retro fitting shirasaya sword?

by aaron waltz
(waldoboro ME. USA)

I have a shirasaya sword i would like to retrofit to traditional katana components with a universal handle with no holes in it. I know what I need to get but the handles I've seen have no holes so you can drill holes to match the original holes in the tang. How do i get that correct other than weaken the tang drilling completely new holes in the tang vs trying to get the originals lined up seems to be tricky so it isn't sloppy cause there drilled in wrong spot.?

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Not really an issue..
by: Paul

Hi Aaron,

You are right, all the commercially available pre-fabricated tsuka/handle on the market do not come with holes simply because it is almost impossible to line them up with existing ones in a Shirasaya. But drilling an extra hole or two will not weaken the tang - I have seen swords in Japanese museums whose tangs look like swiss cheese from multiple holes caused by different remounts in the swords long history.

It is not as easy as some sellers of the components will have you believe. You need to be super careful to not drill through the ito wrap, causing the whole thing to unravel. The way to do this is to use some kind of temporary marker on the side of the handle facing you when you clamp it in a drill press.

You may also need to file the sides of the tang to get the tsuka to go all the way in properly. It is not a task for the faint hearted, but very rewarding when you can achieve it.

Best of luck!

- Paul

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