The knife is done! It changed design a few times through the process and somethings had to be fixed and corrected along the way but it has finally reached it's goal!
I left off the last journal with the blade mostly done and ready to start on the the hilt. First order of business for that is to make the habaki, the copper collar. I used material from an old copper pipe. This process required some light hammering, soldering, and a lot of hand sanding. Next I needed a spacer (seppa), I used the same copper for this as well. I ended up making two all together to achieve a proper fit for the handle.
After all that was done I found some alder wood (I'm pretty sure it's alder) and started carving out the handle (tsuka). I slotted the wood to fit the tang (nagako) on both pieces and then glued them together and drilled the whole for the wooden pin (mekugi). Previous experience with the first tanto taught me that a belt sander could take off more than you want before you realized it so the shaping was done all by hand using some chisels and sand paper. I did use a bandsaw though to get a rough outline of the handle first.
Now that the handle is squared away I could get started on the sheath (saya). The process for making the sheath is pretty much the same as the handle, only it took me far more time to carve, at least 10 hours. Then some fine-tuning to make sure it all fit together.
With all that out of the way comes the difficult part, staining the wood. Because all I can do at this point is spend a few minutes applying the stain and then wait till the next day to see if it came out ok. So this went on for a while; put on stain, hurry-up-and-wait, sand down and re-apply. I was pleased with how it turned out, I did not manage to avoid getting some very little nicks and dings in the surface during this time however.
Once that was over some tweaking need to be done to both the handle and sheath to make the blade fit properly (humidity and temperature change are a bitch). I made the decision to changed the pin color later.
I went a whipped together a little display stand in-between the staining phase, cause you don't want this thing just lying on the table. I kept the design real simple, used alder for this too, painted it with a black acrylic, and added some felt for padding.
It's time for a very critical moment, detailing the sheath. My original idea, before the blade was even finished, was to paint Ruby's crest with rose petals blowing down the length of the sheath. I tested some paint I had at home and wasn't quite happy with that, went out and bought some other paints and tested those. They seemed to be close to what I was looking for, so I gave it a go. It absolutely failed.
I cleaned up the sheath and went back to the drawing board. I decided on the moon. Did a few tests with the paint, looked up some reference art work and then got to it.
Overall, I think it turned out ok.
Thanks for looking.