How to fix a loose tsuba

It's not that hard to fix a loose tsuba - though it depends on which way the tsuba feels loose.

A simple solution involves adding an extra 'seppa' (spacer) if the tsuba is loose vertically (i.e. moves up and down, from the tip of the blade towards the bottom of the handle). Another easy way to fix a vertical movement of the tsuba is to get some dental floss and wind it around the gap - it is invisible and does the job, if not very high tech!

If the movement in the tsuba is left to right though, it means that there is a gap between the tang and the hole in the tsuba where the tang goes through. You can fix this by inserting a small piece of folded carboard/paper - but here's a more permanent solution by Marc Ridgeway to fix this slightly more complicated but relatively common problem.

How to fix lateral (side to side) tsuba play

Instructions by Marc Ridgeway

After solving some lateral tsuba movement I had on a custom katana, and a mid-level production sword , I realized there might be a need for a how-to thread, so I did it one more time today using my Masahiro Bamboo, and took pictures of the process.

First, let me caveat this please.... I AM NOT a metalsmith, i am not a craftsman, I have NO special skills, or NO special tools. The way I do this is VERY jerry-rigged, and uses items found around the house ... you should probably take more safety precautions than I did, and it would help to have purpose built tools... that said (hopefully it will quiet the caution nuts out there) ... IF I CAN DO IT , ANYONE CAN DO IT.

Lets begin by looking at materials we may need.

Materials Needed:

  • Torch
  • Striker (I used claw hammer)
  • Striking surface (I used pipe wrench)
  • Pliers
  • Wirecutters
  • scissors
  • Copper tubing
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Safety Equipment


Its pretty simple to do. Start out with your copper tubing, and your wire cutters.

Using the wire cutters clip open the tubing and cut off a small piece, it will be jagged, don't worry about it.

Now, holding the piece with the pliers (or the wire cutters) heat up your copper with the torch to make it malleable, and then strike it on your surface using your striker. The goal is to thin it out and make a veneer out of it.

Now, Lay the strip across the mune of your sword, where the tsuba fits, shape it to the mune (back of the blade), and then insert it into the tsuba.

Now place the tsuba on the nakago, and the seppa and tsuka back on as well. Grasping the blade with a towel and a leather glove, use the heel of your hand on the kashira to tap the tsuba and tsuka into place. Use the rubber mallet if necessary (it will be) to seat the whole assembly, and replace the mekugi....

Congratulations.... You've just cured your tsuba's lateral movement.... now go cut some sh*t up !!!

I hope these tips and this tutorial on how to fix a loose tsuba has been helpful. To return to Navigating The Sword Care Maze from How to fix a loose tsuba, click here

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