Dual Katana Display Stand

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Project by jsheaney posted 02-20-2011 07:53 PM 6718 views 8 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I am a member of the Woodworkers Guild of Rhode Island, which is not far from Canton, MA, which is the location of the shop of Tommy MacDonald. One night our guild had a field trip to visit his shop. We saw the Bombay Secretary, which is completely awesome. He told us all about his new show, which they had just finished producing and was just about to air. He did a cool demo for us. Then he pointed to a few scrap bins and told us to take whatever we wanted because it was all getting tossed into the trash.

I walked away with two flitches of a walnut crotch, one oddly shaped piece of walnut with lots of sap wood and a bit of spalting, and one small piece of very nice dark walnut. Sometime during the build of my first katana stand, I took a look at these pieces of walnut and started wondering what I could make from them. It didn’t take long to realize that the two crotch pieces were perfect for another katana stand. The spalted piece was just enough for the stretcher and the third piece was just enough for the base. It was like it was meant to be. The only wood that did not come from his scrap bin is the little bit of ebony.

I usually launch Google SketchUp at the start of a project, but I find it difficult to deal with curves. I decided to start designing the old fashioned way with pencil and graph paper. The main issue was getting the sides. I decided to design for two katanas, mainly because I wanted to maximize the amount of this beautiful grain that I could expose. I took the basic U shape from the first katana stand and placed two of them where I knew they needed to go relative to each other. Then I started drawing around those constraints. It was a surprisingly pleasant process, given that I have no drawing ability.

I did actually use SketchUp for the rest of the model. After I shaped the sides, I took a picture of one of the sides and of the other pieces of wood. I then used those pictures as textures. I scaled everything to actual size and then carefully trace the outline of the side picture and pulled it into a 3D shape. I’ve included a picture just to show how accurate a representation you can get by importing pictures of the actual wood in your project.

I used this project to justify buying an oscillating spindle sander. I honestly couldn’t figure out a good way to deal with all the inside curves any other way. I have a drum sanding bit that I chuck up into my drill press, but this is way better.

There was barely enough length for the stretcher, so I inserted floating tenons into the ends. I applied the strips of ebony to the sides first and then created the arcs with a hole saw in my drill press. I used dowels to connect the sides to the bases. This was very helpful in locating them during the glue up.

Every bit of this design was dictated to me by the wood grain before I ever started putting pencil to paper. The arcs coincide with the rings and appear to radiate up from the base. The radial lines shoot straight up and open up like a flower as they rise. The shape looks like an evening gown worn by a shapely woman. I tried to emphasize the feminine form by adding the ebony, which was intended to suggest shoes, and placing the whole thing on a masculine base. I specifically did not sand the edges on the base to keep the lines crisp and sharp in contrast to the sides.

I wanted the sides to be ultra smooth and I wanted the grain to pop without being splotchy, so I pre-finished them with two coats of shellac, which I then sanded back. This sealed the wood and I think it was a good idea because I didn’t have any problems with splotching. I also pre-finished all of the pieces with a couple of coats of Bush Oil. I then put another half dozen coats on after assembly. I finalized it with a coat of Renaissance Wax.

Enough with the katana stands already. I’m on to other things. I’d like to give a big shout out to Tommy MacDonald. Thanks for the wood! Imagine; this came from his scrap bin!

-- Disappointment is an empty box full of expectation.

4 comments so far

View Brit's profile


7374 posts in 2838 days

#1 posted 02-20-2011 08:04 PM

You’ve done the Katana proud. Beautiful wood, good design and great craftsmanship.

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View steliart's profile


2595 posts in 2683 days

#2 posted 02-20-2011 09:07 PM

nice display!

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4241 days

#3 posted 02-20-2011 09:30 PM

Gorgeous wood and stand, that sword is beautiful too. Looks genuine with the Damascus Steel blade. Interesting sidebar knowing it came from Tommy M’s scrap box..

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View WoodSpanker's profile


519 posts in 3387 days

#4 posted 02-20-2011 09:45 PM

Very nice! :)

-- Adventure? Heh! Excitement? Heh! A Woodworker craves not these things!

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