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Old 02-14-2002, 02:12 PM   #1
thomson
 
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Dojo: Sarpy Aikido Club
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Favorite woods

Just curious what type of wood (or composite) everyone out there prefers for their weapons and why. Myself, I don't have any experience with anything other that Red Oak, being so new to aikido. Exotic hardwoods are of special interest to me, so I thought I throw it out there for people to comment on.

Cheers!
Mike

To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself. - Sun Tzu
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Old 02-14-2002, 02:40 PM   #2
Keith R Lee
Location: Alabama
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Tongue White Oak & Purple Heart

Well, I have 2 bokken, both from White Oak. One is slim, and I use it for kata while the other is quite thick and large which I use for suburi. My jo is made from Purple Heart and it is fantastic. Admitedly, the only real reason to have anything made from Purple Heart is for aesthetics, but who cares. The Purple Heart gives the jo a unique look and feel. Good stuff.

Keith Lee
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Old 02-14-2002, 06:20 PM   #3
Niadh
Dojo: Berkshire Hills Aikido, MA
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My current bokken is Maple. I made it so the maple was a very nice piece. I like the comprimise of weicht to strength, and the feel of it is just right.
My current Jo is Ipe. Very heavy and quite strong, but I made it with about 7/8" Diameter. It is finished a deep burnished brown and has a wonderful feel.
I have made some bokken from this also Nice and strong, but you feel the weight after a short time.
Niadh

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Old 02-15-2002, 05:56 PM   #4
lt-rentaroo
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Hello,

I prefer Japanese White Oak (Shiro Kashi) for bokken. Japanese White Oak differs from the White Oak found in the United States in that the Japanese White Oak tree is an evergreen. This means the tree grows fairly uniformly year round making the growth rings less eratic and therefore the wood much stronger. White Oak trees (at least most of them) found in the United States are deciduous trees, meaning the leaves fall off in the fall. The tree does not grow much over the winter months and then in the summer the tree grows like crazy causing the growth rings to be further apart. This inevitably makes the wood less strong.

For Jo, I like hickory. It has great impact resistance and a nice "feel" to it.

Last edited by lt-rentaroo : 02-15-2002 at 06:47 PM.

LOUIS A. SHARPE, JR.
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Old 02-16-2002, 07:37 PM   #5
shadow
Dojo: Aiki Kun Ren (Iwama style)
Location: Sydney
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my jo is made from tasmanian oak (australian wood) and is big, heavy, strong and (because I'm a tall bastard) long. It constantly gives my wrists grief, especially with those katate saburi, but I love using it for kumi-jo, especially watching peoples expressions when such a big thing comes at their head, really forces mai-ai down people's throats cause a whack from my big thing will render you senseless......haha

happiness. harmony. compassion.
--damien--
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Old 02-21-2002, 10:14 AM   #6
Sherman Byas
Dojo: Anshindokan Dojo
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I rececently received as gifts a Jo and Bokken made of Shiro Kashi. I love them both very much. I'm cautious using them against Red Oak and such because I've seen my Sensei break less well made Bokken. You cannot go wrong wtih Shiro Kashi or Hickory weapons. This is for everyday use. Now if you must have custom-exotic then go ahead. By the way my weapons came from Tozando in Japan and both can be purchased rather inexpensively, less than $75 I believe. http://tozando.pair.com/eng/

Good Luck in your training!
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Old 02-21-2002, 11:38 AM   #7
Brian Vickery
Dojo: Aiki-Buken Aikido
Location: Gilbert, Arizona
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Re: Favorite woods

Quote:
Originally posted by thomson
Just curious what type of wood (or composite) everyone out there prefers for their weapons and why. Myself, I don't have any experience with anything other that Red Oak, being so new to aikido. Exotic hardwoods are of special interest to me, so I thought I throw it out there for people to comment on.

Cheers!
Mike
Hi Mike,

I like white oak for bokken/jo used for suburi only. Looks nice ? is easy to maintain. But weapons used during kumi-tachi/kumi-jo I go with Chinese Waxwood. Solid, heavy, does not fracture when it finally does break, but instead it splits and stays in one piece due to its fiberous interior (kinda like a stock of celery). I'd put it a notch above hickory in it's ability to take impact.

If you want to read more about Chinese Waxwood, go to: http://coldsteel.com
-go to the 'Specialty Item' section, then go to the section on 'Chinese White Waxwood Staffs', there you can read a review on it.

Regards,

Last edited by Brian Vickery : 02-21-2002 at 12:12 PM.

Brian Vickery

"The highest level of technique to achieve is that of having NO technique!"
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Old 02-21-2002, 12:05 PM   #8
thomson
 
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Dojo: Sarpy Aikido Club
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Thumbs down Great Info

Thanks all for the info so far. I'm learning a lot! I was also wondering about your experiences with composite weapons.
Kingfisher Woodworks ( http://www.kingfisherwoodworks.com/materials.shtml ) has a composite bokken they claim has shattered a live blade. Thanks all!


Mike

To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself. - Sun Tzu
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Old 02-21-2002, 12:07 PM   #9
akiy
 
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Re: Re: Favorite woods

Quote:
Originally posted by Brian Vickery
But weapons used during kumi-tachi/kumi-jo I go with Chinese waxwood. Solid, heavy, does not fracture when it finally does break, but instead it splits and stays in one piece due to its fiberous interior (kinda like a stock of cerlery).
I seem to remember that Chinese waxwood is kind of "knobby" (for a lack of a better word) -- am I remembering correctly? It could be tough with waxwood to let your hands slide along the length of the weapon like one might do for a "proper" honteuchi with a jo.

A friend of mine who has done jodo in Japan has said that his hickory jo has lasted him, I believe, over ten years of jodo.

-- Jun

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Old 02-21-2002, 12:22 PM   #10
Brian Vickery
Dojo: Aiki-Buken Aikido
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Re: Re: Re: Favorite woods

Quote:
Originally posted by akiy

I seem to remember that Chinese waxwood is kind of ?knobby? (for a lack of a better word) -- am I remembering correctly? It could be tough with waxwood to let your hands slide along the length of the weapon like one might do for a ?proper? honteuchi with a jo.
-- Jun
Yes, it can be 'knobby', but that can vary greatly! Some pieces of waxwood are very knobby, making much more suitable for use as a bokken/bokuto, others are very smooth, with very little taper, making perfect for jo use.

Their is a drawback, you CANNOT shape a waxwood bokken to look like a sword! You just cut it to length and use it in the shape that it is! But it's a acceptable trade off for the increase in strength and safety .

Regards,

Brian Vickery

"The highest level of technique to achieve is that of having NO technique!"
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Old 02-21-2002, 12:25 PM   #11
akiy
 
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Hi Brian,

Interesting information! I've only used Chinese waxwood in its "bokken" incarnation during a shinkendo seminar. They are pretty darned resilient wood! I may have to investigate a waxwood jo sometime in the future...

-- Jun

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Old 02-21-2002, 08:40 PM   #12
ndiegel
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I've heard somewhere that Hickory wood is very good for weapon use...but then again, I have no personal experience with it.

Noah

"Expect Nothing, Be Ready For Anything"
-Samurai Battle Chant
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Old 08-26-2005, 08:44 PM   #13
xuzen
 
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Re: Favorite woods

Dear fellow budo enthusiasts,

This looks like a good thread to post my question.

I have recently the privilege to learn some Muso Shinto Ryu Jo-do syllabus. It seems like it is love at first sight. It is nothing like the aiki-jo that I know.

I understand, reading from various sources, that the red or white oak makes the best jo. However, in my training we use treated furniture grade rattan as our jo. I did a brief price survey, a jo of mediocre quality from a martial art supplier here cost approximately USD 20 -25/pc whereas, rattan being indigenous and grow wild in my country; I can purchase two dozens of them with the same amount of money.

My question being; Is rattan s good jo material?

Description of Rattan = http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rattan

Picture of rattan = http://www.reflectionsofasia.com/_bo...s%20rattan.JPG

Your opinion is greatly appreciated.

Boon.

SHOMEN-ATE (TM), the solution to 90% of aikido and life's problems.
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Old 08-29-2005, 07:58 AM   #14
linvincible
Join Date: Aug 2005
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Re: Favorite woods

Kim Taylor (from SDK supplies) wrote a very interesting article where rattan is mentioned
http://ejmas.com/pt/ptart_taylorcol_0603.html

Personally I've been disappointed with oak, but that's only due to the way it's prepared nowadays
"normally" the wood would have to stay in water for a few weeks (months is even better...) for the resin to go away
then only the wood can be dried
what happens now is that the wood goes after the cut straight into ovens...
not the same thing...

If you can find wood prepared the "old way" then it's worth a try!

I like macassar ebony (south Asia) because it's heavy, rigid, and can be really nicely polished
it has a powerful feel the oak doesn't.

From what I've read here and there, I'd really like to try Lignum Vitae and hickory to compare with those I already know
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Old 10-12-2005, 04:17 PM   #15
seank
Location: Victoria
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Re: Favorite woods

Quote:
Charles de Clarens wrote:
it's prepared nowadays
"normally" the wood would have to stay in water for a few weeks (months is even better...)

If you can find wood prepared the "old way" then it's worth a try!
Hi Charles,
This must depend very much on your supplier. We can source oak and ash locally that have been prepared in this way very readily.

The only part of the process that may be different is the timber is kept wept by a sprinkler-type system over the 3-6 months before it is kiln-dried.

Cheers,
Sean.
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Old 10-12-2005, 06:13 PM   #16
Julian Straub
Dojo: Aikido Yoshinkai Canada
Location: Toronto
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Re: Favorite woods

I am currently in the process of building both a suburito and a bokuto out of bubinga, which is a type of African cherry wood. My wood source guy recommended it to me, and I am happy so far with it. It has a tight, fairly straight grain, which is what you want for wooden weapons. It works really well, and it which is good for those like me who predominantly use hand tools. The drawback is that bubinga is fairly heavy for some weaker wrists and forearms, when compared to other species.

Other than bubinga, I'd have to concur with the above opinions that Japanese white oak and hickory are good functional pieces.

Julian Straub
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Old 10-12-2005, 07:19 PM   #17
Ellis Amdur
Location: Seattle
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Re: Favorite woods

Bubinga is beautiful and very hard - but very brittle. I have not found it safe for impact.
Lignum Vitae is now endangered - very hard to ethically acquired. It has a beautiful smell, and olive look - very hard and very heavy.
Similar to Lignum Vitae is vera wood. Greenish color that darkens. Very very hard and flexible. I had a six foot bo that flexed four inches or more with a strong swing, which was very different from kashi that doesn't flex much at all. Thus dangerous with close strikes. Vera has a resin that some (myself among them) is somewhat unpleasant - I'm allergic to it.
Greenheart is a wonderful wood - except the dust is toxic - very much so - which requires special care in working it.
Ipe is quite good - has a heavier (duller) feel than kashi. You need to frequently oil it, as it dries out and then develops hairline cracks. Quite durable and strong.
Osage Orange can make quite wonderful weapons - strong and flexible
Wenga (an African choclate colored wood is hard, but it breaks in dangerous dagger-like splinters).
Macassar ebony is great (and greatly expensive) - to my knowledge, all other ebony species are quite hard but very brittle - no good for impact.

Best

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Old 10-12-2005, 07:56 PM   #18
Lorien Lowe
Dojo: Northcoast Aikido
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Re: Favorite woods

Ellis, have you ever trained with or owned any osage orange weapons? I've heard a lot about this wood, but never seen it.

A sempai has a beautiful maple bo he made for himself that I've seen flex better than a foot during practice (we were doing jo-type stuff - the bo was fine, but it made him nervous enough to put it back on the wall and pick out a jo instead).

-L
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Old 10-12-2005, 10:22 PM   #19
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Favorite woods

I've trained with one osage orange. It was quite slender and broke during practice rather quickly. However, I've no way of knowing if this piece was weak - I've heard some really good reports about the wood, better than the performance of the single example I had.

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Old 10-12-2005, 10:32 PM   #20
Lan Powers
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Re: Favorite woods

Cocobolo is very heavy, dense, and polishes sweet too.
I made a jo out of this stuff for my Sensei & it seems to hold up well . (so far)
Cocobolo is a type of rosewood as well, and has a rich color. Do you know of any drawbacks to this other than being so heavy?
BTW it turns on a woodlathe easier than hickory.
Thanks Lan

Play nice, practice hard, but remember, this is a MARTIAL art!
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Old 10-13-2005, 08:12 PM   #21
JMing
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Re: Favorite woods

I have a waxwood staff imported from china, and it is a very good wood. However, with extensive use they become flexible, which they are suppose too. I don't know if people would like a flexible staff over a more rigid one. Don't get me wrong, waxwood is rigid to some degree, but not as rigid of those of oak or other hardwoods. Those I have to admit, it makes the impacts less harsh on the hands.
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Old 10-14-2005, 04:04 PM   #22
Ellis Amdur
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Re: Favorite woods

Cocobolo is another one of those wonderfully hard and heavy tropical hardwoods that shatter with impact because they are not very flexible. Simlar to ebony, rosewood, and bubinga.

By reputation, a really great wood is Ironbark Eucalyptus. It is not very attractive, but it grows in an area with frequent brushfires. The bark has evolved to being fire-resistant, and the wood is often naturally fireharded.

Some of the other eucalyptus are quite hard, but only Australian grown. Eucalyptus is infested with a wood borer. The tree defends itself by growing slowly with a very tight grain. Eucalyptus was transplanted to California and elsewhere in hopes of establishing a fast growing hardwood for railroad ties, etc. Without the wood borer, the tree grows even more rapidly, with an open grain. Not nearly as hard nor shock resistent.

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Old 12-07-2009, 08:14 PM   #23
Jose Roel
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Re: Favorite woods

I have a brazilian blackheart bokken. The apperance is very similar to the Swartzia spp.(Katalox,Izjerhart or Wamara,sorry really don't know much about wood). It's hard and heavy, dents my Sunuke bokken easily so I use the blackheart in solo practice these days.

Last edited by Jose Roel : 12-07-2009 at 08:22 PM.
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Old 12-07-2009, 08:29 PM   #24
Mark Mueller
Location: Louisville Kentucky
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Re: Favorite woods

Geez...buy american. The hickory stuff that Kingfisher puts out is hard to beat for day to day practice.......tough, doesn't shatter, nice to look at.
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Old 12-08-2009, 06:31 AM   #25
Mark Mueller
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Re: Favorite woods

Quote:
Mark Mueller wrote: View Post
Geez...buy american. The hickory stuff that Kingfisher puts out is hard to beat for day to day practice.......tough, doesn't shatter, nice to look at.
Oops! That sounds a little xenophobic....I meant buy american hickory (shouldn't have had that last tequila )
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