BAMBOO MEKUGI

Although small, mekugi play an important role with Japanese swords. Everyone knows that mekugi holds the sword together. However, mekugi should also act as a shock absorber. They must be sturdy while at the same time being flexible enough to absorb increased pressure when the sword is striking an object. Although bamboo chopsticks are often used to serve the primary function of holding the sword together, they have little use beyond that. It’s best to make mekugi from a better grade of bamboo, that meets both requirements in that they are sturdy and flexible. Although bamboo is relatively low in cost, the process of making mekugi is very labor intensive.  Finishing is often accomplished with a little fine shaving with a single edge razor blade to achieve that perfect  fit.  Here are just a few steps in the manufacturing process of making mekugi.

shaping  

The mekugi are shaped, sized, and as shown here getting the ends sealed.

sanding

A limited amount of hand sanding is done.

soaking

Soaking in a tea based mixture gives the mekugi a golden hue and cures the pegs through the introduction of tannin from the tea.
 color

 

The color change can be seen in this before and after picture.

drying

Air drying of recently soaked batch.

oiling

Hand oiling/rub down in our own clove based oil and again air dried.

ready

Ready for a sword.