In an unexpected continuation from a previous post here, I decided to take a 2nd shot at making fukuro shinai. My previous attempt was very informative, and was more of a practice run using materials I had stashed for future projects. This time around, 2 bamboo poles are used in an attempt to make real sturdy fukuro shinai.
First task was to cut the bamboo poles to the appropriate lengths. I used one of my longer bokken as a guide for this. Following this was a bit of sanding. Next was to split the bamboo poles several times from the top down to where the tsuka (sword handle) would be. I used a few methods, including one my wife showed me she grew up with when she was living in Japan. This involves using a knife with a strong & durable handle, place the knife edge at the top of the bamboo, and striking the knife’s handle with a hammer. If done right, on can cut down along the bamboo very quickly with just a few solid strikes. This can be done with a razor/box cutter as well. Just as a word of caution, I don’t advice using a knife or razor with a metallic handle, or one that is not designed for work entailing heavy labor.
I found it easier to use one of the bamboo’s joints as a marker to where to stop, as long as it was close to the tsuka. I did so because since the joints tend to be thicker, they won’t further break and split due to impact. Of course, since each bamboo are slightly different from each other, this varies how far down each one would be split. The variation isn’t too vast, fortunately.
The slivers of bamboo were then taped at 3 points. Then a padded wrap to serve as a “fukuro” was devised and wrapped around the slivers. A strap was also attached to the fukuro to serve as a tsuka wrap, if needed.
And voilá! 2 fukuro shinai are made and ready for use. While I followed the Shinkage ryu method of making a fukuro shinai (otherwise called a “hikihada shinai”), I did not add the red lacquer, so these look more like Yagyu Shinkage ryu versions (being the color white, that is). I didn’t pre-tie the strap to work as tsuka ito (cotton threads used to wrap a sword handle) like the way most fukuro shinai are designed, for I prefer a wrapless tsuka. However, that may change in future.