The following series of photos shows some of the steps involved in building a Japanese style knife and sword. Many of the early stage photos show the construction of a shira-saya for a Jason Arnold (Black Sheep Forge) aikuchi, as these are similar to the steps required to make the larger swords.
Building a Japanese-style Knife & Sword.
Carving out the Saya. When carving out the saya (scabbard), the goal is to have wood-to-metal contact the full length of the blade. Poplar is similar to traditional Japanese magnolia, has a straight grain, soft texture, and no acids to attack the blade.
Habaki Rough Silver Castings. Habaki rough silver castings, filed and fitted to blade. The habaki is required prior to finishing the saya, as it holds the blade tight in the sheath. I experimented with two different styles, but the simpler one seemed more complimentary.
Fitting & Finishing the Saya & Tsuka.
Creating the Tsuba. For this set, 1/4'' copper plate was cut and pierced. Wax-cast silver ladybugs were then applied.
Making the Fuchi & Kashira. For weapons that were carried, grips were fitted with rayskin and silk braid-wrapping, plain or decorated guards, spacers to provide a tight fit, and grip collars and butt caps to hold the grip halves together. Scabbards were lacquered and often decorated as well.
The metal furniture often was the product of master craftsmen who specialized in creating the miniature masterpieces — carving, engraving, inlaying, and plating whole battle scenes on a metal canvas 3'' in diameter.
In the photos, copper pieces were filed rough then fired and quenched to create a multi-colored finish.
Architecture and award-winning museum-quality custom handmade knives, edged weapons, powder horns / powderhorns, tomahawks, war clubs (warclubs), jewelry, metal sculpture, cribbage boards, flint and obsidian knives, Japanese swords, menorahs, and more from Tucson, Arizona artist and architect Larry Gotkin.