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July 20, 2007
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Swordmaking Guide: Part 2 by chioky Swordmaking Guide: Part 2 by chioky
Swordmaking Guide: Part 2 (Planning and Cutting)

Part 1 (Tools and Equipment): [link]
Part 3 (Sanding and Painting): [link]
Part 4 (Fixing and Handle Wrapping): [link]

I would use these updated swordmaking tutorials instead:

:target: The Swordmaking Tutorial: Part 1 (Tools and Equipment) [link]
:target: The Swordmaking Tutorial: Part 2 (Planning and Drawing) [link]
:target: The Swordmaking Tutorial: Part 3 (Cutting out the Sword) [link]
:target: The Swordmaking Tutorial: Part 4 (Cutting out the Tsuba) [link]
:target: The Swordmaking Tutorial: Part 5 (Sharpening the Sword) [link]
:target: The Swordmaking Tutorial: Part 6 (Sculpting the Details) [link]
:target: The Swordmaking Tutorial: Part 7 (Painting and Glossing) [link]
:target: The Swordmaking Tutorial: Part 8 (Constructing the Sword) [link]

Sorry for the long absence between guides they will be completed quite soon now ^^. Now the first guide was about tools and machinery in this guide you will learn how to plan out making the sword so everything goes according to plan and also cutting nice and evenly. So I will write about what goes on in each picture above as a step by step scheme, here goes:

Item 1: First what you need is a good piece of wood. I use pine strip wood and the one in the picture is the largest width you can buy in my shop. With a piece of wood this size you can make curved swords a smaller width piece of wood you should use for straight edge swords.

Item 2: Now you must gather imformation about the sword you are planning to make. The sword I am planning to make is Gin Ichimaru's shinso from the anime Bleach. So I have found a manga page showing the sword so I know what it looks like. Look at manga for detail and anime for colour.

Item 3: Next with a suitable picture of the sword straight on view get a ruler and measure the handle, guard and blade. Then use ratio's with the persons height do a bit of math and you will work out the size of the sword in real life. For this sword its 6 inches for the handle and 12 inches for the blade 18 inches overall.

Item 4: Drawing on wood can be VERY difficult becuase of the wood grain. So if you want to draw complicated parts of the sword onto wood to cut out use a template. With a template you can draw accurately onto the wood. Also once you cut a part out overlap with the template to see if its right.

Item 5: When cutting out multiple parts from wood try to use as much of wood as possible. This will save wood and will leave you more for your other swords. This makes cutting a tad harder but saves wood.

Item 6: Now with a appropriate lengh of wood draw down the tang of the sword. I work with inches so i use a tapemeasure and make accurate measurements. Inbetween the middle of the handle and blade leave a gap according to the hieght of the wood it might be 0.5 cm. For drawing a curve all i can say is keep drawing till its right.

Item 7: Now draw the guard of the sword. Now if the guard is like the one shown which is diffifult to cut use MDF wood becuase it is stronger then the pine and wont risk damaging the guard.

Item 8: Is the handle parts which you will sandwhich with Item 6. Most handles should be rectangle so there simple. In the pictures I have three but i'm using 2 its just saving wood and i have one spare if i mess up one.

Item 9: Now you have drawn out all the parts of the sword on different pieces of wood the planning is now complete. Next shall be cutting everything out.

Item 10: For cutting straight lines like the handles lower the hacksaw as much as possible like in the picture and saw. This will give the wood a guide line when your going to saw so it wont swerve off course.

Item 11. When you have the guide line set tilt the hacksaw to a 45 degree angle and saw fast you will saw through the wood alot quicker and more accurate if you do it this way.

Item 12: One you have 2 handles cut out sand the sides with sandpaper but not too much just to get rid of the splinters and then set it aside.

Item 13: Next onto the blade with a hacksaw do the same method of sawing shown in Item 10 and 11 along the handle of the tang.

Item 14: However you cannot use that method when the hacksaw cannot move anymore forward becuase of the bar as shown in the picture. So saw as much as possible making a guide line where you need to cut straight on the blade.

Item 15: Now use a coping saw and tilt the saw blade as shown in Item 10 and keep it that way along the curve of the blade. Sawing like this will keep bumps in the curve to a minimum so it saw's more accurate. Take breaks when sawing so the blade doesnt heat up and retighten the blade lots.

Item 16: When sawing you will acummalate ALOT of wooddust. Wooddust piling up will obscure the pencil line of which your suppose to cut so blow it away. However blowing away cuases the dust to go into the air which might be bad depending if you wear glasses.

Item 17: Once you reach the end of the blade tip move the coping saw blade to a 90 degree angle and saw. With this position saw up and down while angling the saw where you want it to go making it accurate.

Item 18: After you cut out the blade with a smooth file sand away the bumps but not hard. Also with sandpaper sand away the rought edges to keep it nice and smooth.

Item 19: With the guard it depends what type of shape guard it is to cut. My guard shown is VERY difficult to cut so I always had the coping saw blade at a 90 degree angle.

Item 20: Once you cut away the guard with sandpaper sand down the rough endges as said before. This guard took a terribly long time i would like to add and making sure it wouldnt snap was hard.

Item 21: Success!! You have cut out all the parts needed to build you sword. For cutting out the hole in the guard will be explained in the next guide.
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nick813 Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2013
I use a Japanese 'pull' saw,rather than a hacksaw...hacksaws are designed for cutting metal, they are not cheap! Yet with a little practice you get a smooth 'finished' cut. These saws work well on both 'soft' and 'hard' wood.( I use ash, a 'hard' wood with very little water no great need to 'season' this wood. Hard wood when seasoned will keep the sword blade crisp and sharp longer than a soft wood blade...they are however more difficult to work.)
A woodsword maker in Dorset UK.
chioky Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2013  Student Artisan Crafter
japanese pull swords are quite rare in the UK, you can do alot with the right tools
missmarzo Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2011  Student General Artist
Hi I'm planning on doing a wood katana (or at least try too) and I was wondering how thick was your piece of Pine? like 1x4 or x4 ? I sorry if you have already said this information somwhere but I did not see it. Thanks.
chioky Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2011  Student Artisan Crafter
well for one, I didn't use imperial measurements for that measurement, however it is 5mm
missmarzo Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2011  Student General Artist
thanks for the answer and I thinks it's 1/8 inche in imperial measurements. I'll let you know about the final product (if I ever do it)
sfilipino Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2011
hi chioky. I have a question about the tsuba. What should the demensions be for the rectangle in the center of the tsuba? Does the measurements really matter?
chioky Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2011  Student Artisan Crafter
it needs to be the same size as the thickness of the blade
sfilipino Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2011
thanks chioky. One more thing, isnt half a centimeter thickness going to make the wood a little....floppy? pretty common sense if you think about a long piece of wood with a thin probably will be floppy, right?
sfilipino Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2011
thanks chioky. One more thing, isnt half a centimeter thickness going to make the wood...floppy? Mostly the blade, since the tsuba is pretty small and isnt a problem. i planned out every little part of the katana except the reason why its so thin.
zankpakutogirl Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2011
that a lot of step to do but i was planing to it as a cardboad one instade it is there a way i could make a zanpakuto of momo hinamori sword before the 24 of April for the anime punch convention.
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