Stage Combat Katana

Rashomon, by Ivor Benjamin
Ohio University, 2014

katana-winters_rashomonThe tsuba, or hand guard, on traditional Japanese swords served as a way of communicating social standing and other personal information about the owner. The design of this tsuba was inspired by the samurai’s wife’s butterfly motif and bamboo leaves. It was carved out of 3/16” plate steel. The rough shape was cut with a jig saw. Then the small areas were hand filed, and finally the detail was laid in with a dremel.

This production had a modern style with Japanese influences. Because of this, we made the handle in a sleek rosewood rather than a traditional cord-wrapping. The blade was purchased, and its was tang inlayed into the wood. 2-1/2” were taken off the tip of the blade for better balance. Three shaped 3/16” steel rods were drilled through the handle and tang and secured with epoxy. The rods provided structural support as well as grips for the actor’s hands.

The pommel was shaped out of 1-1/2” steel round stock and welded directly to the end of the tang. The bamboo motif was repeated here and finished with a good polishing.