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TSUKA-MAKI (the art of wrapping the tsuka)

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That's a good instruction set there. One I've recently accessed. 'Course the pictures don't illustrate how tough it is to do right. Only curse words are good for that.

 

Dan

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Yeah, if a guy is interested in doing traditional tsuka work that's a great place to start. I don't make my hishi game like Mr. Buck does...I cut them out of folded construction paper. :D

 

My only contribution is to post this animated .gif of tying the final knots. I swiped it from a Japanese sword site and if I find that site again I'll certainly give credit where it is due. I just don't remember where I found it... :wacko:

 

tsuka.gif

 

I like the traditional wrapping methods but a few years of experimentation and use has given me some alternative methods that look *sort* of traditional but are a bit easier to do and last a bit longer. Parachute cord and cotton string and round leather are current passions of mine. And I don't have to make those pesky hishi game and all that. :35:

 

uraside.jpg

 

My suggestion is to read everything you can find and start with all the traditional methods and then experiement with alternatives and stuff. There is a whole world of cool new materials and wrapping styles to work with...paracord being only one of them.

 

Brian

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I cheated some on the hishi-game this last time. Instead of folding paper and all that, I just used squares cut from cereal box cardboard. Since I was using 6mm ito, that stretches out to 5mm, I cut 10mm squares and bobbed off two corners. Makes my wrap look a 100% better than just ito over ray skin. Worked for me but then I don't know what the real thing looks like.

 

Love that animated gif, Brian.

 

Dan

Edited by dan pfanenstiel

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Yeah, if your doing the wraps that use ito or flat tape type stuff and doing the 360 degree flip and crossover you pretty much *have* to use hishigame to keep the ito from rolling in on itself and having the whole deal look bad after a few swings.

 

It's kinda what I like about doing wraps without flipping and using hishigame and using string and alternative materials that don't have much stretch.

 

I have been experimenting with several kinds of wraps that are basically flat and the ito just crosses over without hishigame. Tests in the dojo show these kinds of wraps to be quite a bit tougher and resistant to stretching and loosening than most of the traditional wraps I have used. But then again there is plenty of room for the standard, traditional stuff if it is done well. I find that string and leather cord and stuff gives the handles a little bit of a fussed over and exotic look. In paracords case, the grip and functionality of the wrap actually improve with age and use.

 

Prototype wraps on test blades. Tactical, yes, but the techniques work well for "traditional" handles as well.

 

experimental_moonlit_tacticals.jpg

 

String with hishigame under them are really tough and long lasting and give a great grip as well. I found some cool cotton cord that is actually square, dyes to any color I like and once it is stretched wet simply stays tight and in place no matter what even without those pesky little triangles. :ylsuper:

 

Brian

Edited by Brian Vanspeybroeck

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That be shweet, Brian. Especially if they are different and functional. I like the upper one, lots of contour and contrast. Glad to see your continuing research in handle wrapping.

 

When you going to start taking wrapping jobs so's some of us forgers don't have to? :D

 

Dan

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When you going to start taking wrapping jobs so's some of us forgers don't have to?  :D

40850[/snapback]

 

I ask myself that every day....I really do love the mounting and the polishing and all that more than I like making blades. And, you know Dan, there is so much demand for mounting services (even alternative/tactical style stuff like I love) that I could probably stay real busy.

 

But I have not found a way to make it pay enough to quit my day job and still keep the bills paid. And my day job only leaves me such a small amount of crafting time that I always am compelled to do the stuff that is in the front of my mind.

 

When I retire and the money is in the bank I'm gonna be hell on wheels in sword/knife crafting. I got so many ideas and fun techniques laid in it'll take me 20 more years to do all the stuff I wanna do. And I'm discovering new materials and ways of wrapping and stuff everyday. :ylsuper: It keeps me sane at the day job...if I didn't have knives to make I'd surely go mad. ^_^

 

Brian

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Whoa, have you got a close up of the these? Nice looking work. Thanks Brian.

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Hi Don!

 

Yeah, I have a real weirdness going for Alternative Japanese Style Wraps (AJSW’s) and as a result of testing for durability and Shwankyness I now have more ideas than I have knives and swords to put them on. The normal wraps kinda lost their appeal when I started really exploring stuff like paracord, cotton/leather string, heat shrink tubing, nylon cord, and super thin CA adhesives. Combining natural materials like same and wood and steel with synthetics just turns my crank. I have no idea why. I have a bunch of pix uploaded to my spaces and I’ll just throw a couple out in the spirit of sharing.

 

Here’s a picture of an unfinished prototype tactical tanto with paracord and dyed same’. The finished ones have hamons and nice polishes and may or may not have the cord soaked with CA depending on the style of wrap and material used.

 

unfinishedAkiKazeTanto.jpg

 

A bigger, different view of the two prototypes I posted above….

 

BandW_tacticals.jpg

 

Here’s a close up of one style of no hishigame wrap with paracord….this style definitely needs to be “potted” or soaked but it looks exotic and feels really nice….sorry about all the scratches and stuff but these are not finished knives, just tests of materials, concepts and visual appeal.

 

paratsukasame.jpg

 

Here is a tactical style katana we called Yacho. It’s a staged phase heat treat on 5160 steel done by Randal Graham on one of my blades. 10 ½” handle of heat shrink tubing over the bare steel tang with nylon chain weave cord under black paracord overwrap. This is an awesome blade at 30” cutting edge length and 3+ lbs. I have cut a bunch with this sword and worked out with this sword and the handle is awesome.

 

fulltsuka.jpg

 

Here’s a close up of the un potted paracord wrap on Yacho near the front fitting secured by a bamboo pin. The whole handle is rather “tuned” and the pinned fittings allow a type of micro articulation that I find rather pleasing. This handle tells your hand when the cut is not-so-good by shocking the crap out of you. If the cut is good it sails through with no vibration.

 

fuchiwrap.jpg

 

Here is a shot of that Randal Tachi tsuka I posted above from another perspective that shows how the wrap enhances the grip. The pix show this color as kinda reddish but actually it is chocolate brown. This is un potted paracord in a 2 strand wrap. I pull the guts out of the paracord and then soak it in hot water and hang it for a week with about 50 lbs on it till all the stretch has gone out of it. Semi traditional looking but impervious to sweat, stretching, rot, or whatever. Tough stuff and pretty as well I think.

 

ThemeShot.jpg

 

Here’s a close up of the parcord over traditional wood core fitted with the fuchi of mild steel. Looks traditional. Look Ma! No hishigame to spoil our fun! This paracord stuff is kinda slick if it is not potted when first put into use but after it gets some finger funk and body oil in it/on it the slickness disappears and it hunkers down on the core to form a very nice grip. It actually improves as it ages.

 

fuchitexture.jpg

 

Here is the handle from my personal sword done in black paracord over black dyed same’. This picture is when it was brand new but this handle now has tens of thousands of cuts and swings on it and it really, really is nice to work with. The paracord never gets soggy or sweaty and the grip really is outstanding. I hope to do some of these traditional wooden cored handles with string wraps (cotton and leather) over the next couple years and I’ll pester everyone again with the results when I have pix to show.

 

newtsuka.jpg

 

I have a tsuka tutorial in the works but have not had time to get all the pictures processed and uploaded. If you have questions about some alternative style wraps just ask and I’ll help if I can. Thanks for looking.

 

Brian

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.......................I have a tsuka tutorial in the works but have not had time to get all the pictures processed and uploaded. If you have questions about some alternative style wraps just ask and I’ll help if I can. Thanks for looking.

 

Brian

40925[/snapback]

 

 

AJSW's....I like that term Brian!

Thanks for the great pics. I look forward to the tutorial . I will be contacting you for ideas just as soon as I get a fuchi/kashira and wood core finished for my katana blade. The tsuba should be complete soon.

I like your knives, very sleek.

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hello brian

 

i know this is an old thread but i had a quick question (and maybe a dumb one) what does "un potted" mean thank you for yor time and beautiful handle wraps matt

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DSC01780.JPGThis is a great thread Brian! I share your passion for non traditional wraps. How about a heads up on where you score all those cool cords and such. I have used everything hobby lobby has to offer. This was my latest.

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hello brian

 

i know this is an old thread but i had a quick question (and maybe a dumb one) what does "un potted" mean thank you for yor time and beautiful handle wraps matt

 

My bad... B)

 

I'm an old musician from back in the day when you used to encapsulate or "pot" our guitar pickups with wax to reduce feedback and rattle and all that. Potting is impregnation with another substance and we used to dip the pickups in liquid wax. Potting a handle wrap is impregnating it with epoxy or cyanoacrylic glue (super glue) to bind all the fibers/strings together and weather proof it. It makes the handle more durable and often improves the grip.

 

Brian

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This is a great thread Brian! I share your passion for non traditional wraps. How about a heads up on where you score all those cool cords and such. I have used everything hobby lobby has to offer. This was my latest.

 

Dude, that is a gorgeous knife! I envy that wrap...sweet stuff. You an' me are on the same page. :notworthy: I get all my paracord from Happy Campers and it's *ChEaP*...you can also buy a "hank" of cord in 100' and buy a bunch of colors.

 

http://www.geocities.com/hppycam/newparachutecord.html

 

Plus the place is run by active military guys and that appeals to me a lot. I try to buy supplies and stuff from people I want a relationship with and patronize guys who have the ethic and style I admire. B)

Try some jewelery supply places and macrame outlets. There are amazing types of string and cord that just stimulate the imagination like you wouldn't believe. 1mm leather cord, colored nylon cord, and all kinds of stuff can be had at jewelery supply places that cater to people who bead....I buy it mostly locally but a quick Google search for leather cord or cordage will stimulate the ideas.

 

I bought some chain weave black nylon cord for tying out duck decoys and use it as an underwrap and as a string over wrap for knives. I got it at a hunting store during duck season. ^_^

 

TestTacticals.jpg

 

I'm still working up new ideas and always photograph stuff I'm working on to see how it plays with the eyes in 2 dimensions....these blades aren't done yet. Just playing with ideas and different wraps and testing durability and texture.

 

Brian

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cool... I had no idea there were so many colos of para cord. I have a handle to wrap but mabe I will do some shopping first. Thanks!

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hey Brian

wanted to ask how you do the two strand paracord wrap like on the mt. fuji tachi/katana? i've thought and tried but now i'm convinced that you have devised some sort of contraption to hold the four ends of the paracord....or you HAVE four arms, I'm not sure which. thanks as allways matt

 

PS I don't if anyone else does this but I melt the ends of the paracord and when it's still molten I flatten

it out, so when you do the knots you almost have a built in tool for sliding the cord under and over itself.

sometimes these flat ares break but most of the time they don't

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Thanks for the tip on melting the ends of the paracord, Matt. I also have been doing this for quite some time and it works quite well to heat the paracord to melting temp and then smash the molten end with a pliers with smooth jaw areas...like little needle nose pliers that have a smooth section behind the regular jaws. You can also reinforce the area behind this little aglet with a drop of super glue to toughen it up and add support so it can be forced thru holes and under other existing wraps without breaking. ^_^

 

You are the second guy to ask about that style of wrap (the double strand paracord) but explaining it will take me a whole book....I can show you guys in 60 seconds but writing it up would take a volume. <_< I'm working on a short video tutorial of that specific wrap and I'll try and get it uploaded this week or maybe next weekend dependant on available time...nothing fancy just a video prompt of hand positions and "what goes over what and when".

 

It's like tying yor shoes. It ain't tough but reading it all written out would sterilize you. It frightens me just to try and write it up. :unsure:B)

 

Brian

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There is a FANTASTIC pictorial on traditional Tsukamaki on Andi Brackebusch's web site. This guy rocks!

He made cool Hishi Gami templates and shared them for download - download them, print them, cut them out of cardboard and start doing your traditional Tsukamaki.

Check both his katana and tanto projects HERE

There are tons of useful info on his pages, so make sure you go through all the steps he made in finishing his swords. He documented everything very well, covering all the details.

In brief: his site kicks butt. :)

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You know Brian I hate to admit it , but I've been using my fingers to squash the hot melted para cord(ouch), WHAT A DUMBA$$. A video tutorial? I'M NOT WORTHY. i't never ceases to amaze me how much people help each other in this business/hobby/obsession. having spent alot of time doing custom paint(mostly motorcycles) and dealing with other painters that only see me as competion it's very refreshing!

 

thank you all

matt

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Generally I find that the skilled craftsmen are pretty free with information. None of this stuff is brain surgery...it just takes time and determination and experience to make it go. Folks either have the talent and ability or they don't when it comes to art/craft and if I don't show what I know it will only slow down the dedicated crafters. It won't stop them. B)

 

Besides, I'm not yet intimidated by competition. At this point I'm more interested in cultivating good will and the impression that I am available and a "nice guy" and I wish others would do the same. It'd be a better world if we all concentrated on sharing and being nice instead of getting as many marbles as possible in our own sacks. ;) Then again, I don't depend on the income from this stuff to feed myself yet. I can identify with guys who keep stuff to themselves to keep the information out of the hands of competition...especially if they have families to feed.

 

I am, however, hedging my bets by not showing the coolest and best stuff I can do yet. I'm not a saint. I am holding a bit back but even that I will eventually share willingly. It's propaganda with me actually...there's a hidden message. And that message is "be nice", play nice and you can expect the same. A very important mentor at this knife making thing says "courtesy is owed, respect is earned, love is given" and I try to live that if I can.

 

Brian

Edited by Brian Vanspeybroeck

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Well, this *is* embarrasing but what is, is. <_<

 

My video card is screwing with my computer (again) and simply won't allow me to capture video images and make a little movie to show how this wrap is done. Serves me right for trying to add an upgraded graphics card to my computer and use an antiquated Sony camera to do video instead of buying the video camera I really need to produce this stuff. :(

 

Anyway, my appologies, Matt. I'm not able to devote the time to documenting this properly at this time or actually showing how it is done. My intention was to actually get the video camera of my dreams and produce this video but the camera seems to be out of my price range at this particular moment in time...probably due to the upcoming Christmas season. It may take me a few weeks but there *will* be a video tutorial on this subject posted here eventually.

 

Just not as soon as I'd hoped. ;)

 

Brian

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I was going to ask about "potting" the wrap. I would like to experiment with wrapping wood grips with either paracord, jute, silk, or whatever. I like tung-oil finishes on the wood, but I was wondering how you put on the potting (probably CA superglue) without gumming up the wood? I think it would be impossible to clean up after it's all finished.

 

Does the thin glue just soak up along the threads, and leave the wood alone? I was thinking something like this one from Shiva Ki's website:

 

http://www.shivakicustomknives.com/

k01b.jpg

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Most of my experience with potting is in using CA glues and I find that the super thin stuff is generally the best. It seems thinner than water and if applied to fabrics or porous materials (leather, cotton cord, nylon cord like paracord or even woven nylon string) the spaces inside the weave seem to hold the glue until it cures and binds the entire structure together with plastic. Done correctly with a little finese' and practice the cord often looks completely natural if the cord is potted sparingly. Pouring on or completely saturating the cord seems cause the stuff to run and cure slowly and then it will get onto the underlying handle material be that wood or whatever....so, less is better and application technique is critical.

 

Wayne Watanabe has been using CA for years on his knife handles and if you browse this site and take a careful look at some of the knives you will see that the handles look very natural and not shiny or like the are encapsulated or dripping with excess CA. This is the look we are looking for, IMO.

 

http://www.geocities.com/ww_knives/

 

My first experiments with potting came by wrapping a test wrap of cotton cord over wood and then potting it with super thin CA and I immediately learned that if you just let the wicking properties of the fabic pull the glue out of a thin tip with a small hole it will pull as much of the glue as it needs and no more. Using this wicking technique I never get runs or drips and the potting is pretty much impossible to detect on dark fabrics. White cotton cord will appear to be wet (a little darker...it looks like it is saturated with water) but darker natural fabrics and leather (done well) show little change from the dry/unpotted condition. Natural leather will appear wet but dyed leather looks pretty much untreated. I suggest taking a piece of the material you will be potting and wrapping it over scrap wood and experiementing with application techniques and getting a feel for how much glue the fabric will soak up before it begins to look like plastic. Too much glue ruins to effect and you gain nothing more in terms of durability. Less glue=better aesthetics, IMO.

 

You can pull the same trick with epoxy and it gives even better UV resistance and lasts pretty much forever compared to the CA. CA is very good...epoxy is better/tougher/harder and more resistant to abuse on hard use knives but the application is much more problematic. Epoxy potting is best done with a longer set glue (like 30 minute working times or more) and the mixed epoxy can be thinned by heating with a hot air gun or a hair dryer. The trick with this is to learn how much to apply and how hot to get the epoxy....to much and it will run and drip out of the fabric/cord and make drops or shiny areas on the underlying scales on the handle. The epoxy thins out *a lot* when you heat it and then it will run to where you don't want it once it saturates the cord and the surface tension/wicking properties of the cord are exceeded.

 

In any case, epoxy or CA, you want enough glue to fill the air gaps and voids in the wrap (inside the material....don't use it to make up for a loose wrap with gaps between the fabric) and bind the whole assembly together without running or dripping or having the material over saturated. Over saturation leaves enough incured glue to soak into unsealed wood beneath the wrapping and I personally don't like this look at all. I feel that cord that has been saturated to the point that it looks like it was done with plastic looks cheap, generally. But you can pot it and then carve the plastic (black colored epoxy is very cool for this) to make designs or texture in the impregnated wrap. The Japanese did this a bit by potting the wraps with urushi lacquer and carving the details.

 

shimada8.jpg

 

hikisada10w.jpg

 

I borrowed both of these pix from Tokka and it is a fine place to browse and look at examples of koshirae and evaluate construction techniques due the fine pictures and articles displayed. I'm not sure exactly how the Japanese craftsmen execute this technique or of the materials used but this effect can be achieved by saturating the cord to the point it is virtually solid with plastic and then using fine picks and needles and files to texture the resulting potted fabric. Check this site for ideas: http://tokka.biz/

 

Good luck...ask questions if you need more suggestions! B)

 

Brian

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Thanks a lot Brian! That answers a lot of questions I had about this.

 

So, for a wood grip, I should go ahead and oil finish it like normal, allow it to cure properly (maybe a week?) and then go ahead with the wrap?

 

I will certainly try it on some scrap Paddok. I'd hate to get this far, and have a permanent piece of crapola attached to my blade! I spent an aweful long time working on it so far.

 

Thanks again,

John

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So, for a wood grip, I should go ahead and oil finish it like normal, allow it to cure properly (maybe a week?) and then go ahead with the wrap?

 

I'm not sure about the oil finish on the wood, John. My experience with this has been on raw wood or synthetic or natural materials. I know that CA doesn't want to adhere very well to oily or waxy surfaces and that might or might not be a problem if you don't want it on the wood. I'd think that some sort of seal on the wood is a great idea but an oil finish is just something I have no experience with.

 

If you experiment on a scrap piece of wood, I'd finish/seal the scrap with the same stuff you will be using on the final product. Do as much experimentation as possible beofre you do the knife handle as my experience is that the learning curve on some of this type of craft is kinda steep and we wouldn't wanna mess up a great knife. ;)

 

Some oils and solvents and waxes can react with uncured epoxies and CA in ways that might not be attractive. Once the CA is cured it doesn't really care a lot for lacquer thinner, acetone or pure alcohol but waxes and oils generally won't mess with it. But uncured CA can be a little weird with oil and stuff.

 

Brian

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