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Thread: Tsuka question

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Florence AL
    Posts
    345

    Tsuka question

    I am restoring my Tsuka and have a question about the area of wood where the Same panels stop. I know some people glue paper in this area to help hold the Ito in place, but this core looks like it has some type of adhesive at one time in this area. It almost looks like a thin coat of bubber cement. I know this core is at least 15 to 18 years old. I am using Brownells Acra Steel bedding compound to repair and refurbish this Tsuka as an experiment and learning experience. my question is what do you folks us on paneled Tsuka where there in no same ?? (ths top and bottom)

    Thanks Dwight Pilkilton

    PS and another thanks to Ted and Keith for helping me out on this.

  2. #2
    First off, sorry, I totally blanked on mailing the same'. It'll go out today.

    Secondly, I don't know if its just a trend for me (IQ drops with age after all), but I'm not sure I understand your question.

    My *major* question would be where the original core came from. I've pulled apart poorly done tsuka to find they didn't have a clue what they were doing in terms of basic construction. And I've seen guys do things ostensibly to make for a tighter wrap (I guess) that must have seemed like a good idea to someone new to it, but ultimately was a really *bad* idea. I have heard of some "quick and dirty" wraps where they used adhesives on the ha and mune side of the shitaji (core). The idea I guess was to help keep the ito from shifting. The problem is that you need to properly tension the ito as you're wrapping and you actually want a smooth surface on the ha and mune side to ensure you can tighten it enough then tighten it some more (i.e., they have to be *TIGHT*). I've seen a lot of symmetrical wraps on western smith done swords that were just vastly too loose. They looked okay, but many don't seem to understand what "tight" means in context of tsukamaki. Anyway, the ito needs to stretch as much as its ever going to stretch and retain that tension. So if the core is "grabbing", that's not going to happen.

    So *assuming* I"m understanding you (not always a good assumption), I'd say skip it and don't worry about it. A tacky adhesive on the tsuka will give the wrap a "superficial" tightness when new, but will easily shift later on. It is better to be tight because it *is* tight rather than simply stuck on.

    With the rest of it... I'm not sure of your question. I don't do new tsuka with panels (no, let's not argue that one again), but the idea there is to carve the shitaji to final dimension you want on the tsuka minus the thickness of the tensioned ito (which is not much *if* its properly tensioned). Then the core is inlet for the panels to allow for *both* the thickness of the same' but also for the hishigame to allow them to sit flush with the shitaji so the side "wall" of the inlet acts somewhat like a buttress. This ensures a nicer looking wrap but also helps lock the hishigame in position so they don't shift. Free shifting hishigame *will* translate into a loose wrap. But they cannot be glued down either as they are "freefloating" in the sense of being completely surrounded by the ito. The ito should literally tension them into place locking them against the buttress. So the hishigame had *better* be perfect in shape and dimension or else the wrap will reflect it. But once everything is *locked*, you're in business.

    That's as much detail as I can possibly go into. There are lots of resources on the net showing how wraps are done. They are a starting point. The rest is experience and having someone looking over your shoulder helping. Much like MA training, a book or website can show the basics of a punch or kick, but doing it well is an entirely different beast and requires some interactive work.

    And by the way, I hate tsukamaki...
    Keith Larman
    Summerchild Polishing and Modertosho Modern Japanese Swords
    "They say I have ADD, but ... Hey, look, a chicken!"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Florence AL
    Posts
    345

    Ha and Mune

    Hi Keith I was talking about the Ha and Mune areas of the Tsuka Core where the panels do not fit. I have seen some with paper glued into posistion and i have seen othere use a variety of other things. I was just curious what other people have seen in this area where you have ito against bare wood.

    Thanks
    Dwight P

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    W. PA
    Posts
    187

    Why?

    Hi Dwight,

    Just wondering why you would feel the need for anything but the bare wood? I never add anything to that area. The bare wood is just fine. I'd get rid of the "bubber" cement, though.

    On full-wraps a surface is often added, such as strips of thin wood, that will alow the ito to move and tighten over that area which, due to the nodes of the same, would otherwise be impossible to accomplish.

    Hey, Keith. Just which part of maki do you hate? Let's see--the toll on the hands, the menuki placement, the hishigame,.......

    -Will

  5. #5
    Man, on one handle I did I had a bizarre reaction to something in the samekawa. I got my normal scrapes and abrasions from the freaking skin, but before I had finished the wrap I noticed my hand was getting swollen. Hmmm, okay, time for a break. I'll tie it off tomorrow. Clamp it down, go inside, clean the hand off really well and noticed some of the abrasions were *really* red. Weird.

    Next morning I wake up and my hand is the size of a softball. And it gets worse as the day wears on. So a visit to the doctor and he says I obviously had a violent reaction to *something* and that now an opportunistic infection had started up in the various wounds. So antibiotics for 10 days, creams, etc. (and an antihistimine for the itching -- aaaaiiieeee).

    I love swords. But tsuka always present my worst experiences and injuries. You'd think the worst would be polishing, but slipping with a plane while not paying attention makes a bigger mess...

    And I swear non-stop as I make hishigame. Hate it, hate it, hate it...
    Keith Larman
    Summerchild Polishing and Modertosho Modern Japanese Swords
    "They say I have ADD, but ... Hey, look, a chicken!"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Florence AL
    Posts
    345

    Bummer Keith

    I hate to hear that, nothing like having a hand unusabel for a few days to really realize what a true wonder it is. I have been playing around with the Same and noticed some dark colors between the nodes..not sure if it is biological or what. I soaked one piece in a 10% Bleach solution for 30 minutes and then washed well and it was gone. possibly it was something like that that caused your...hhhmmm infectiion or festering. Probbly it was a histamine reaction to something in the same. The more I work on this core the more I am thinking about making a new one out of poplar, at any arte it is a great learning experience. you ever watch any of the Gaijin's Guide Video Series ?? I was looking around on the internet and found the website..they promise a lot...but I dunno. I was recently privilaged to a viewing of several of Monet originals , i guess you could say...."just take a brush and some paint...all there is to it" ;-)

    Speaking of polishing , you know I have read for years the process and I think I have a good general knowledge of what happens. I understand the straight part..but for the life of me I do not understand polishing the Kissaki....looks to me like it would drive me mad trying to maintain the proper angles during the foundation polish......Man my hats off to you and the other people who do this so well....say a question...are there any Women Polishers ?? I have never heard of any ???

    My cup forever empty
    Dwight P
    Last edited by Dwight Pilkilton; 04-22-2004 at 11:24 PM.

  7. #7
    I've not seen the gaijin stuff. I've got enough to worry about trying to learn the traditional methods. Which is what I'm interested in.

    Be very careful about soaking same' in bleach. Yes, I'll give it a brief soak in about 10% bleach to kill anything on the skin, but I really do not agree with those who insist on bleaching skins. If you're getting good skins to begin with, well, they're good skins. Bleach will lighten the coloration, but only at the expense of structural integrity of the skin at the same time. No worries if you're doing panels I suppose, but for full wraps, well, the idea is to take advantage of the properties of the fibrous skin as a wrap around the wood that has grain going in different directions. Composite construction. Weakening the skin to avoid paying more for a better skin is I think a really poor trade-off.

    Obviously there was something in the skin. But in talking with an allergist about it later (I have severe allergies), he thinks I might have developed a sensitivity to the skin itself over the years. In filing same I will create a lot of "dust". Inhaling that stuff for years is an easy way to develop a sensitivity.

    Kissaki are difficult. Just the way it is. The best way I've come to think about it is that the kissaki is a blade unto itself. It has its own rules. And frankly people like to say that shobu must be easier. But they present different issues in polishing that are hard to describe. But the curving back of the blade and keeping strokes going in the proper direction along that surface ain't exactly easy either.
    Keith Larman
    Summerchild Polishing and Modertosho Modern Japanese Swords
    "They say I have ADD, but ... Hey, look, a chicken!"

  8. #8

    Re: Bummer Keith

    Originally posted by Dwight Pilkilton
    Speaking of polishing , you know I have read for years the process and I think I have a good general knowledge of what happens. I understand the straight part..but for the life of me I do not understand polishing the Kissaki....looks to me like it would drive me mad trying to maintain the proper angles during the foundation polish......Man my hats off to you and the other people who do this so well....say a question...are there any Women Polishers ?? I have never heard of any ???

    My cup forever empty
    Dwight P
    During WWII when the men went off to war. The gunto polishes produced at the factory where all done by women. There's a picture in a really good book for WWII oshigata.

    An Oshigata Book of
    Modern Japanese Swordsmiths: 1868-1945
    John Slough (2001)

    As for polishing the kissaki. It takes me *at least* as much time to do one side of a kissaki as it does to do one whole side of a blade (mune, shinogi ji, ji). It is the first thing that people look at when judging a blade. A shobu is no less *easier* neither. I spent a lot of time trying to get the niku to *flow* right during foundation. Speaking of which, I better send an e-mail out to Keith to take good pictures of blades for me.

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