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.

14″ Steel Buckler

Advanced Steel Techniques, with Tom Fiocchi 
Ohio University, 2014


buckler-finished-lrThe buckler was cut out of 18g. sheet steel. It went through an initial dishing process, which involved hammering the steel into a shaped wooden stump, and a secondary dishing to create the larger central circle. A 2″ hole was cut out of the buckler and a separate 2” circle was dished and welded to the buckler from the front. All welds were cleaned up.

The whole thing was then planished, polished, and buffed. A pattern was drawn out in Sharpie, and dremeled in with a carbide bit.

The handle was made from a 1” strip of 18” steel cut to shape and bent in a vice. A 1” dowel was split in half and screwed to the metal strap. Brown vinyl was then barged around the dowel. The ends were wire wrapped before the handle was welded to the back of the buckler.