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Thread: Oh why oh why can we have better....

  1. #1
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    Oh why oh why can we have better....

    .... production stuka? I have three swords next to me, Hanwei Bamboo Mat, Citadel Toyoshima, and a Japanese-made zinc-aluminum alloy iaito. Comparing the stuka, my iaito has the best ergonomic and well-put-together stuka. The shape is pleasing to the eye and comfortable in the hand. Next is the Citadel Toyoshima, it a second-hand purchase, so I don't expect the same tight fit as my iaito, but the stuka shape is still not as comfortable and ergonomic as my iaito. But the Hanwei Bamboo Mat stuka shape is terrible, it is like a axe handle.

    Why can production sword have a better tsuka? My zinc-alloy iaito is less than $700. It comes from Japan where there are extremely high labor cost. Can I expect a Chinese made shinken of comparable price to have the the same quality stuka? Labor cost there is a fraction of the cost in Japan. And I am happy to pay a little more for a better stuka shape.

  2. #2
    I agree hanwei have a bad shape with their tsuka... But DF and RDS are very good (I have an RDS that the tsuka looks and feels exactly like Japanese-made iaito).

    I have no idea why hanwei don't improve their tsuka, though...

  3. #3
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    Kensei seems to produce nicely shaped tsuka on average. I agree that Hanwei kats all have the same boxy shape lacking any real contour or character.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shahar Y. View Post
    I agree hanwei have a bad shape with their tsuka... But DF and RDS are very good (I have an RDS that the tsuka looks and feels exactly like Japanese-made iaito).

    I have no idea why hanwei don't improve their tsuka, though...
    Shahar,

    I just went to their site and was very impressed with the shape of their stuka. Their fittings are also very tasteful, Hanwei can be gaudy sometime. You sure piqued my interest. Can you tell me more about your katana? I have the impression that their blades are on the thin side.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by M. Phan View Post
    Shahar,

    I just went to their site and was very impressed with the shape of their stuka. Their fittings are also very tasteful, Hanwei can be gaudy sometime. You sure piqued my interest. Can you tell me more about your katana? I have the impression that their blades are on the thin side.
    While I can't say I know the exact model (bought it second hand, can't recognize the fittings on their site and I understand that RDS are willing to change the fittings on their swords per request), I was told it was from their 1095 line. I must agree, since it isn't folded (= not tamahagane line) and has a real hamon (= not 1060 line).
    My blade, while not being massive, is not thin either. It's just in the middle, and has some good amount of niku. The overall quality is very good, though my saya is a little off, meaning you have to slide the blade in an angle ( like this: \ ) instead of straight ( like this: | ) to get it in.

    To me they look like the best production company. I have gone through hanwei, DF, KC, cold steel, Japanese iaito and with RDS I had less problems than with anything. They were the closest to the level of iaito and Japanese shinken that I've seen. Their prices might be high but it's worth it.

  6. #6
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    Jun 2009
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    RDS Tsuka

    Here's a few shots of the tsuka on my RDS Katana, it's done, in my opinion, better than all of the Hanwei offerings that own or have handled. Nice samegawa and blue silk ito done correctly (alternating folds) with hishigami.
    Attached Images Attached Images    

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Wilson View Post
    Here's a few shots of the tsuka on my RDS Katana, it's done, in my opinion, better than all of the Hanwei offerings that own or have handled. Nice samegawa and blue silk ito done correctly (alternating folds) with hishigami.
    Is that the Doutanuki? I browsed around their website and it caught my eyes right away -- great looking katana. Sadly, it is out-of-stock. I wonder if I can pre-order them when it come back in stock. May I ask how much you pay for your (since the price is not list on their website)? If it is too intruding; I apologize.
    Last edited by M. Phan; 10-03-2010 at 01:26 PM.

  8. #8
    In history there are many tsuka shapes used for katana, tachi & handachi. Unfortunately the Hanwei type isn't one of them (I won't even get started on the length ).

    The term you're looking for is 'rikko' which means hourglass shape. Having a 'fatter' tsuka doesn't always mean bad. Certain period did have sturdier tsuka. However, it should have some ergonomic shape.

    Also the lower segment of Japanese iaito often have a 'base ball bat' shaped tsuka. This detail is only added with the higher prices swords.

    Attached a very fine shaped tsuka for an RDS shinken intended for a lady .
    A bit too slim for my taste but still a nice example.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    https://www.facebook.com/TheSamuraiWorkshop - Custom sword mounts, restoration, Kaneie shinken and a whole lot more about Japanese history and martial arts culture


    ...because spending hundreds of dollars on something that can cost you your life is worth spending more than thirty minutes of thought on.
    Originally Posted by Brian Pettett

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey Ching View Post
    The term you're looking for is 'rikko' which means hourglass shape.
    A common translation error, 立鼓 actually is pronounced "Ryūgo".

  10. #10
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    Hi Minduc,

    like we discussed, iaito tend to have better tsuka simply because most of the cost goes into the mounting, not the blade. Cast zinc aluminum blades don't have the overhead that forged blades do. Chinese labor is inexpensive, but like everywhere else, they are in it for the profit.

    It's easier when you're more focused on the koshirae than you are the blade. When blades are cast, you can also cast the same size habaki, fuchi, kashira, and other fittings because they'll always be the same size.

    With forged blades there are a lot of variances, so you have to deal with that when making koshirae.

    In the end though, the demand on production katana can only be so high. To change it, you can get a custom made tsuka like you are with me, or you have to put up with thick, straight tsuka.

    After all, if production swords were perfect, custom smiths would find even less work than before.
    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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