Since the creation of the “katana,” or Japanese sword, wooden “bokken” swords have been used for training and experimenting with fencing techniques. Though still lethal when applied with force, wooden bokken swords offer a more inexpensive and less dangerous option for students of iaido and kenjutsu practicing the traditional cuts and blocks of a samurai sword. Carved of a single length of wood--white oak, traditionally--wooden samurai swords are easily made and make an attractive, safe addition to any sword-lover’s arsenal.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Mitre saw
- Table saw
- Two-by-four, 6 feet long
- Belt sander
- Hand sander
- Measuring tape
- Black marker
- Safety goggles
- Dowel rod or broomstick (optional)
Set up a workspace with a solid horizontal surface and ample lighting for designing and crafting your wooden sword. Grip a dowel rod or broomstick to find a comfortable width for your bokken sword handle. Gauge how thick you want your handle to be and practice swinging the rod or stick with both hands. When you've found a comfortable width for your handle, mark the measurement at one end of the two-by-four.
Mark the desired length of your sword on the two-by-four. Put on your earplugs, safety gloves and goggles. Cut the two-by-four to length on your mitre saw.
Draw an outline for your bokken with a pencil and ruler. For a traditional wooden samurai sword, draw a gently curving blade. Once you are satisfied with the design of your bokken, darken in the outline with a black marker.
Feed your marked two-by-four through a table saw to trim the width to within 1/2 inch of your lines. Turn on your bandsaw and finish the cutting by patiently pushing the wood through the saw blade, adjusting as you go, to cut precisely along the outline of your wooden samurai sword. Don't worry if you stray here and there--minor mistakes can be sanded out.
Sand the corners and edges of your wooden sword with a belt sander, removing all edges and outcroppings. When you've sanded the wood down to your desired width and curvature, run a hand sander along the wood, going in the direction of the grain, to make it smooth.
Tips and warnings
- If planning to use your sword in combat training, choose a durable yet flexible wood to reduce the chance of cracking or splintering along the grain.
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