Tsuka – The Sword Handle
The tsuka is the handle of the Japanese sword. The ornaments on the handle are called Menuki and under the wrap there is ray skin Samegawa. Traditional wrappings are referred to as Tsumami Maki.
Tradition dictates the use of silk, however, today cotton, rayon, and leather are used, some even prefer synthetic leather for the ito wrap
When the sword is wrapped shortcuts cannot be made. The goal is a combination of appearance and function. In creating a Katana tsuka these fall into two distinct stages.
First, the wood is split and carved to receive the tang. It is joined while shaping the outside. Carving is done by using special chisels known as saya-nomi. the tang is being held by one or two mekugi pegs wrapped with samegawa and the ito.
Enforcing the Katana Tsuka Core
To increase strength, the tang is placed slightly off-center in the black using rice paste wood glue known as Sokui. This will fully support the wood.
Sokui is chosen because of its non-acidic property. This will not degrade the steel or wood given time. On top of this, there will be no moisture-retaining issues in the future.
Simply put, using this glue will preserve the sword for a longer period of time than using ordinary materials. To turn a block of wood into a graceful handle needs the help of chisel, knife, coarse files and rasps. This is the final stage of creating a sword.
How to Disassemble the Katana
There may be times when a Katana needs to be inspected, repaired or cleansed. Mekugi, Tsuka, Tsuba, Seppa, and Habaki must be removed. Once the Mekugi is removed the handle is ready to be taken off.
This is a rather simple process if the handle is not that tightly screwed. Some production Katana has a tightly stuck handle to the blade. If this happens it would be best to use an old towel for protection when removing the handle.
When putting the sword back together slip the habaki, seppa, and tsuba into the nakago. Keep in mind that rewrapping the handle starts when measuring the handle in inches and add 4 to this number. This will wrap the handle snuggly. a 12-inch handle needs 16 feet of ito to wrap.
Tsukamaki is the process of wrapping the Tsuka of the Katana. We offer two wrapping styles which are Katate-Maki (Battle Wrap) or Tsumami-MakI (Traditional wrap).
If you are rewrapping it yourself, avoid allowing it to be loose otherwise it would be in poor shape later on. The end knot will exhibit the wrong re-wrapping once this happens. We recommend to fully learn how to rewrap the sword before doing so.
Sometimes the old Ito will need to be replaced, when it does, Keep the wrapping tight and functional as possible.