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Forum topic by mortontony1 posted 03-08-2010 08:11 PM 1165 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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mortontony1

4 posts in 2461 days


03-08-2010 08:11 PM

Topic tags/keywords: sword help wood question choice planer

Ok, so I’m building a wooden sword for a friend. What wood do I use? I’m looking to make a longer katana style sword. I’m thinking 4ft. min. including handle. I told him I’d try to make it so he could hit stuff with it, but using like, 30% power. Just looking for a wood that won’t break or dent easily and doesn’t cost a fortune to get. I’m going to make a sheath but I don’t think the wood choice of that would do much. Any help would be appreciated!


13 replies so far

View reggiek's profile

reggiek

2240 posts in 2730 days


#1 posted 03-08-2010 08:28 PM

Hmm…not something I would consider making from wood….for one it will be difficult to cut it thin enough to make even a fair edge without breaking or denting….. given the parameters you use…I would think that a medium density hardwood would be nearest to fit the bill. Depending on where you are located would determine which one that would be least expensive. There are lots of tables on wood densities you could consult….most lumber yards could assist with that also.

Basswood would work well for holding detail (cheap too), but would dent if hittin something hard. Butternut the same. I would suspect that oak, ash, hackberry, beech or hickory would suffice (due to the closeness of the grain and overal density)...maple, walnut or cherry might be too brittle (and more costly). Poplar, sycamore pine too soft. Exotics would work but the expense would bar their use.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

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Raspar

246 posts in 2608 days


#2 posted 03-08-2010 09:32 PM

Friend of mine made a couple of really detailed swords out of hard maple and walnut accents. Keep in mind these were for display only. We have taken swings with these but never hit anything. I would hate to see these damaged or as he cut a fine edge on these they could cut something or someone. They were very pretty though, good luck and post pics…

-- Have thy tools ready. God will find thee work.

View hObOmOnk's profile

hObOmOnk

1381 posts in 3587 days


#3 posted 03-08-2010 09:46 PM

The Japanese make wooden katana, called a bokken, out of dense grained Japanese white oak called Shiro Kashi.

-- 温故知新

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4541 posts in 2534 days


#4 posted 03-09-2010 12:46 AM

There are a few woods that would serve you well (Lignum Vitae comes to mind) but you said “doesn’t cost a fortune to get”. I think that forces you to compromise and consider hard maple, white oak, ash or hickory. With respect to moderately priced domestic wood, those are the hardest.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View JimmyNate's profile

JimmyNate

124 posts in 2810 days


#5 posted 03-09-2010 12:56 AM

Get something with grain that matches your shape if possible. Steam bending may be an option if all you can find is straight grained boards. If the grain doesn’t follow the blade, you’ll have two problems: 1) it will break along the grain when you hit it and 2) it will probably react and bow off in some undesired shape.

Be sure to make it thick enough (I wouldn’t go under 1 inch diameter if you can help it).

Prototype in pine. I know, I know it’s not hard and it’s not heavy. It dents like hell but it is cheap and with a few coats of boiled linseed oil it gets a bit of a hard skin.

Don’t think you can escape denting, even with hardwood. Oil helps this a little by filling pores and making the wood more dense. It will take a few coats.

-- "We are what we repeatedly do; excellence then is not an act but a habit." ---Aristotle

View mortontony1's profile

mortontony1

4 posts in 2461 days


#6 posted 03-09-2010 01:04 AM

“Don’t think you can escape denting, even with hardwood.”
Yeah, I knew I wouldn’t be able to completely eliminate denting, but just looking for a less-dentable (lack of a better term) wood.

“Get something with grain that matches your shape if possible. Steam bending may be an option if all you can find is straight grained boards. If the grain doesn’t follow the blade, you’ll have two problems: 1) it will break along the grain when you hit it and 2) it will probably react and bow off in some undesired shape.”
I was going to cut out 1/2 thick by 1.5 wide strips and laminate them in a curve to get the shape I need/want. I used to make a lot of longboards, so I’m no stranger to interesting curves.

“The Japanese make wooden katana, called a bokken,”
I took a lot of measurements off of my friends bokken he got from Japan! I was just looking for something a bit longer.

So, based off of what you guys said and other websites said, I’m going to go with hickory. I’ll be posting lots of pics!

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JimmyNate

124 posts in 2810 days


#7 posted 03-09-2010 10:25 PM

Excellent. It sounds like you are going to have a great sword for your friend. Good luck!

-- "We are what we repeatedly do; excellence then is not an act but a habit." ---Aristotle

View HokieMojo's profile

HokieMojo

2103 posts in 3188 days


#8 posted 03-09-2010 10:56 PM

hickory would have been my vote. if it can take the abuse of being used in tool handles, it’s probably pretty tough.

View Glen Peterson's profile

Glen Peterson

556 posts in 2516 days


#9 posted 03-09-2010 11:15 PM

I made a few practice katana when I studied Aikido about a million years ago. I don’t remember what I made them from, but probably maple. I agree that hickory would be a good choice. Make sure the grain follows the length of the sword. When I lived in Japan I didn’t have my own practice sword and borrowed ones that belonged to the dojo. I don’t remember what they were made of. My first inclination was Japanese cedar, but that’s probably too soft. In any case, you can make them out of any hardwood that can take a beating. We actually hit it other’s swords in class really hard, No breaks, but dents are OK, they are a sign that you are actually working with the sword, not just a poser.

-- Glen

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Glen Peterson

556 posts in 2516 days


#10 posted 03-09-2010 11:16 PM

I foolishly replied without reading all the comments. I believe Randy is correct, the practice swords were oak.

-- Glen

View PeteMoss's profile

PeteMoss

207 posts in 2930 days


#11 posted 03-10-2010 12:02 AM

Ironwood. Kidding, but couldn’t resist. Good luck with your project.

-- "Never measure......cut as many times as necessary." - PeteMoss

View gerrym526's profile

gerrym526

266 posts in 3268 days


#12 posted 03-19-2010 12:21 AM

I’d recommend ash-the wood that’s been used in Louisville sluggers for 100yrs. Can really take a beating.

Pro ballplayers are using more maple bats these days but the wood is brittle, splinters and breaks and the shards are really sharp.

Gerry

-- Gerry

View gbvinc's profile

gbvinc

629 posts in 3406 days


#13 posted 03-19-2010 01:21 AM

I have made several of these for martial arts folks. Hickory is by far the most durable, but heavy. White Oak is also a good choice. Not matter what you use, it will get dinged up if people are having fun with it. But hey, they are made to be used, right?

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