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Making a brass bolster tsuba

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Wander Vanhoucke

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Hey, wanted to share the making of this bolster piece for a recent gyuto. It was inspired by Ford Hallam's series on making a copper tsuba.

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I will not show the making of the slot, there is enough material on that.
So, I started with a piece of brass the same shape as the front of my handle.

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I then filed it so there was a little step between the handle and the brass. This is called an heirloom or museum fit. The reasoning behind this step being that if the wood shrinks or expands there will be no unevenness.
People seem to either love it or hate it:p I think it looks quite classy.

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I then round out the octagon by filing away the corners. Then filing the new corners again. That'll get you pretty close to round

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next is giving the piece a slight dome, I did this with a small polished hammer, making sure to not hit the area where the shoulders of the knife rest. If that area would get deformed the knife would not sit flat against it.
you can see the spacer bellowed out a bit from the hammering, we will fix that when we upset the rim.

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The brass was still looking quite plain so I gave it some texture with an old rusty hammer. The pocked face leaving what the Japanese call "skin"

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The next layer of skin was made with this little template and the tip of a kiridashi to make the lines, moving the template a little each time. What could it mean? I don't know. To me, it looks like a bowl of noodle soup🤪

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Et voila! after upsetting the rim and giving patina with a torch it looks like this. Here's a video of it shimmering in the light: New video by Wander Vanhoucke
It's a really cool effect.

Bye bye and thanks for reading,
Wander
 

birdsfan

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Very cool texturing, love it! Did you do anything special on the handle side of the bolster to help it adhere more to the wood or just use epoxy?
 

Wander Vanhoucke

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Very cool texturing, love it! Did you do anything special on the handle side of the bolster to help it adhere more to the wood or just use epoxy?
No just roughed it up good and epoxy. The slot is square and it took a hammer to press fit the spacer. I'm confident it will not move.
 

LUWerner

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I'm of the personal opinion that all handles look better with a bolster.
Well done!
 
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