The sword is something to cut with. The spear is someting to thrust with.
Shissai Chozanshi
Tengu Geijutsuron
The spears Print E-mail
Written by Jürgen Seebeck   

For this reason it is recommended to utilize a workbench like the one shown to the right which the author constructed for the sole purpose of building spears if you have to work alone or prefer to do so. On this workbench the bar that will become a spear is held by two loops which are tightend by stepping on a pedal. This fixes the spear securely. Pins which can be set in various holes along the workbench guarantee for lateral stability or can act as a stop for the tip while working on it. As you use one foot to fix the spear you have two hands free for planing which is done exactly as described above with one exception. As the spear is longer than the workbench you have to slide it forward and backward during the process. My experience is that working with a workbench one person can build two spears in the same time two persons need to produce just one working the way first described.

During planing you should adjust the plane from time to time so the chips become finer and finer as the work goes on. In addition to this you should control frequently if the spear is actually tapering evenly and mainting its round cross section. Finally you adjust the sakigawa (the same front cap that is used for kendô shinai) to the tip of the spear or better the tip to the sakigawa. If necessary you then can smooth the surface of the spear with sandpaper or blades. The use of a chinese tool called pingflot carrying eight vertical blades in a row has proved very helpful.

If you want you can round the edge of the butt end a little. Then the only thing left to do is to mount the sakigawa to the shaft and you are done. At least in the case of a suyari.

If you are building a kamayari you still have to make the cross-bar and to insert it into the spear shaft.

The best material for this cross-bar (the sickles) is bamboo. It is hard, flexible and durable at the same time. I am talking about bamboo like it is used for kendô shinai. Actually the author uses the lower parts of broken shinai for the kama (sickle) because at this point the bamboo slat is wide and strong enough. Prior to cutting the slat to its final length you flatten it on its inner side again using a plane. You do this in a way that the cross-bar tapers slightly from one end to the other. This makes for a tight fit in the shaft without using wedges or glue. A thickness of approximately 6-8 mm is sufficient for a cross-bar made from bamboo. Now you plane down the sides of the cross-bar until you end up with a rectangular cross section. Finally you cut it down to a length of 16 cm.

How you open the hole in the shaft of the kamayari is completely up to you. You can chisel it out or use a drill and rasps. What is important is that the hole has to be right-angled to the annual rings of the wood. Otherwise the cross-bar would split open the shaft at once if under stress. Finally the measurements of the hole should correspond to those of the cross-bar to ensure a tight fit.

Spear making Videos

These videos are in German only, sorry.