Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Iaito Refurbishment

Some years ago I bought a fairly cheap, fairly crappy iaito, which I decided to make a bit less crappy.

I started by grinding out the fake etched hamon on the blade and polishing it back to a plain, un-fake finish. Then I put it aside and more or less forgot about it.

I revived the project a few days ago and got to work on making an oak tsuka (grip) to replace the extremely shitty plastic one it came with. I've given it a dark rosewood-ish stain.

I'll replace the original nasty nylon webbing binding with leather, just as soon as I get some to make some 10mm lacing with. That'll be a bit of a job; I'll have to rig up some sort of strap-cutter to make sure it's cut evenly. I'll need about four metres, I think. A strip of grip-tape along the top and bottom will serve to keep it all securely anchored.

Wooden tanto - leather binding
This is some that I did on a wooden tanto about twenty-five years ago, for aikido training. This lacing is only 5mm wide, which is fine for such a small hilt, but a sword requires something a bit meatier.

The fittings — tsuba, kochira, fuchi etc. are all pretty ordinary. They're cast in some sort of zinc-based muck-metal, and have been plated in copper. They all had fairly prominent mould seams left, which I ground out, but of course that exposed the zinc base metal. I originally planned to re-plate them, but in the end I just used some patinating solution (intended for stained glass leads) to blacken the zinc wherever it's exposed, and that will serve well enough I think.

I made a new seppa (the washer between the tsuba and blade) out of a bit of copper. I left it bright, and I'll just let it age to whatever colour it eventually chooses to adopt.

Once the binding is on, it will be functional again as an iaito, and it should look a lot less cheap and nasty in spite of still being pretty much as cheap and nasty as it ever was.


Well, it's done. In the end I used the same leather lacing I'd used on the tanto, first because I already had it, and second because leather lacing — especially wide leather lacing — is ridiculously expensive and I didn't want to spend any more money on it.

It's certainly not a good sword, but it's a better sword than it was.