Introduction: How to Make a Tsuba for a Wooden Bokken
This is a how-to guide that I made when constructing my own wooden bokken. I read a great how-to on this site, but it didnt show me how to make the Tsuba(or guard) So I had to make one up myself.
For the Sword how-to, the link is here:https://www.instructables.com/id/EMVOZXMBO2EP286GNG/
I will also make a sword guide similar to TTF's method in the future
Step 1: Making the Notch
For the tsuba to fit into the handle nicely, you must first construct a notch. This can be done with a dremel tool, or by had with a chisel.
The first step is to mark where the notch will be on the bokken. If the bokken is katana length, use 4 hand over hand measures. Wakizashi, 2 and a half. Tanto, one and a half. Judge the hand method to the length of the sword.
The second step is to take your handle material(any kind of wood is ok. But it must be 1/4" or larger. Anything thinner will break.) and trace the outline on the bokken.
Afterwards, take your chisel or dremel tool, and cut out between the markings. using a wood rasp also works.
Step 2: Cutting the Tsuba
Next, you have to cut the material for the tsuba. I myself used Oak Screen Moulding, which is 1/4" thick, and has one rounded corner. Measure out the length you want the tsuba to be, and make sure its a bit larger, and cut it. place the cut piece onto the rest of the stock, then mark and cut.
Step 3: Measure the Notch Length
Place the cut piece along the notch. Then mark the area from the inside of the notch to the outside of the bokken. Once you mark the first piece, take both pieces together, and place the bokken cross-section in the center and mark a square around it.
Step 4: Cutting the Tsuba
Now that the two Tsuba pieces are marked, you can now cut them. Take the two pieces and clamp them in a vise. make sure that they are even on the longer side. Now take a backsaw, and cut the inside of the marking line. Do not cut on the line, this is percise work and cutting on the line can ruin your Tsuba. After the first 2 cuts, make several cuts in 1/4" increments from one side to the other.
Step 5: Remove the Waste
Take a chisel, and GENTILY, remove the waste in a diagonal motion. Doing so will eliminate any splitting along the back of the tsuba. Once you safely remove the waste bits, take the Rasp, and smooth out the cut lines.
Step 6: Test Fit the Tsuba
Take both halves and fit it into the notch. They probably wont fits the first time, but just keep rasping the sides and edges to make it fit the notch.
Step 7: Sanding the Edges
Take the two pieces, and match up the inner cut. When they are lined up square, mark each side with a pencil to see where they match up in the end. once you have each side marked, then you can begin sanding them down to make them equal. then you can sand the edges to round them off if you want.
Step 8: Gluing and Finishing
When you finish sanding, apply wood glue to the inner surface of the Tsuba. Then fit it to the bokken. Do not use clamps, as they mess with the final placement. before the glue sets, make sure the angle and placement is straight. Once the glue dries, take the Tsuba to the sander once more, to get the rounded edges to match each side. Before applying finish, make sure to remove all the glue from the Bokken and the Tsuba.
Step 9: Dedication
I want to dedicate these swords to two people.
The Maple Wakizashi is dedicated to my math teacher/Sensei, Mr. Stephen Moses. He helped me achieve the highest mark in math I ever got, and he helped me on my way to becoming a swordsmith, by teaching me the ways of the blade.
The Oak/Fir composite Katana I have dedicated to my buddy Joel, who has taught me to be proud of my carrer choice as a cabinet maker. And he's always helped me to stay happy.