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Thread: Tsuka ????

  1. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by J. Bouthner View Post
    actually I've owned a PC shinto (one of the original ones) and a PPK and both had cracks in the tsuka. It makes me wonder if that is why the samurai went through all the trouble of having metal bands around them and wrapping them with ray skin and silk cord. I can't say I've ever seen a production katana that didn't have a cracked tsuka. The only exception would be my japanese production iaito. I dont' get it. I can't imagine a $250.00 iaito has a better tsuka than a $650 PC shinto. Am I wrong. Aren't most sub $300 iaito production too?
    I've only seen one Japanese iaito disassembled, and it was shimmed. See my post above.. I guess that's how they do it how cheap swords as well. And I bet my Orchid that 9 times out of 10 (if not 10/10) even a cheap Japanese tsuka beats a Chinese tsuka of any price-range.
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  2. #77
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    Thumbs up I stand corrected

    Its not often I am wrong !

    LOL and I am terrible liar as well ,

    Shims do seem like the lesser of two evils - s in given a choice I would much rather install shimming than have a core split on me - ah well not everything is as I first thought .

    Maybe hanwei go the other way and have agenerous fit ( they did include shims with their cleaning kits - do they still do that ? ) to their tsuka .

    As opposed to the cheness tsuka fitting MO where angry mounter guy gets the tsuka from depressed looking ito chic , and whacks said tsuka into place with a large mallet.

    ( see making of cheness katana youtube vid )


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  3. #78
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    Just remember the difference between a 0.5-1mm shim and a Chopstick!
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  4. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timo Qvintus View Post
    Interesting stuff, Aaron. Have you just rewrapped the old tsuka or do you make new cores (or both)? If you dispose the old cores, have you by chance split any to see how they've been done?
    None have even been split enough to actually see inside.

    If the wood itself is actually cracked, then I wouldn't proceed, I'd notify the customer as it is obviously unsafe.

    I did a Cheness tsuka which also had a split seam, but only for about two, two and a half inches. What I did was get a thin piece of stiff paper (I used a business card) and tried to get a good amount of JB cold Weld epoxy forced into the seam as I could. When clamped, the epoxy held like magic, the wood around it would break before the seam would fail. Of course when it came to putting the tsuka core back on, I had to slightly file the inside with a rasp because what split the core in the first place was the fact it fit too tightly on.
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  5. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Justice View Post
    None have even been split enough to actually see inside.
    I didn't mean naturally split, I meant split with a combination of chisel, hammer and extreme prejudice.
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  6. #81
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    I have a Bugei bamboo katana. I removed the tsuka the traditional way and found it to be tight, well-fitting and very strong. When a tsuka is pinned in two different places, there has to be a degree of custom fitting involved. So I really don't think it's a case of "Chinese just don't do it right."

    But the formula really is simple: The more attention to detail, the higher the cost. You don't always get what you pay for, but you seldom get more than what you pay for.

    Having said that, i agree entirely that something should be fit for the purpose for which it is sold. The only way that lower-end cutters will get better tsuka is if enough people complain about them -- and demand that they be fixed.

    tk



    Quote Originally Posted by Timo Qvintus View Post
    I've only seen one Japanese iaito disassembled, and it was shimmed. See my post above.. I guess that's how they do it how cheap swords as well. And I bet my Orchid that 9 times out of 10 (if not 10/10) even a cheap Japanese tsuka beats a Chinese tsuka of any price-range.

  7. #82
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timo Qvintus View Post
    I didn't mean naturally split, I meant split with a combination of chisel, hammer and extreme prejudice.
    I tried once with a Paul Chen practical katana. The results were not that great...
    Every time I put on a suit for a wedding or other event, I feel like I'm wearing optimal clothing for an epic fight scene...

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  8. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Kehoe View Post
    I have a Bugei bamboo katana. I removed the tsuka the traditional way and found it to be tight, well-fitting and very strong. When a tsuka is pinned in two different places, there has to be a degree of custom fitting involved. So I really don't think it's a case of "Chinese just don't do it right."
    Bugei would the 1/10 exception to the rule, mate..
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  9. #84
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    Whoa, we got us a sticky thread?!

    ..it's probably all the glue involved in crafting tsuka..
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  10. #85
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    Thumbs up sticky thread

    A good idea due to the ongoing issues cropping up with alarming regularity concerning cracked and split cores -

    I wish I could find the post from one of the cracked cheness tsuka threads where a guy states " hey, I bought my first cracked tsuka katana today " he had a smiley icon tacked on the sentence like he was pleased and cracked tsuka are the norm ???

    Maybe this thread will run and be updated with more cracked core issues and their resolution ,

    personally I would like to see every failed tsuka issue chased up with the vendor regardless of its a $200 or a $500 sword - if that sword was marketed with a 'suitable for tameshigiri ' blurb or similiar I hope to see the customer holding up the seller to replace the sword - not just send out another badly made, wrong sized tsuka .
    " Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



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  11. #86
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    I know legally it's a bit fraught but the whole idea of SFI is education.
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  12. #87
    Okay, stupid question from a lurker in this katana-world...

    Why don't makers of lower-end katana go ahead and just use peened-over pins or something and make this tsuka (that's the grip, right?) thing permanent to the tang? Do they make it disassemble-able just so folks can practice taking it apart? I mean, if it's not exactly an heirloom, is there something heretical about drilling two holes in the tang so the grip can be pinned on permanently? I know this board is just a board, but from casual observation it almost seems like any katana under around $500 (or certainly under $300) is viewed as disposable. If that's the case, why the concern about being able to take the thing apart for cleaning?

    It seems like the same issue is always coming up...the tsuka isn't "right" so the blade will fly out when it impacts something less forgiving than a pool noodle, and it seems like a cheap way to keep this from happening is pins going through the tsuka through the tang.

    Anyhow, just looking for an education here. Have gotten into swords with european swords first, and certainly want to add eastern blades to the collection, and it's looking like (epsecially after reading Keith's post on page 3) that there is an average price point before a katana is safe, and the point isn't 300 or 500 dollars. Which isn't a big deal to me...I'd rather spend 800+ once than 300 three times, and I'm not even planning on going out back to cut up bamboo (just like I don't take the longsword out back to swing at stuff)...just want to know it can if I do ever join a dojo and begin training.

  13. #88
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    Partially it's tradition, partially it's function. Japanese swords evolved to a level of development that was really never seen in Europe -- or anywhere else for that matter.

    Katana were often kept in service for (many) hundreds of years, so the ability to refit it to suit new hands, a new clan or a new style of fighting was very important. Moreover, the silk wrapping on the handle wore out with time and had to be replaced. And the fittings on the sword were supposed to reflect the rank of the bearer, so as the samurai's rank increased, his sword would change.

    There are pins (or a pin) going through the tsuka, but they are bamboo and designed to be removable. And if the wooden core fits so poorly that it needs to be shimmed with a chopstick, rivets probably wouldn't keep it from cracking under real strain.

    There have been a few manufacturers who have permanently attached the handles of their low-end katanas, but users have complained, even when they have otherwise liked the sword (think the Paul Chen PK).

    tk

    Quote Originally Posted by J Rush View Post

    Why don't makers of lower-end katana go ahead and just use peened-over pins or something and make this tsuka (that's the grip, right?) thing permanent to the tang? Do they make it disassemble-able just so folks can practice taking it apart? I mean, if it's not exactly an heirloom, is there something heretical about drilling two holes in the tang so the grip can be pinned on permanently? I know this board is just a board, but from casual observation it almost seems like any katana under around $500 (or certainly under $300) is viewed as disposable. If that's the case, why the concern about being able to take the thing apart for cleaning?

    It seems like the same issue is always coming up...the tsuka isn't "right" so the blade will fly out when it impacts something less forgiving than a pool noodle, and it seems like a cheap way to keep this from happening is pins going through the tsuka through the tang.

  14. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by J Rush View Post
    Okay, stupid question from a lurker in this katana-world...

    Why don't makers of lower-end katana go ahead and just use peened-over pins or something and make this tsuka (that's the grip, right?) thing permanent to the tang? Do they make it disassemble-able just so folks can practice taking it apart? I mean, if it's not exactly an heirloom, is there something heretical about drilling two holes in the tang so the grip can be pinned on permanently? I know this board is just a board, but from casual observation it almost seems like any katana under around $500 (or certainly under $300) is viewed as disposable. If that's the case, why the concern about being able to take the thing apart for cleaning?

    It seems like the same issue is always coming up...the tsuka isn't "right" so the blade will fly out when it impacts something less forgiving than a pool noodle, and it seems like a cheap way to keep this from happening is pins going through the tsuka through the tang.

    Anyhow, just looking for an education here. Have gotten into swords with european swords first, and certainly want to add eastern blades to the collection, and it's looking like (epsecially after reading Keith's post on page 3) that there is an average price point before a katana is safe, and the point isn't 300 or 500 dollars. Which isn't a big deal to me...I'd rather spend 800+ once than 300 three times, and I'm not even planning on going out back to cut up bamboo (just like I don't take the longsword out back to swing at stuff)...just want to know it can if I do ever join a dojo and begin training.
    Valid points, which actually have been taken into production to a point. Paul Chen's original "Practical" series tsuka are epoxy-glued on (in addition to mekugi), so those tsuka are not coming flying in a hurry. Cheness has begun to use brass mekugi (which really isn't a solution to safety-issues).

    The thing is, a katana is a sum of it's parts. Even if the tsuka is pinned on, that would just cause problems elsewhere. A cheapo habaki would place a stress-point where none should exist if things were fine, which in turn could make the blade snap in two. How's that better than a blade flying out of the tsuka? Well, at least with removable tsuka you can check it for cracks; on a permanently pinned tsuka you can't check what's under the habaki (for example).

    At the current influx of chinatana-blades, I would have to say that $500 price-range *SHOULD* be safe. I'm guessing the blades cost $50-100 (?). Not much money is spent on polishing them. Fittings are dime-a-dozen. If they have marketing and advertising expenses I'm really surprised. Logistics-expenses are divided between dozens of swords, not much extra there either. So the rest of the money goes to labor; based on hearsay about the craftsmen's wages in China I find it hard to believe that a $500 swords *COULDN'T* be made safe if they really honestly wanted to make them safe.
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  15. #90
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    Hmm, looking at all the comments about the Cheness tsukas, I'm going to hold of even longer to buy a next sword... That Cheness Ayame is calling me though...

    One idea I'd like to throw around regarding the cracked tsukas. Is it possible that they cracked not just because of the bad fitting, but also because of the climate difference from us to them? I mean, the various manufacturers have checked out the blade before shipping them out, and even though it was a tight fit then it may not have been so tight that it would have cracked. I'm basing this off two things:

    1- these swords would not be shipped by air to the United States (too expensive), but by cargo ships. You're over a huge body of water for a long time, so the humidity is different. Then you're shipping it to various parts of the country, which have different climate. Same goes for Europe and South America.

    2- I have a wooden miao dao from when I was in Taiwan back in Summer of 1998. It had a slip-on plastic guard/tsuba. After I came back to New York City, I noticed that the wood shrank. In order for me to have the guard stay, I had to it further and further, shortening the handle but gaining more blade. This started happening just after 3-4 months. After that, my miao dao has cracks along the grain of the wood, showing that the whole thing has shrunk at different rates. I was still able to take on a hand and a half metal stage sword, and only came away with some nicks and cuts. (on the wooden dao, not me. Couldn't maintain the no-edge parrying rule.)

    The various manufacturer for the $200-500 range swords had to do things quick and cheap, so they didn't care as much about the fit as long as it is tight, since the biggest concern for beater swords is for the blade not to fly off the handle and "reach out and touch someone." Once the swords get here the wood would shrink and distort and other stuff.

    Is there anyone on the forum residing in Asia that has purchased swords give some comments about whether or not their wood was shrinking?

  16. #91
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    I can confirm the shrinking on my part; that's why I now PEG-treat the wood I'm using for my hand-made tsuka. The easiest way to spot shrinking wood (with Japanese-style swords) is to keep checking habaki-fit of saya: if it becomes loose or tight periodically, you have a good chance that your tsuka-wood is expanding/compressing also.
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  17. #92
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    As a woodworker with 30+ years of exerience, I find this a very interesting idea. Traditional japanese makers of tsuka and saya are careful to use honoki that has been air-dried for years to avoid cracking. But over time, that wood will still move if the finished tsuka or saya is moved to a climate that is sufficiently different. We see this a lot in Florida, where humidity is often 100% outside, but air-conditioning keeps most homes desert-dry inside.

    I moved a credenza from my mom's home in NJ to my home in Florida earlier this year. My mom's home is not air-conditioned, my home is. Within a a couple of weeks the drawers were stuck shut.

    tk


    Quote Originally Posted by Timo Qvintus View Post
    I can confirm the shrinking on my part; that's why I now PEG-treat the wood I'm using for my hand-made tsuka. The easiest way to spot shrinking wood (with Japanese-style swords) is to keep checking habaki-fit of saya: if it becomes loose or tight periodically, you have a good chance that your tsuka-wood is expanding/compressing also.

  18. #93
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    I just recieved my OF Ukigumo katana, it was a factory second with a small discount since the tsuka-maki was a bit loose. Upon inspecting i found that the tsuka was fully split and together with the single mekugi pin that would make quite a mess if it came loose during chopping (movements that is)!
    This seems quite a problem with Oniforge, and its the first split i saw in years...
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  19. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian J. View Post
    I just recieved my OF Ukigumo katana, it was a factory second with a small discount since the tsuka-maki was a bit loose. Upon inspecting i found that the tsuka was fully split and together with the single mekugi pin that would make quite a mess if it came loose during chopping (movements that is)!
    This seems quite a problem with Oniforge, and its the first split i saw in years...
    Try contacting Loren right away, they seem to have a problem on their hands; recent evidence suggests that whoever makes their tsuka has either been using bad glue or has stopped paying attention to what they're doing. When I joined SFI some 18 months back everyone sang high praise to OF.. now they're on fast-track to the blacklist of "expect a cracked tsuka" manufacturers.
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  20. #95
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    It almost seems that they are emtying their stock of unsellable items...
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  21. #96
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    In this thread you can see what a tsuka *SHOULD* look like:
    http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t=80027
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  22. #97
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    This Cheness-thread became a discussion that highlights many of the flaws in tsuka of mass-produced katana, and Paul Southren of SBG dropped in to update on Cheness' side of the story plus the improvements in design of their tsuka:
    http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t=86801
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  23. #98

    The stuka

    Hi there! I had the same problem, only with a smaller crack. As I later found out, it was made due to bad fuchi (and the lack of skill ) - it was only sitting great on two sides of the tsuka mouth (N and S), W and E had gaps between wood and metal ~3mm. So when I made a bad cut, where the blade slipped to one side and ... and it cracked.

    Sorry, I don`t have photos, because it was quite a long time ago. I`ve repaired the tsuka - gluing the crack with a special kind of glue and made a pair of wood pieces, that I later snuck between the fuchi and the tsuka on the both sides - pressing the mouth from every side, making it stable to cracks on impacts.

    Hopefully with my skill, also the quality of cuts went up, so I didn`t had any problems since then.

  24. #99
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    What ever happened with Joe's tsuka?

    Joe,

    I'm a sword fitter in Northern Virginia, with the Shidogakuin dojo. What ever happened with your tsuka issue?

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