Fixing a Loose Saya

by Jarrod Guerrero
(Mangilao, Guam, U.S.)

QUESTION: Over periods of sheathing and un-sheathing katanas, the saya sometimes become very loose. Like if you were to tip the sword over to where the blade points upwards, the sword would just fall out.

As with a new katana, the sword kind of locks into place in the scabbard or (saya) as I should be saying. Is there a way to prevent an already good saya from becoming loose?

Also, if the saya has already become loose, is there a way to fix or correct this problem? Thank You!

ANSWER: Absolutely! :-)

Just about all production Katana have some issues with the saya. The best ones start out a little too tight, but others start out loose and it kind of comes with the territory if you know what I mean. So much so that just about all Hanwei Katana actually include a leaflet on how to fix the problem!

What you need to do is to 'shim' the saya. There is a basic guide available online here that shows you the ropes, though there are others with more or less detail out there too.

Hope this helps.


- Paul

Comments for Fixing a Loose Saya

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Loose Saya
by: Jarrod Guerrero

Hey Paul! Great answer! Now I can fix my loose fitting saya from my cheap $50 katana. Thank you! :-)

Shimming Saya and thickening loose Seppa
by: Lyle D. Yates

I use an old time method with modern day materials. It is simple and is common masking tape. I cut thin layers to about a 1/2" long and layer them inside the saya until proper retention of the Habaki is achieved. In a pinch, one can also tighten loose tsuba buy adding a piece of masking tape to the back side of each Seppa and then cutting the remaining tape around the Seppa and with a razor blade, cut out the hole. Works great.
Lyle D. Yates
Master Craftsman
Master Instructor

Crazy Glue
by: Bookie

I repaired my saya with just a dab of crazy glue inside the mouth at the bottom. No shim used at all. Just quick and easy.

Thank you for the fix!
by: Avelino

Following the instructions I was able to fix my saya in less than five minutes! Here in the U.S., you can get a roll of birch wood veneer at Lowes that is treated with heat-activated glue. Instead of a screwdriver to heat the veneer, I used a round punch that worked just as well.

Here is the link to Lowes showing the veneer I used, Aisle 51, Bay 17 in most Lowes:

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