A modern bladesmith rooted in the old traditions

Ebony Dha

The following description was written by Antonio CJunior and reflects the dialogue between customer and maker:

“The history of the Dha, dha-lwe or daarb, is the history of cultural exchanges with neighboring China and its Dao, and the later influence of Japanese swords. My interest in these swords is divided between their beauty and their usage. In the later case, I am more interested in studying, absorbing and developing sheathed techniques with swords or disarming than in purely staying with one style.

Jesus Hernandez came back with these Auto CAD renderings with accurate measurements of my design for this project.

The tsuka section will be a rectangle with rounded corners measuring 1.5 inches by 0.75-0.85 inches. The radius of the corners will be 0.25-0.3 inches.

-Wrought iron kashira measuring 0.25 inches in length.
-Followed by an ebony section measuring 2 inches.
-Followed by a bubinga section measuring 6.5 inches.
-Followed by another ebony section measuring 2 inches. This part flares at the end to meet the next section.
-A final section of wrought iron of 0.25 inches length that will match in transverse section the dimensions of the saya (2 inches by 0.75-0.85 inches). I will call that a pseudo-tsuba since it functions as a tsuba but is is glued to the tsuka as an integral part of it and not detachable.
Antonio’s comments:
Agreed entirely but would suggest a little bit more of curve on the wood flaring towards the fuchi-tsuba.
Suggest that tsuka is epoxyed to nakago for added strength.

Saya size is perfect for a good grip.

Tsuka looks perfect seen from top.
Clear lacquer should be a hard and resistant one.

As a methodical person and smith, Jesus Hernandez drew the blade straight for his own guidance and sent the photos of the drawing. In fact the dha is a light and fast blade. By adding the wood handle we both had the same concern about the weight of the handle. So JH decided to reduce the weight of the tang (nakago) and lengthen it more to absorb the end part of the ebony handle.

A round bar of 1 1/4 inches diameter W2 steel.

Jesus Hernandez used a hrydraulic press to break down the stock.

The round bar is now a flat bar of much greater length.

Forging of the kissaki area.

Finished rough forging. Note how the nakago follows the blade curvature.

A round 1 inch diameter piece of wrought iron for the fittings.

Finished forging of the wrought iron. Cut off the three pieces that Jesus will be needing later.

Now we see the rough grinding at 80 grit.

Here is the final grinding at 220 grit.

Here is Jesus Hernandez’s own recipe for clay coating.

Right after quenching. Notice the graceful curvature. Sori is a beautiful 3/4 inch tori-zori extended to the nakago.

One more composite picture to compare the before and after yaki-yire. Notice how the blade curved after quenching.”

In the words of Jesus Hernandez:

“This picture shows the bubinga sliced in half length-wise and the channel carved for the nakago. Carving the bubinga felt very much like carving stabilized wood. I like this wood very much and I will work with it in the future.

The two halves pinned together with brass rods. I have not decided yet what I will do for final pins. I may keep the brass pins but hide them from view (since there is no other brass like material to match).

Gluing the bubinga halves in what I call “caterpillar”. There can never be enough wood clamps. Pieces of ebony and copper for habaki.

Gluing the bubinga to the ebony end-cap. Rough shape after gluing and sanding a little.

Detail of the earlier picture. Wrought iron pommel or kashira with two brass pins brazed in for added support.

This is how they will fit with the rest of the tsuka. Rough assembly of some of the handle components.

Two pieces of ebony glued to the bubinga and the ebony piece for the guard has been roughly shaped. One more view of the assembly with the wrought iron kashira shaped as well.

Final shaping of the piece of ebony for the guard.

After polishing the wood to see what the final colors will be like.

Here is the habaki along with the roughly shaped wrought iron kojiri, horn koiguchi and horn pegs to hide the brass pins.

Habaki mounted on the sword.

Two pieces of ebony have been selected and planed. The profile of the blade is marked for carving. I will start carving the channel at the deepest end.

Completing the channel to reach the shallowest end. Trim off the excess wood.

Both ends trimmed and I am getting ready to glue the two halves together. Another caterpillar. Clamps, clamps and more clamps.

The ebony has been roughly shaped into an oval with a sander and rasps. A piece of buffalo horn has been glued at the mouth. The wrought iron cap being epoxied to the ebony and held together with a tension cord.

The wrought iron takes on different colors depending on the ilumination. Same for the kashira in the handle.

Here is the handle with both pieces of wrought iron attached.

The finished blade
and Antonio holding his new sword.”