View Full Version : Malants japanese sword making tutorial

09-07-2008, 08:53 PM
(Note this resembles chiokies guide but is more complex and involves power tools)

Hi as most of you know im malant and today im here to attempt to teach you how i build a tanto-wakizashi.

First of all to start you need your materials. some of which i will post a common substitue.

List of materials you will need:

Belt sander (file and normal sand paper)
Table saw
jig saw > all of these can be used for a coping saw (i think)
circular saw
100-1000 Grade sand paper
Most woods 1/4in. thick. i mostly use poplar but have started using exoctic woods.
wax candles
Cyanaocrylate glue
drill table (hand drill)
Hand file

Those are the materials you will need to make your tanto/wakizashi/katana.

Now the start of this tutorial.

For the sword i am making i will be using tiger mapel and walnut (really high class woods)
(i love the grain in the mapel pictures fail to convey it)

Ok first things first if you havent to bendt the PVC to the blades curve an easy way to do this is to plug on end of the tube with one of the candles and fill the tube with boiling water. the plug the other end and lay it flat wit a couple of seconds and start bending the PVC to the desired curve.

Now after all of that and letting it cool you can draw out your K/W/Ts shape.

Now heres were it gets tricky cutting out the curve if you have the jig saw its about medium hard if you have a coping saw its medium/hard. once you get it cut out it should look something like this.
Now things you want to keep in mind when you draw it out you want to keep a square piece by the handle this will later become the habaki. And the reason the handle is skinnier is to sequre the guard in place. this will become apparent later.

Now after that your going to want to make the handle/sheath.
Now alot of people ask me how i make my sheaths. well this is how,
First you take the blade and draw it out then move the blade about 1/4 of an inch up re trace it and do the same with the bottom. then you cut the first one out (note you only make one first only darw one) after you have it cut out you can trace another from that one side. then after you have both cut out you draw a third one and this time you trace the blade inside but at the tip make it more circled. this one is extremely dificult to cut out because of its thinness. this is were having a jig saw comes in handy. you want to start with the inner pieceand after that you cut around the outer piece.
Here is where you should be at.

Now after that you will need to glue it take out that bottle of CA glue and put it on one side of the middle section glue it down to one of the sheath sides. reapeat with the other and clamp it http://i213.photobucket.com/albums/cc22/Malant1/P9073880.jpg
after it dries you now have an unsanded sheath dont worry if the blade doesnt fit yetit will.

Now after this comes the handle.
This is fairly streight forward and rather easy like before if you dont have a table saw use the coping saw. you take the blades tang and you put it on the handle which will be 1/4in larger an each side. should look like this

Now you want to cut out the two handle strips this is also streight forward. and will look like this in the end

THen you sandwhich the sides and clamp them.
after ward you should have this.
(put together)

Now some might be saying mine wont go in the sheath this is simply because the blades thickness is to large hit it with the 60-100 grit sandpaper but youll want to wrap it around a block and you should start to sand sown the sides to gat it at the right thickness and curvature.

If it still doesnt fit you might not have a continuous curve and then that blade will nat be able to use a sheath.
If not Congratulations you made it this far!

Now youll want to sand down the join parts so every thing is flat. because some parts will be uneven this is were a belt sander comes in handy if not youll have to use sand paper and that might take a really long time without a belt sander...but if you have one youll want to get the join areas smooth before curving every thing after that you can drill the pegs. in the hanlde. NOW this is critical. if its a K/W/T with a guard this is critical if not ignore this step.

this is for ones with a guard. you want to keep the square for the habaki about 1/4 of the way away from the handle. this is because the habaki locks the guard in place. when you make the guard you need to make the guards hole as large as the tang. this way it cant go past the habaki so when you put it together the guard will stay in place. now when your drilling the holes you want to put a 1/4 in divider inbetween the habaki and the handle. while your drilling if not ignore this whole step.

Now when your drilling you want it to be about an 1 1/2 away from the edge and directly in the middle so it gets the center of the tang. you dont want to use a normal drill bit you want to use a 3/4in bore. it produces a much cleaner hole after that you can use a 3/4 in dowel and if it goes in tight and you need to maybe tap it in with a hammer dont. youll thank me later. cause you need to take it apart before chamfering and curving.
Now it should look like this. (on this tanto we used walnut pegs that were home made.)
(with pegs)
(this is with a guard as you can notice the 1//4 in between the handle and sheath.

After you get this youll go through sanding hell if you dont have a belt sander if you do its still alot depending on the wood you used. Now youll want to round the handle and the sheath the curved side of the sheath is easy but the inward sheath is a pain in the ass (easier if you dont have the belt sander sorta)
It should look something like this.

Now some of you will be dissapointed by this but this is part one of my guide part two should come tomorrow hope this has been helpful so far.


09-07-2008, 08:57 PM
Thank you for the tutorial~~~~~ Now I can finish my sword that I've been working on in your style.

09-08-2008, 07:39 AM
Thanks alot! this really gave me some great idears on making japanese swords with wood ^^

09-10-2008, 03:12 PM
OK here we go again :)

Sword making Part 2 of a three part tutorial.

Now if youve been following this tutorial you should have this

Making the guard.

Ok now making the guard can be both easy and or dificult depending on your design and the tools you have. for my wakizashi i will be making the guard of haineko (sp?)

Youll want to start out with a rough square roughly the size of the guard you want

Now this is very important for those who want a sword they can take apart. when drawing out your guard when you draw the hole were the sword fits in you have to make it the same size as your tang other wise this wont work.
Now even if you dont want a sword you can take apart it will still aply to you but instead of leaveing it together you will glue the guard down to the handle.
youll want it to be like this

Ok so now that youve drawn out your guard you will need to cut it out. depending on the complexity of the desing or what kind of tools you have it can be very easy or very hard (my guard was fairly hard due to the color of the wood being very dark and pencil didnt show very well) once cut out you should have something like this

now check your guard and how well it fits if its tight then this is good but if its loose you might have to glue it to the handle if theres a little wiggle you might want to glue it to the handle or you could do this, if there is room between the habaki and the guard when the handle is on you might want to put a small very thin piece of wood almost like a wedge in there. if it gets tight and the guard isnt wobbly then youll want to glue that piece to the guard hole were its wiggly or glue it to the tang [Note: you dont want the tab to be wider or longer then your piece of wood or the sheath wont fit right.]
if every thig is good you should be up to this.

Sorry again but this is the end of part 2.
part three will hopefully have the How to carve out the habaki and How to sharpen the blade.

Hope this helps you out,

09-22-2008, 09:37 PM
i cant wait for part 3, thanx so much malant XD

10-03-2008, 06:41 AM
Damn this is still as sweet as the first part! :D Can't wait either for the last part!

10-03-2008, 08:15 PM
Lol sorry i forgot about this Sorry but ive been working on other things like school :( lol but i will get the final part up tomorrow about how to make the habaki and how to sharpen it and all those little final details. Now cause i went ahead and finished that blade i will be using a blank to show that. lol sorry for taking such a long time :)