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Habaki- Form or Function??


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I just started making Habaki, using bronze. Nice look and I can play with the finish. I was doing some stress testing with Habaki, these are VERY tight. This blade bent very different. My other blades have the design where I put a step in with a file to fit the guard.

 

Off to a buddy that is a retired engineer. The Habaki equiped blade showed different vibration dampening and shock dampening. With the Habaki off, the blade even felt different in the hand when struck. The engineer felt that the bronze collar was acting to damped shock and relieve stress at a critical junction. He said that it was common practice to use bronze or copper to "Quiet" a metal part. Now they use resin and composits or the metal composition is modified to take stress.

 

His recomendation was to use a collar or Habaki on all my blades to "quiet" the blade and relieve stress. He also recomended that I stop putting the filed step in, big engineering mistake.

 

Anyone have info or thoughts on this?

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that is exactly the explanation I get from my martial arts (sword) teacher

 

he prefers that all of the koshirae of a japanes sword be malleable (no "steel") to gain the full effect

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Having played with traditional, alternative/pseudo traditional, and even tactical versions of katana I have come to the conclusion that there is a whole lot more "tuning" going on than meets the eye. Like Steven said, there are reasons for types of koshirae and the metals and relative sizes/thicknesses and their placement at various places along the blade. There is more to the shape, construction, and materials used on a sword mount (this includes the habaki) than just making it all fit together and look nice. :)

 

The mounts and the habaki can drastically affect the performance and handling characteristics of the finished sword. It's probably the most misunderstood aspect of the Japanese sword as a weapon instead of a cultural/art icon. A habaki, the tsuba, seppa, fuchi, and kashira, the placement of the ana for the mekugi (pins that hold the blade in the handle) and even the style of wrapping and material used all have a profound effect on the engineering aspects and the performance of the unit as a whole.

 

It's why I won't allow folks to tell me how to mount them or dictate the parameters or choose hardware and specify handle length and why I won't use mismatched hardware. You're an astute guy to have discovered this. B) I know guys who have been collecting swords or making/mounting stuff for years that would roll their eyes at the thought that the habaki does more than just make a seal for the saya. It actually can be used to establish the entire harmonic performance of the entire sword and needs to be made for the blade and with the rest of the mount in mind.

 

Brian

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I am a retired dentist. Did quite a bit of research on modifying metal implant surfaces. Mostly titanium and calcium coverings. Learned a lot about the stress areas when you join dis-similar materials. Most fractures that we saw were due to different flex and elongation patterns. One way to quiet an interface is by using a softer wrap. This approach has been used on bearings and cylinder sleeves for ages.

 

One of my Japanese instructors took a bare blade, had me lightly swing it in a downward arch. Then returned the sword to me with my eyes closed and repeated the action. Entirely different feel. The only change was that he put the Habaki on. The sword felt less twitchy.

 

I have been trying to design Habaki and bronze collars on to all my blades. Hunters, everything. It is a big step, but the knives feel very different.

 

We took the same blade and placed a tuning fork on the back. The one with the Habaki had very little vibration transfer. We also struck the blade with a metal rod, same difference. We then took a cement vibration rod that is used to get the bubbles and voids out of cement wall pours. This thing shakes like hell. First with Habaki, then without. Without the Habaki resulted in small cracks on the edge.

 

I am trying to incorporate this design into everything. If you want, I will post pictures as this goes.

 

Do you know of anyone looking into this?

 

Jim

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If you want, I will post pictures as this goes.

 

Do you know of anyone looking into this?

 

Jim

 

Dude, I love pictures of anything. Post 'em if you got 'em is my motto. B) As far as "anyone looking into this" do you mean developing the engineering aspects and the "tuning" of swords and mounts using habaki and material selection to improve performance?

 

Not really. Just you 'an me. ;)

 

Brian

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Dude, I love pictures of anything. Post 'em if you got 'em is my motto. B) As far as "anyone looking into this" do you mean developing the engineering aspects and the "tuning" of swords and mounts using habaki and material selection to improve performance?

 

Not really. Just you 'an me. ;)

 

Brian

 

My information is observations only on VERY small samples, not engineering. But makes sense. The habaki or collar also makes a great transition from blade to handle. We have all struggled with files and solder to get this junction to go away. I have some blades that are in the process, I will post some pictures with collars/habaki.

 

Jim

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hmm..., do you guys think non-ferrous riveted bolsters work in the same manner on full tang blades? I've been moving away from them because they add so much weight to a knife. Or do you think it's more because habaki and collars "float" on the blade with a friction fit?

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I have just completed my first fully assembled Japanese style sword. I have basically been practicing but worked quite well this time. Still LOTS of room for improvement. I am proud of my efforts though. This is the third sword I have made, the first few I didn't make a habaki, just formed the blade to look like a habaki where the tsuba connects and then wrapped the tang in cord and did the tsukanami (sp?). But this one I made a copper habaki and carved a handle, then wrapped it. I eventually want to get to making a bronze habaki or brass. Where can a fellow find material on how to form one from these materials. Also where to find the materials themselves. Can they be purchased in sheet form and annealed to work with. I have not found any material (literature) on the process.

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Set43_02.jpgSet43_03.jpgSet42_04.jpgThanks for the link, I have seen it. Actually gave me some info as to making my copper habaki. It is the forming of brass and the process of anealing brass or bronze that I need (well, want.. i mean).

 

Just cause I'm sort of proud of my creation (which is crude). I am going to put a few pics on here. I can see myself practicing for years. Time is hard to find, with small children in the house, to put into really working on quality right now. I am just trying to learn the process' and the fundamentals. I shaped this blad from a piece of cold rolled steel from my workplace about 36" x 1/4 x 1" with a forge i built out of cinder blocks, pipes and an old leaf blower.

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FOR SOME REASON IT CUT THE WORD "THANKS" OFF THE LAST POST I MADE. ?? I WAS SAYING THANKS FOR THE LINK, ALTHOUGH I HAVE SEEN IT BEFORE. JUST WANTED TO VERIFY IT.

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brass, copper, and most bronzes are heated to black and quenched in water to anneal. sodium bisulfate(swimming pool acid) mixed in warm water will remove the oxides.

 

 

well, the reason I was wondering about anealing such as brass, I had a piece of brass that I was going to experiment with and it became brittle and just broke all apart once I heated up and quenched it. Not really sure what I did wrong.

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Not all copper or brass is the same. I like to cast my habaki from Jewelers Bronze. They fit perfect and polish very well. You will need to find brass or copper that can be worked. I now fit a collar or Habaki on all my blades. Function & Form. Here is a 1095 Hunter with brass guard and bronze habaki.

 

Jim

Edited by JB Blades
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Not all copper or brass is the same. I like to cast my habaki from Jewelers Bronze. They fit perfect and polish very well. You will need to find brass or copper that can be worked. I now fit a collar or Habaki on all my blades. Function & Form. Here is a 1095 Hunter with brass guard and bronze habaki.

 

Jim

DSC_0107.JPG

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very nice work! where do you purchase the material? (jewelers bronze)

 

I feel comfortable with the copper and can find workable material farily easy.

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There are many places to get these casting materials. I have never seen this in sheet form, only castable. I have been quite lucky on Ebay lately getting material.

 

http://www.rainbowsupply.com/productlist.a...;SUBCATID=10642

 

Copper is great also, very classic. Sometimes I am looking for contrast and need a casting of bronze.

 

Jim

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Hey guys... make sure you're working with what you think you're working with, too! A really good guy on one of the other forums was down for a long time after working what he thought was silicon bronze but what turned out to be beryllium copper -- the heavy metal poisoning nearly killed him!

 

Just giving a heads-up!

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I totally agree that habaki are multifunctional parts of knife design. In fact, I have used them on almost everything except full tang knives. I have made habaki of copper, silver, brass, bronze, and stainless steel. In general, fabricated habaki worked out better for me than cast. Attached are photos of two pieces, one swept point knife with brass fittings and ebony handle, the other a double edged sword with all stainless fittings, including the habaki, and wire-wrapped handle.

 

Aside from the above mentioned reasons to use a habaki, I would also say that the ability to leave the tang very wide as it enters the transition area from blade to handle is important, as is the ability to radius the inside orders of the tang stops. For these reasons I have used a modified Japanese tang construction method on virtually ever sword and dagger I ever made. When the mekugi (handle peg) cannot emerge on the surface of the handle, I use a threaded toggle which pins to the tang, and use a high-strength allen screw in the pommel to cinch everything up.

 

Jeweler's bronze (silicon bronze) is available from supply houses such as Rio Grande or Swest in the form of casting grain. But don't be afraid of creating your own alloys, if you add about 12% tin to copper you make a very nice castable bronze, and you get to use up all that scrap copper you have lying around.

 

Be well!

 

Tom Maringer

2006Knife03.jpg

GalatineHabaki.jpg

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Oh... one more reason for the habaki is very practical. Those of you who've ground a few blades, whether stock removal or from forged blanks, know that the "heel" or "root" of the bevels where the grind ends at the ricasso of a non-habaki blade are a real bear. Matching two grinds is bad enough, but for a dagger you have to match four. The contact wheels need constant dressing to maintain the same curvature at the edge, and it is SO easy to completely blow the knife by grinding too thin at the heel in the attempt to match up the grinds...

 

Habaki to the rescue!!

 

In a true-Japanese or modified-Japanese style blade you grind straight off the end of the tang, eliminating the heel of the grind entirely! In my experience this means that I can be highly certain of success since the process is incremental, whereas any blade which had to be ground to the heel involved a certain degree of risk-of-failure. The "payment" for this lessened degree of risk is the making of the habaki itself. Learning to build a habaki then results in increased success at the grinder and an increased level of perfection in the details of the grinds themselves.

 

It never ends though... I still need to learn the technique of the two-piece habaki!

 

Success in all your endeavors!

 

be well!

 

Tom

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