Stick Tang Techniques

The tang Nakago of a katana made sometime befo...

The tang of a Katana. Not the sword is upside-down, so the “bottom part of the tang” is actually the top in this photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Antique Japanese o-tanto blade showin...

English: Antique Japanese o-tanto blade showing the tang nakago, peg hole mekugi-ana and a signature mei. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve written down in several posts how I do the full tang techniques on attaching the handle and the tang. A tang, as you may or may not know, is the part that extends beyond the blade into the handle. A full tang is basically a two-dimensional metal version of the handle, on which the two wood halves of the handle are fitted on, with epoxy and pins.

A stick tang is where the tang is just a small, well, stick, extending into the handle, thicker where it attaches the blade, and thinning out as it goes further down into the handle. This allows for more extensive woodworking.

How it is made is a hole, about the thickness and width of the bottom of the tang, is drilled into the center of a block of wood (the handle material), along it’s length, about as far in as the tang itself would extend. Many smiths like to use the drill and get the whole hole big enough for the tang, but I, who am not experienced enough to trust myself, just make the hole as large as the very bottom of the tang.

The next step is a very interesting, genius, and redneck way of doing things. The tang is heated red-hot, then just slid into the hole. The heat burns the immediate wood out of the way, yet there is not enough oxygen for the whole thing to go up in flames. The metal burns away only the wood immediately blocking the metal, and so the hole then created is a perfect fit.

The ashes are then cleaned off the tang, and the tang is inserted back into the wood, where it is drilled, pins inserted, and epoxied. The smith continues on to the next steps, and finishes up the handle and blade.


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