How to rewarp the tsuka (handle) of a Katana


A little while ago, i took the time to shoot some detailed shots of a rewarpping project. I think the pics and anonations are speaking for themselves 🙂

Little disclaimer, i have no formal education in what form whatsoever regarding to the art of tsukamaki so a real pro will probably shoot me for this job. I’m just a bit of a handy harry and hope it can help you out a bit if you want to give it a try yourself…

Our victim

Undressed. The tsuka core is in good condition, no cracks and solid construction…

Quality of rayskin not that bad, just a pitty they’ve place the nice nod that high on the tsuka. Here you can see a typical example of ‘Chinese’ hishigami..very thin pieces of paper that really doesn’t make a difference at all when wrapping.

Ready to get a new color


Measuring the width of the ito when pulled thight

Marking our tsuka core in order to know if we need to shorten it yes/no and in order to make a nice even wrap where the ito forms nice horizontal lines.

Folding a piece of paper to fix our hishigami. In this case i made the width of them 13mm (since the ito, when pulled thight measured around 14mm). I started to fold the paper around 9mm and folded it for 5-6 times. Making it too thick will give us problems when we need to fold over the sides (next pic).

Making them too thick in step 1 will give you problems here 🙂 

This is the part that need to go..

Marking the line

The Dremel tool is my best friend 🙂

Taking the rayskin off

Finished the whole contour, it just need to be shortened now

Done and ready to start wrapping


Placing the hishigami

Already a diamond further here but you can see here how to fold the ito while keeping the hishigami in place

Complete diamond, as you can see (or not) still need to pinch the hishigami a bit more  inside/underneath the ito

With the template you can exactely see/measure where to position your menuki

Keep it in position with a bit of tape

Almost there to cover it 🙂

Make sure the hishigami are in place and you pull the ito as tight as you can (as always) or the menuki (and wrap) will start moving around and ultimately become loose

Second diamond, make sure your menuki are placed correctly but if you used the template it can’t be a problem

And done….in the middle of the tsuka and evenly positioned underneath the diamonds

Continue wrapping

Keep going…

Make sure the ito is lined up correctly, that’s why the marks on the tsuka are very helpful:) 

Taking the template once more for the placement of the second menuki

A bit of tape to keep the menuki in place

Last diamond before including the menuki

First diamond.. keep it tight !  

Ready to continue

Second diamond

Mission completed and getting close to the end knots

There are diffrent ways to make the end knots, this is mine 🙂 Taking a piece of plastic to laminate paper and cut out our ‘helping hands’. Some are using a straw but i personally feel they’re to thick to work with.

I’ve cut 6 pieces of them (width around 5-6mm )

No matter which side you’re working on, there are always 2 pieces of ito that need to go up and 1 pulled down. Make sure your plastic stripes are placed corectly… Use some tape to hold them in position

And keep going with the folding of the diamonds. Side note… i’ve placed them 1 diamond too early on this shot 🙂


Other side, same story, hold them in place with some tape, 2 go up , 1 down

Done and ready to start with the end knot

Take the tape off and position them next to eachother

First piece of ito (started from the right side of the tsuka)  is placed in the plastic stripe (left one) and pulled under the diamond. Move the ito to the far left..

Take the ito on the left side of the tsuka now and pull it underneath the piece that was coming from the right side and under the diamond

This is a better view i think….

Take that same piece (left side of tsuka) and pull it over the diamond and UNDER the piece of ito that is coming from the right side of the tsuka

Taking back the other piece of ito (right side), making a loop  and pull it back under the diamond on the right side of the knot

An overview : the ito that is coming from the left side of the tsuka is ok, the one coming from the right side is making a loop and still need to be pulled tight

Once the 2 pieces of ito are in position, it’s time to take your 2 strings of ito and pull them through the kashira. Use a plastic stripe to make your life more easy …


Place the kashira on the tsuka and pull the 2 pieces of  ito tight before starting to work on the real end knot on the other side 🙂 

Our 3 plastic stripes

I just used he middle one to pull our first piece of ito underneath the diamond

The second piece of ito is also going underneath the diamond (on the right side)

Cut off the first piece of ito to tuck it underneath the diamond; Make sure you don’t cut it too short or you will ruin your wrapping work 🙂 

Tuck it under the diamond 

Now take your remaining piece and make a loop so pull it once more underneath the diamond (on the left side of the knot)

This is what you should have and the only thing that is left is to pull it tight

Once that is done it’s time for our second cut. Same story here don’t cut it too short ! When done, tuck it underneath the diamond to secure it

And this is the final result…

The end 🙂 

Not really easy to shoot pics while wrapping so maybe some parts are not clear enough. If any questions, just place them here in the comments…will try to answer them as good as possible.