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.
The mekugi are shaped, sized, and as shown here getting the ends sealed.
A limited amount of hand sanding is done.
The color change can be seen in this before and after picture.
Air drying of recently soaked batch.
Hand oiling/rub down in our own clove based oil and again air dried.
Ready for a sword.