Maintaining your katana blade is a crucial part of katana ownership. Knowing how to disassemble and reassemble the katana handle is one of the first skills you should learn as a katana owner.
Whether you need to perform maintenance on the handle or change the fuchi (collar), menuki (decorative grip), or other parts for customization, you’ll find that you need to disassemble it first and reassemble it back again.
The process is done through a few steps, which I will show you here. There are some tools that you’ll need in order to disassemble and reassemble the katana Handle:
- A katana maintenance kit with a hammer for katana included. (Get it on AMAZON)
- A wooden block.
- The new katana Handle (You can get a new one from AMAZON).
Although the hammer is not the only way to disassemble the katana, you’ll find that it’s incredibly helpful, as it’s designed for this task especially. There will be a pin included to help you get the mekugi (peg) out.
Disassembly of Katana Handle
The first part of replacing the katana handle is disassembly. Be cautious here, as you’re dealing with a razor-sharp blade that can cut you easily. Here are the steps you need to follow to disassemble the katana Handle.
1. Remove the Mekugi
The mekugi is the peg located in the middle of the handle of katana. This peg holds the blade together permanently. The mekugi is a tapered bamboo pin, which means it can only be removed in one direction.
For this, you’ll need to use the hammer from the katana maintenance kit. There is also a punch included helping you get the peg out.
- Place the punch onto the mekugi. You’ll find the mekugi somewhere in the upper part of the handle (tsuka).
- With the punch in place, start tapping gently onto the punch with the hammer. Make sure you’re hitting from the right direction, as the mekugi is tapered.
- Gently remove the mekugi and place it somewhere safe. Don’t lose it!
2. Remove the Handle
Now you’ve taken the mekugi out, you can remove the tsuka (handle). But the handle is composed of various smaller parts, so you’ll need to be careful here. You’ll find a wooden block handy here if you’re a beginner; if you’ve done this before, you can do it without the block.
There are various methods of getting the handle off. The first one is without a block. Here’s how to do it.
- With the mekugi out, hold the katana in your hand vertically, with the blade facing away from you.
- Start tapping onto your hand that you’re holding the blade with using the other hand. Make a fist and tap.
- Continue tapping until you see that the blade is loose. Be careful so that the edge doesn’t fall out inadvertently! Now you can start removing the handle.
The other method of removing the handle is with a block. Here’s how to do it.
- First, place the katana onto the floor. Make sure the katana is away from your legs in order not to cut yourself.
- Then, place the wooden block onto the blade and right next to the guard (tsuba).
- Next, start tapping onto the wooden block gently with a hammer. Do that until you see that the blade is getting looser.
- Now you’re ready to remove the handle. Don’t hammer onto the guard directly, as you can damage it.
3. Remove the Handle Parts
You’ll see that the handle is composed of several smaller parts. The biggest one is the tsuka, or the handle. There are also two seppas (spacers) and the tsuba (guard).
- First, remove the tsuka (handle). Simply slide it off to reveal the tang (nakago).
- Then, remove the first spacer (seppa) that’s located next to the guard.
- Remove the guard (tsuba).
- Remove the seppa between the guard and the blade.
Now you have the whole tank revealed, and your handle parts on the side. Make sure you don’t lose these parts!
Now you can proceed with the task you want to do. If it’s maintenance, now you can easily clean the blade and the tang. If you’re replacing the handle altogether, make sure you have all the parts ready for reassembly.
You can still use some of the current parts; for example, the seppas will still come useful, while you might opt to replace the tsuba or the tsuka. Or, you just want to make some decorative tweaks to your katana.
Reassembly of Katana Handle
Now comes the reassembly. It’s following the same sequence you used to disassemble the katana handle.
Here are the steps to reassemble a katana Handle.
1. Put the Handle Parts Back in Place
The first thing you’ll want to do is to place the handle parts back into place. Make sure that your mekugi sits nicely with the new handle if you have bought a new one.
- Put the first seppa back into place.
- Put the tsuba (guard) next to the seppa.
- The guard is to be followed by another seppa (spacer).
- Then, move the handle back into place.
2. Hit the Bottom of the Blade to Get Everything Secure
Make sure that everything is secure. For this, you’ll need to hit the bottom of the blade with your hand while holding the sword vertically.
- After putting all the parts back, grasp the blade vertically with one hand.
- With the other hand, start hitting the bottom of your blade. Do this a few times until you’re sure the handle is secure.
3. Insert the Mekugi Back Into Place
The last step of reassembling the katana handle is to put the mekugi (peg) back in place. This peg will hold the handle together while you use it. You’ll need your hammer again for this task. Here’s how to do it.
- Insert the mekugi into the hole of the handle.
- With the mekugi in the correct position, start hitting it with a hammer. Continue hitting until you feel the mekugi is even on both sides.
- Make sure everything sits nice and secure in the handle.
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So now you know how to disassemble and reassemble your katana handle. This process is quite important, as it will allow you to maintain your katana handle or replace the handle when you need to. Hopefully, you found this article helpful.
Need to learn more about Katanas: Check My most popular article about How to Sharpen a Katana Blade?