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How to Make a Katana Scabbard

Jennifer Ryan

The katana is a Japanese sword that dates to the 8th century. In the time of the samurai, if a non-samurai was caught with a katana he was killed on the spot. The katana boasts a slight bend. It is carried in a saya, or scabbard. It is usually attached at the waist, making the sword more easily accessible.

The katana is worn at the waist for accessibility.

If you own a katana and want to make a scabbard to hold it, you can do so in a series of straightforward steps.

  1. Split the plank of wood in half using a band saw.

  2. Sand all of the plank's edges.

  3. Lay the wood with the longest width lying flat on your work bench. Place the blade of your katana on the piece of wood and trace a rectangle around the edges of the blade. Continue the longest lines so that they’re about two inches below the tip of the blade.

  4. Cut along your traced lines with the band saw.

  5. Draw a line perpendicular to the top part of the blade, not the point of the sword. You’re going to cut the wood in half along this line with the band saw.

  6. Trace around the blade using a pencil. Retrace again, but this time use an exacto knife. Once you have this outline you’ll use a flattened chisel to clear out an area where the blade will fit. Measure the thickness of your sword to determine how deep you’ll need to go. Make sure you do this step for both pieces of wood that you separated in Step 5.

  7. Test the thickness of your scabbard. Clamp the two pieces together with the blade inside. The sword shouldn’t rattle.

  8. Line the perimeter of the inside part of the scabbard with wood glue. Place the two pieces together and clamp them together until the glue dries.

  9. Repeat steps 6 and 7 for the tang, or handle part of the blade.

  10. Trim the bottom of the tang retainer with the top of the scabbard so they align perfectly. Use a hand plane or a hand grinder.

  11. Drill a hole into the wood where the tang lies. The blade already has a hole, so if you’re more comfortable, use a pencil to mark where the circle is and remove the blade when you drill. Do this for both sides of the planks.

  12. Repeat Step 9 for the tang.

  13. Fabricate the holding pin. Shave a thin piece of wood until it’s the same size as the hole you drilled in step 11. The holding pin should fit snuggly in that hole.

  14. Use a hand plane to sand the outside of the wood. Once sanded, you’ll want to wax with a furniture wax.