyone is willing to part with for a reasonable price.

  14. #14
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    Well I believe many can make you a new tsuka and maki for decent price but building a saya completely from scratch will pump up the price.

    I think that Fred Lohman has one of the cheapest packages for what you are looking "The Works" is c.1300$ and it includes new saya, new tsuka, and fittings of your choice.

    I believe you might be able to get it done for c.800-900$ for pure no thrills bare bone mount. These are just my off the hat guesses for cheapest options, and you would have to use low-end fittings to achieve this, as well made tsuba and F/K will cost a fair bit.

    Going for custom or antique fittings will also give that one of a kind touch but they will pump up the total price, although in my opinion they are worth every penny spent on them.

    Well Ricky made good points and I fully understand the desire of having your own customized look on a sword (heck, I'm slowly remounting c.500$ blade as something very special, and I've noticed I may end up using more € on it than I originally budgeted, but as it progresses it gets even more mindblowing at least for myself).

    For tsuba I can highly recommend Arek Kultucki, he made a tsuba that I absolutely love for this project of mine. After having the pleasure of owning his work I will never buy production tsuba again. His work is excellent and very affordable.
    Last edited by Jussi Ekholm; 05-08-2012 at 09:30 AM. Reason: Changed that off the hat price slightly
    Jussi Ekholm

  15. #15
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    You can try Bartosz, his website is: http://www.daisho.pl/index7.php sometimes he has made prices available for reasonable prices.

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