How to Make a Bokken Sword

Written by michelle raphael
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How to Make a Bokken Sword
Craft your own Bokken sword. (swords image by Pavel Losevsky from

If you want to participate in Japanese sword training, you need the right sword. The wooden sword used in Japanese sword arts is called a bokken, or a bokuto. The bokken is similar to a real sword in weight, feel and curvature, but it has no sharp edge. You can make your own bokken sword with some basic cutting and sanding tools.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Wood board 1 inch thick and 2 inches wide
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Bokken
  • Paper
  • Band saw
  • Jointer
  • Spokeshave saw
  • Belt sander
  • Sandpaper
  • Tung oil
  • Soft cloth

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  1. 1

    Select the wood to make your bokken. Choose the strength and weight of wood based on how you intend to use your sword (select the "Aikido FAQ" Reference link for more details). Select wood with a smooth grain pattern that runs to the end of the piece with no knots.

  2. 2

    Measure 41 inches for the length of your wood board and two inches for the width with a tape measure. Mark the lengths on your board with a pencil.

  3. 3

    Borrow a bokken sword and lay it on a piece of paper. Trace around the perimeter of the bokken with a pencil, then cut out the shape with scissors.

  4. 4

    Lay the template you made in Step 3 on top of your wood board. Trace the template unto the board with a pencil.

  5. 5

    Cut the board with a band saw. Cut along the shape you outlined in Step 4. Follow the curves with your saw. Turn the board to work on each side's curve.

  6. 6

    Shape the kind of tip you want. To taper the sword at the tip, use a pencil to mark the taper on the convex and concave sides of your sword. Make a series of longer passes over your sword toward the tip with a jointer.

  7. 7

    Shape the handle of your sword with a spokeshave saw. Draw a square or oval shape on the end of your sword. Align the long axis of the handle with the upper edge of your sword's blade. Cut around the shape using the saw.

  8. 8

    Sand the blades of your sword to make them smooth. Use a belt sander or handheld sandpaper to smoothen the wood and close the pores.

  9. 9

    Finish your wood sword with Tung oil. Pour Tung oil on a soft cloth and rub it onto the wood. Rub in the direction of the grain and work the oil into the wood.

Tips and warnings

  • Cut the blade of your sword at a 45-degree angle to get a round-looking blade. You can also angle your saw more in a vertical direction to produce a thin blade.
  • Do not finish your wood sword with varnish or urethane. These finishes will make the surface of the wood sticky.

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