I offer new tsukamaki for production katana, wakizashi and tanto, as well as iaito. I have also wrapped many other items including lightsaber hilts, knives, European style sword grips and fantasy style sword handles. You can choose from the different styles below but keep in mind not all styles work well with all ito types or tsuka/handle shapes and fittings. Please contact me and I’ll be happy to discuss the possibilities.
Please continue reading about the process of ordering custom work.
Hineri-maki This is the style most commonly used on production katana and features diamond shape openings from end to end on both sides. the ito is folded as it crosses over and these crossings alternate as they go on. It is a classic and comfortable configuration and is very durable as well. This style can be done in silk, cotton, leather, suede, Tsunami and nubuck ito.
Tsumami-maki This style is essentially a fancier version of hineri-maki and is more common in Japan than the US. It differs from hineri-maki in that both strands of the ito are pinched instead of folded at the crossovers. The pinched ito tends to sit a little bit higher than the folded ito and has a slightly different feel. This style can be done in silk, cotton, suede and nubuck ito.
Katahineri-maki This style is a mix of hineri-maki and tsumami-maki. it features the top strand of ito pinched at the crossovers and the bottom one folded. This style can be done in silk, cotton, suede and nubuck ito.
Katate-maki This style, also known as “battle wrap”, features one of the styles above at the beginning and end of the wrap and a portion in the middle of the tsuka wrapped in a flat spiral style. The menuki are often positioned within these flat areas. Katate-maki style can sometimes interfere with the second mekugi-ana, if your tsuka has one. I have been able to work around this in some of the cases but it depends on the positioning and other factors, contact me to discuss details. the type of ito that can be used for katate-maki depends on the style of the folded portion (see above)
Shonai-zuka This style is known as “high ranking samurai” and is a complex form of katate-maki. Instead of a flat center portion, the ito is rolled like a tube and exposes the samegawa between stands. This style requires samegawa panels wide enough to accommodate the openings so the wood core doesn’t show. This style can be done with silk or cotton ito.
Akechi katate-maki This style is rare and features a single strand spiral wrap going from the beginning all the way to the end knots. This style requires the tsuka core to have a full samegawa wrap because the spaces between the ito are visible all around the circumference. This style can be done with silk, cotton, leather, suede, Tsunami or nubuck ito.
Gangi-maki The most rare style found outside of Japan, it features wide, flat leather ito wrapped in a way that creates ridges as it overlaps the previous strand. Because it’s very difficult to get this type of ito, I can rarely offer it.
Samegawa (stingray skin)
The samegawa that comes on most production tsuka are low quality, narrow, dirty and are sometimes even in patched together pieces. I offer an optional upgrade to better quality samwegawa in a variety of choices. Because the panels that come on many production tsuka are so narrow, it requires an incorrect wrap to hide it from view so when the new tsukamaki is properly redone but without upgrading, you will likely see wood exposed in the corners of the diamonds. This doesn’t have a negative effect functionally but it can be an eyesore.
All upgraded panel sets include widening and or adjusting of existing carved channels to ensure they will look nice and fit appropriately under your new tsukamaki and you can also choose to have them finished in either a natural polish (tinted or white) or black lacquer (gloss or satin), for no additional cost. Custom dyeing is also available. Please understand that this is a natural product and examples will vary. I only use the finest quality skins available to me.
Premium Panels Premium samegawa panels are my standard offering and features medium size nodes that are consistently even, attractive and clean. Premium panels do not come with an “emperor’s node”.
Top level panels This set is very similar to the Premium samegawa panels except they feature an oyatsubo or “emperor’s node” on one of the pair. This larger node will be placed near the kashira’s end knot on the omote side, which is a traditional location. Shape, size, coloring and positioning of surrounding nodes will vary as these are a natural product.
Full Wrap On a healthy and properly carved tsuka core, a full wrap of samegawa can help provide extra strength and protection as well as look more impressive aesthetically. I adjust the girth and profile of the tsuka core to allow for the extra thickness of the skin and this ensures the tsukamaki will flow well with your fittings. A full wrap results in a seam where the two ends meet and this can either be placed traditionally in the center of the ura side or it can be hidden on the edge, under the ito. The emperor’s node is typically placed near the kashira end knot on the omote side.
This option is not recommended for many production tsuka since in order to apply it properly, material must first be removed from the wood core and because of the poor quality of the wood typically used and or the poor quality of construction of the core, removing material to accommodate the new samegawa can potentially weaken the structural integrity of the core. This would be counterproductive to the original intent of trying to strengthen it. If you like the look of the larger “emperor’s node” typically associated with a full wrap but don’t want to sacrifice the strength of your tsuka, maybe the Top level panels listed above would be a better choice.
Silk Silk ito is the most common choice for wrapping a tsuka because it is very strong and long lasting, comes in many colors and is comfortable to grip. I can use silk ito for any tsukamaki style listed above except gangi-maki.
Current colors available in silk are: black, dark blue, blue, grey blue, dk green, green, red, dk brown, brown, purple, gold, ivory, white. Availability is subject to change depending on the suppliers.
Silk ito sizes: 10mm, 8mm, 6mm, 4mm (not all sizes are available in all colors)
Leather Leather ito is another popular choice and is known for it’s strength and comfortable grip. Leather ito can only be used for some tsukamaki styles, see above.
Current colors available in leather are: black, brown(chocolate) and comes in a satin finish.
Leather ito sizes: 8mm
Nubuck Nubuck ito is similar to leather but it has a softer and smoother surface. Nubuck ito is available in three categories, top level, premium and standard. Top level and premium quality nubuck ito is becoming more difficult to import so I won’t always have access to it. I can dye some nubuck ito in different colors for additional fee.
Current colors available in top level nubuck are: (as available from source)
Premium nubuck colors are: black, dk brown, light brown
Standard nubuck colors are: black, brown, beige(can be dyed in choice of colors)
Nubuck ito sizes: 8mm
Suede Suede ito is similar to leather and nubuck but has a fuzzier nap. Suede ito tends to vary slightly in width, thickness and nap within a full length and is a bit bulkier overall than leather and nubuck ito. I can dye some suede ito in different colors for additional fee.
Current colors available in suede are: black, brown, beige(can be dyed in choice of colors)
Suede ito sizes: 8mm
Tsunami Tsunami ito is a faux suede ito made and sold by Fred Lohman Co and is known for being strong, stretch resistant and comfortable to grip. Tsunami ito comes in many colors and in 8mm width. Since Fred has retired, access to this ito has been limited.
Current colors available in Tsunami are: coal black, coral, brown, cranberry red, ivy green, navy blue
Tsunami ito sizes: 8mm
Cotton Cotton ito is comfortable and fairly durable and comes in assorted colors.
Current colors available in cotton are: black, dk brown, brown, light brown(military), green, navy blue, steel blue, purple, white
Cotton ito sizes: 10mm, 8mm(black only), 6mm(black only)
I can make new mekugi for your tsuka but only if I have the sword here, I can’t ensure a proper fit if the nakago isn’t seated in the tsuka when I’m making it. New mekugi can be made of either cured bamboo or black Delrin.