Mekugi – Katana Care and Maintenance
Katana has three Mekugi or simply known as pegs. These are usually made of bamboo pins. Extra pegs can be a good way to strengthen the sword handle. Secure the tsuka to the Nakago. Swords use in martial arts it is not advisable to use hardwood or buffalo horn Mekugi. Tapered shape pegs must only be removed in one direction. The small ends of the Katana Mekugi are hidden under the tsuka ito or handle wrap. This peg is held in place with the use of a blade stopper. A special tool like this that can remove this is referred to as Mekugi-Nuki. Craftsman used removal tool which is made of brass and resembles a hammer that has a punch. The hammer can unscrew these pegs. Wooden mallets can also be used for the same purpose. Hanwei Katana Mekugi is used for those who wish to customize their sword. This is a bamboo peg. However, Mekugi-Ana is rare and can be found only on Koto tanto. Suffice to say that the main role of this peg is that it holds the sword together. This acts as the shock absorber of the sword.
Bamboo is a good choice because it is flexible enough to absorb pressure while the sword is use for striking. It is a must to use a better grade bamboo. Even if bamboo cost cheap, the process of making the Mekugi is labor intensive. Finishing is accomplished with the use of fine shaving with a single edged razor blade. Some favor the use of brass however once repeated force is applied on the Nakago this causes an indentation in the pin. This makes it rather difficult for the craftsman to remove the tsuka without damaging it. Bamboo is flexible, softer and easier to replace. Mosaic bolster pins will spruce up the blade.
Katana Mekugi Maintenance Tips
Always check the Mekugi before practicing swordsmanship even if this is a solo act martial arts practice. Replace any peg that is thin, weak or broken. Failing to do this safety check can lead to disaster. Some accidents can be avoided like seeing the blade thrown from its handle and seeing the peg slip from its housing. This explains why practitioners of Toyama Ryu and Nakamura Ryu can use two retaining pins. The primary Katana Mekugi must use a bamboo. Insert this on the right side of the handle. The reserved peg must be made of iron or steel and inserted on the left side. Bamboo is used as primary peg because the fibers are resilient enough to prevent the blade from being thrown off the room. The use of these materials is simply explained this way; bamboo mekugi acts like the tsuka while the metal peg acts like nakago since it is wood to wood and metal to metal. These pegs were formed bigger than the Mekugi-Ana. Some used the smoked bamboo since it is made of good quality bamboo than the standard one. However, not all craftsmen agree with this. When the peg needs replacing the owner will hear a creaking sound.