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Craig Moore 12-23-2020 03:29 PM

Home made bokken
I was going to post this a little while ago but the forum wasn't working at the time. Thought I'd share photos of the home made bokken I've been working on over the last couple of months. Not 100% Aikido because I'm using these for other sword work as well as Aikido related kata. The fixed tsuba is a bit of a give away that they won't end up in our regular Aikido classes. Still thought there might be some interest.

Done plenty of wood and metal work stuff before, some of it weapons related. But this is the first time I've had an interest in hand carving my own wooden weapons. The wood is a Merbau decking plank, which is easily available here. I wasn't trusting my abilities enough to splurge on "proper" wood. Anyway, according to the online wood database information, Merbau is supposed to be a bit stronger and a bit heavier than white oak. In practise I've found at least the stuff here is not that at all. The finished bokken is about 80% the weight of the Japanese red oak one I've had for the last 30 years. Still feels ok to swing but noticeably a little bit light.

Rough cutting was done on a table saw and with a jigsaw. Of course a router was used for the saya hollowing. The rest was all hand carving with a plane, spoke shave and hand sanding. I wanted the matching set of bokken and shoto for myself. But part of the inspiration for the project was that my nephew has expressed some interest in learning sword. So the 2nd bokken with the wood finish saya is a Christmas present for him. We're going to work through some iaido, paired kenjutsu and aikiken together.

**Note having trouble embedding images, still working on it!

Craig Moore 12-23-2020 03:56 PM

Re: Home made bokken
Ok, are there any tips for imbedding pics with [img] tags from Google Drive? I use the code I've used in a number of other forums and it doesn't display.

Here are the links anyway, you'll just have to click instead of scroll:

Ellis Amdur 12-24-2020 10:51 AM

Re: Home made bokken
Craig - First of all, beautiful work. And that's a beautiful wood. I have a website concerned with 'wood for weaponry.' I'd love to add your information in merbau, along with a photo of your work. If that's OK with you, please let me know.
My website is concerned with how a wood stands up to punishment. Are you using your bokken in to person forms - and if so, against Japanese oak (or other oak or hickory) bokken? How does it stand up? Splinters? Dents? How does it feel in the hands with impact on another weapon?

Craig Moore 12-25-2020 03:45 AM

Re: Home made bokken
Hi Ellis. Thanks for the kind words. It's funny because when I finshed them my only thought was never again. Rewarding but many hours of work. But in the last three days I've cut some more merbau and have started shaping it to make a pair of Isshin Ryu practise kusarigama. I can't seem to help myself although they will be much quicker to make than the bokken.

I also have questions about the suitability of this wood for contact training with other weapons. After all the work I'm loathe to even dent these bokken. But I would like to find something I can knock up reasonably quickly and see how it holds up against contact rated Japanese white oak. I'll have to check if the round over bit I've got followed by sanding smooth could make a jo quick enough. Would be fun to test dents to see if it just impresses as we want or splinters and chips. I'd want to ultimately go to destruction to see how it breaks. In general use merbau doesn't crack or splinter like the other hardwood readily/cheaply available here in Oz, Tassie Oak / Victorian Ash (about three varieties of eucalypt). But it is still an open cell grain structure, so despite the quoted hardness I don't hold terribly high hopes.

Please feel free to use the info and pics on your site. If I get around to impact testing, I'll post back in this thread and let you know.

Ellis Amdur 12-25-2020 01:15 PM

Re: Home made bokken
Thanks Craig - I'll wait to post if/when you get impact data, as that's the benchmark for my study. By the way, I have a section on the zaimoku page on various Australian woods, some of which are incredibly hard and strong.
Anyway, you do great woodwork! And if you do get around to testing a jo against kashi, send me a PM.

RickMatz 12-29-2020 10:08 AM

Re: Home made bokken
A pretty exhaustive post on wooden weapons for martial arts practice.

Craig Moore 01-02-2021 12:50 AM

Re: Home made bokken
Thanks Rick. I saw that one, but was interested in experimenting with this merbau that is so readily available here.

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