View Full Version : Pyrography? for kanji on a ken?

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10-06-2005, 04:12 AM

I wonder if anyone has any tips for putting kanji onto a Ken.

A friend recently said to me to use Pyrography (Wood Burning) to burn the kanji on.

Does anyone know what would be the best way? I was thinking of carving it as well, but that would be very teadeous.

I would be interested in any tips or suggestions..

(I would like to do it myself rather than send it to a manufacturer, as I like the personal touch of working on my own ken)


Steve N

10-06-2005, 05:29 AM
Hi Steve,

I haven't tried to put kanji on a ken, but about 5 years ago my sister used her pyrograph to put my initials on the end of my ken and jo. It was very effective as they are still there, clear as day, after much use :)

It's a good idea to use pyrography as it's much longer lasting than ink and much neater than carving. I think it looks good too!

Maybe practise on a spare piece of wood until you are happy with the result, then go for it :)


Erick Mead
10-06-2005, 07:52 AM
I tried it on both my jo (not brave enough to do my bokken). It is OK, but writing kanji with the tip of a soldering iron is a delicate art.
Practice as much as you can before trying it on your bokken. I haven't got that kind of time. Sadly. A brand would be more certain, but requires metal carving or casting, and in a mirror image at that.

I could think of some interesting alternatives, such as writing with thin, non-waterbased glue and dusting the character with gunpowder :hypno: Matches --matches -- I know have some matches here somewhere ...

I REALLY don't have that kind of time

Erick Mead

10-06-2005, 11:40 AM
Not sure about the gun powder,, :)

I want something that is personal.. I think spending the time on the pyrographing would be just that.


I would have thought it was easier on a bokken rather than a jo as the bokken is wider. --?

I'll give it ago and let you know how it went..

fingers crossed!

10-06-2005, 12:13 PM
i put kanji on my bokken , i just carved it in.

John Boswell
10-06-2005, 01:54 PM
Here is an interesting thought that Jun might even appreciate:

Lan Powers, a friend and aiki-buddy of mine, took one of Jun's "tattoo's" sold here on aiki-web and tattooed it to his Jo. Lan then used that kanji as a guide to burn the kanji into his jo.

Another tool that might be good would be a Drimmel wood carvering tool. They are small and made for little jobs like this or other things as well. I would think using a drimmel to carve the kanji via Jun's tattoo's would be a good way to get the cut into the wood... then you can come back with a soldering iron and burn the cut-out for a nice finish.

BUT... if you make money on this idea (and that goes for everyone! :p) I expect to get paid! That or you can send me George Sensei's Randori DVD. :D Thanks

Good luck!

Erick Mead
10-06-2005, 02:11 PM
I love this thread --- the unfathomable mysteries of Pyrokido. :freaky:

No gunpowder , eh? :(

Another, less wild idea -- like with a spray-painting template

Take a printout of the kanji you want.

Fix it to a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil. Dont' wrinkle it.

Take a hobby knife/x-acto on a firm flat surface you can cut into, and cut the kanji out of the sheet material. Remove the paper.

Wrap/tape the foil sheet securely around the bokken, jo (insert object here) with the kanji oriented the way you want (shiny side out, no wrinkles).

With a small propane torch, or even a good butane torch-style lighter, lightly flame the exposed kanji areas until consistently charred to the degree desired.

To get deeper burn without too much bleed through make more, and lighter passes with longer cooling time between.

It should produce a fairly clear graphic and the foil will reflect the heat away from the unexposed wood.

I have done this for lettering on small plywood signs.

Erick Mead

10-07-2005, 07:02 AM
Very good idea Erick, I think you are on to something there,,

I did a search for pyrographing and the drimmel was said to be the best for the small intregate peices but it costs a lot.

Its the weekend tomorrow and the adventure begins,, i think..

I hope i don't end up with a pyro-ash-pile (my poor bokken) :-(

wish me luck!

John Boswell
10-07-2005, 08:49 AM
Steve man... practice! Don't start out on your bokken! Get some scrap piece of wood and practice a couple times before you go after Bokken-san! :D

Erick Mead
10-07-2005, 09:14 AM
I hope it works.

Remember that in cutting out the kanji there are no completely enclosed characters (unlike for instance "D" "B" "d" "b" p"" "o", etc. in the Western Alphabet). Paint templates for these letters typically require small bars to hold the interior

In kanji (or Chinese which is my background), even a nominally enclosed character (like the box at the bottom of :ai: "ai" in "ai-ki") has gaps between strokes. There are three separate strokes in that box figure. (As a separate character in Chinese it is "Ko," meaning "mouth.")

When cutting a template this is critical to remember to leave the gaps or exagerate them slightly.

Erick Mead