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Kozuka Parts and Pieces


tsterling

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How are kozuka fabricated? In other words, how does one go about making the parts of the handle, assembling them, how is the blade attached, etc? Soldered, screwed, glued...?

 

While prowling the internet I notice most things described as "kozuka" seem to only be the carved handles, seldom with a blade attached. Does a kozuka come apart like the big swords, so the blades have been lost over the years?

 

I'm completely clueless...(yes, Ford, in most things ;) ) but especially this!

 

Thanks in advance...

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Soldered, screwed, glued...?

 

Does a kozuka come apart like the big swords, so the blades have been lost over the years?.

 

Hi,

 

I do not know exactly but I am guessing :D : the blade are glued like european kitchen knifes. The problem to be solved is similar. The european knifes handles are filled with a mixture of shellac and powdered firebrick. The blades are softly heated and pushed into the handle.

Perhaps western collectors only esteem the kozuka handle. Maybe the same phenomenon as with tsuba and swords. ;)

 

Karl

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I have examined a few of kozuka in museum collections, including the collection that I worked with. In all of the ones that I have seen the blade is set into the handle by friction alone, sometimes with a piece of paper wrapped around the tang. It is my understanding that the blades are supposed to be removable, although I am far from being an expert on them.

 

George Stone's book "The Construction Decoration and use of Arms and Armour" has a couple of pages on kozuka, with several photos of blades, mind you, they are not high quality photos, as the book was published in the '30s.

 

Phil

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Thanks for the replies, guys. Interesting and simple (elegant) solution, the spring-loaded blade concept - very Japanese.

 

I've reviewed all the other kozuka postings, but still am foggy on the handle part - how is the handle itself assembled? In other words, the sprung handle fits into a mortice in the handle, but how is that mortice formed?

 

I would make it of three pieces, two outside face pieces and a center one the same thickness of the blade, cutting the slot/mortice into that center piece, soldering them all together and then trimming to the outside shape. Or one double thickness piece, with the mortice cut in it, then a thinner outer face soldered on - so the blade ends up in the center of the sandwich. Is any of this close to the "school solution" of kozuka fabrication?

 

I noticed on one of Ford's kozuka, the front face is iron/steel and the back is some other gold-colored metal...

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soldering them all together and then trimming to the outside shape. Or one double thickness piece, with the mortice cut in it, then a thinner outer face soldered on

 

Aloha Tom,

 

Does this mean that the kozuka is all metal, or a decorative metal sheath over a wood core?

 

Karl

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The ones that I have seen are all metal, and hollow. I have seen the bent tang, but it was wrapped in paper as well. Probably the fit loosened up a little.

 

My understanding of them is that they were supposed to be thrown. Not to be too gruesome, but when they hit their intended target, the handle was supposed to be loose enough that you couldn't use it to pull the blade out easily. But there had to be enough tension on the tang to hold it together when being thrown.

 

They are likely made in a similar manner to what you describe. The decoration is only on one side only, so the solder joint could be anywhere. I must confess, that I never thought to look for a solder joint, but I'm sure that there are many solutions to fabricating kozuka, either by forming one piece over a mandrel and soldering on the ends, or from three or four pieces.

 

Phil

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Aloha Tom,

 

Unless you want to be true to tradition, does it matter? I revisited a link that the elusive Mr. Hallam posted over in Tools and Technical that leads to some guys that should know, here. A search in their forum, on this topic, produced bits and pieces. If you can pose the question as a non-member, they might respond. :mellow:

 

Karl

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Hey guys. I've been waiting for Ford to jump in(hope you're OK Ford) and been a bit elusive myself. :o

 

kozuka are the handles- kogatana are the blades. Can be collected together or separately. Friction fit as described above.

 

kozuka are all metal, often the finer ones have different metals front and back. Traditionally fabricated with the edges of the same metal as the front. The back can be decorative but always more restrained and no raised inlay. Arched top and flat back.

 

I made a few years ago that were cast(horrors! :mellow: ). If I made one now I would go the more elegant fabrication route, making the front and sides from one piece. I would engrave two 45 degree cuts the length of the piece, where the sides fold down, and solder those folds shut before soldering the back on. There is a small plug soldered in for an end cap opposite the tang entry.

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Guest ford hallam

Hi Jim, Fellas

 

sorry for the long silence too, I wasn't trying to be elusive :( we merely had no access to our server for 4 days last week and yesterday we had a power outage from 10 am until 11:30 pm! We were out when it started and as we usually come and go though the electric garage doors we were locked out until this morning! My car had the drivers window smashed and my mp3 player nicked just before the power went down and my eldest son ended up in casualty yesterday afternoon. Some cretin at school hit him on the cheek-bone with rock! He looks like Rocky Bilboa now :( , after he lost! :mellow: Today has been uneventful....so far :o

 

Jim has described perfectly, a little tutorial I've just prepared. I'll post it in a new thread in a moment.. I've used diagrams to show the method and will add photos when I get a chance to make up an actual blank. I think the diagrams are sufficient though.

 

cheers, Ford :)

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Sounds like you had an interesting week, Ford! Best wishes for speedy recovery for your son, and a quick resolution of the other non-fun things.

 

Just looked at the kozuka tutorial - outstanding! I would never have figured that out...once again, the clever Japanese came up with a practical solution that also works esthetically. Now to develop the skill to allow me to achieve those simple things! Will it never end? (I hope not!)

 

Many thanks to all those who contributed to my question. It's so nice to have a place where we can come and ask silly questions and get real answers!

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Guest ford hallam

Thanks fellas, for the kind wishes for my boy, he's looking pretty swollen and purple in the face now but no lasting damage thankfully.

 

Aloha Karl, I try to make myself exclusive, but then no-one comes! :mellow:

 

regards, Ford

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