My Custom project: Paul Chen Musashi Katana

Discussion in 'General Weapons & Armour' started by Justice, Aug 18, 2006.

  1. Justice

    Justice New Member

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    Hello.

    Recently I purchased a Paul Chen Musashi katana off eBay, the newer generation that features bo-hi (not the newest one witht the performance blades).

    Although a decent sword and a heck of a deal for the price I paid, I decided that aesthetically the sword needed to be "brought up". The blade finish isn't spectacular, the saya was just okay, the wrap in leather was decent, but not great, and a few other things here and there.

    Here's what it looked like before I started.

    http://static.zoovy.com/img/888knivesrus/-/pc_1016_mmk_closed_2

    http://static.zoovy.com/img/888knivesrus/-/pc_1016_mmk_all

    First up, I took off the handle wrap. Leather is my favorite kind of tsuka-ito, but this leather isn't as nice or as tightly wrapped as some of my other pieces. The tsuka is also too long for my tastes, a long 15 inches. Many iaido practitioners like it at around 10.5 to 11 inches, while people who practice tameshigiri usually like it longer at around 12 to 15 inches. This katana isn't particularly bulky, so I went ahead and cut the tsuka down to an even 13 inches.

    [​IMG]

    13 is a good inbetween for me. Not too long, but not too short. It also adds a good visual blance to the katana when the tsuka isn't too short for the blade. I also dyed the rayskin black with a leather dye as a sort of "primer" for the black lacquer I will use afterwards. Black lacquer is the traditional way to color rayskin, but if it ever chips off the white underneath would expose. This way if any ever chips it will still be black underneath.

    The saya is done in a matte lacquer with a "stone" finish, that is little bumps all over the surface. In order to jazz up the appearence a bit I decided to add rattan to the saya. Usually added when a saya either cracks, or if a saya is too thin and needs some extra strength, I actually use it just because it looks nice. I have only wrapped the saya about half way, I am waiting for an order I placed for some rattan to finish it.

    [​IMG]

    The tsuba I replaced with a Paul Chen Bushido tsuba. Much classier than the usual Musashi tsuba used on about everything these days.

    The next and most important step is the tsukamaki. A good tsukamaki does more than add a grip to the sword, it also helps bind the handle together. The tsuka on a Japanese sword isn't particularly hard. Instead they use a fairly soft wood called honoki (roughly the equivalent to poplar in the US) which they wrap in stingray skin and then add a cord over it in a tsukamaki. The tsukamaki helps bind the two halves of the wooden handle together, and the rayskin helps hold the ito firmly in place.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I have chosen a brown cotton ito for the tsukamaki. The pictures here show a practice run, not a finished tsukamaki. The wrap is supposed to alternate to keep it from unraveling, but I didn't here, I was just trying to see how tight I could get it. Also, this ito was too short for the tsuka, so I am going to use it on the Wakizashi I am making a daisho pair with. I also didn't place the menuki in the handle, which I will in the real wrap. Indeed this practice run was a lot better than the one I did a few months ago.

    [​IMG]


    That is all I have now. When it progresses farther, and when I get the wakizashi to work on, I will post more pics.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2006
  2. Patrick Kelly

    Patrick Kelly New Member

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    Interesting way to improve one of these lower end swords. (they're get project pieces if nothing else) I'm eager to see the end result.
     
  3. Justice

    Justice New Member

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    Thanks Patrick. In the cut down picture you will probably like the blade and scabbard project behind it. Scott Byler is going to rehilt that Del Tin blade as a type H viking hilt with a stabilized maple burl handle. The marks on the blade indicate where I want it to be shouldered as it is a monster 34 inches long and 2 1/4 inches wide with a slow profile taper. A good distal taper, but as it is the blade would way over 3 1/2 pounds hilted. Cutting it down should balance it a little better. It is actually the nicest Del Tin blade I have seen out of the 12 plus Del Tin's I used to own.

    Truth be told, I got it for the price of a Practical Plus katana. Considering the cost to quality ratio it is a very good deal.

    However several points on the Musashi blade. The blade finish was sub par what most of the mid-line Paul Chen stuff is. It was as dull as a stone. Well, I may not be an experienced Togi master, but I do have a few blades polishings under my belt. As of such I will more than likely repolish the Musashi katana.

    http://homepage.mac.com/aaronjustice/.Pictures/eBay/polished2.jpg

    I have one blade coming to me soon that I was commissioned to repolish. Not doing it for money, but the owner of the sword is a top notch tsukamaki-shi (I think that's the term for someone who does handle wraps...) so he's agreed to do one for me. I'm decent at cotton, but I am a drunken loon with leather, so I'll leave leather tsukamaki's to the professionals.

    I should have the cotton ito today so I will finally be able to start the wrap. I expect the rest of the rattan in the next few days.
     
  4. Justice

    Justice New Member

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  5. Justice

    Justice New Member

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    The wakizashi is finished even before the katana.

    I screwed up the ura side knot when I was tying it so I will redo it in the future. For now it is incredibly tight and it holds, so it will do.

    http://homepage.mac.com/aaronjustice/.Pictures/eBay/wak1.jpg
    http://homepage.mac.com/aaronjustice/.Pictures/eBay/wak2.jpg
    http://homepage.mac.com/aaronjustice/.Pictures/eBay/wak3.jpg

    I am also in sort of a midway polish with the blade, still need to redo it in 800, 1000, 1500, 2000 grit paper.

    http://homepage.mac.com/aaronjustice/.Pictures/eBay/wak4.jpg
     
  6. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    Nice work dude.
     
  7. Justice

    Justice New Member

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  8. Morgaia

    Morgaia Eystaun,The Grey Alliance

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    My best friend got a Paul Chen katana two years ago, its very pretty....I am jealous lol