How to DIY Tameshigiri Material for Cutting?


How to DIY Tameshigiri Material for Cutting?

How to DIY Tameshigiri Material for Cutting

Tameshigiri is an ancient art. If you are into Japanese swords, then you would know that it is all about doing cutting tests. It is done in an elegant way which makes it a spectacle in itself. But you do not need exquisite materials for some super rare materials to make for use in cutting.

You can just roll up newspaper over an oak beam to create cheap and quick DIY targets for tameshigiri. Just ensure that you seal the roll-up newspaper properly and let it soak in water for at least 24 hours. That is how you will get the best use of it.

Newspapers are not the only option you have though. You can use tatami mats as well. Those are more authentic and are exactly how it is done in Dojos.

How to DIY Material for Tameshigiri?

In tameshigiri, something called a tatami is mostly used for testing swords. It gives you the most elegant and cleanest cut. The word tameshigiri literally translates to cutting test in English. Here is a thing most people do not know. It is not just a normal cutting test to check the quality of a sword. In fact, tameshigiri can be considered a martial art itself. 

Here is the thing though, if you are trying to DIY it, then you probably do not have access to all the authentic stuff. However, you can make tatami mats for tameshigiri right at home. You can do it pretty easily too. So, there is not much you need to worry about.

You can create it by using some newspaper to prepare materials for cutting. The good thing about this method is it will not cost you an arm and a leg.

Here is how to do it.

Step 1 – Gather Old Newspaper

The first order of business is to gather newspapers. This will be one of the key materials you will use for cutting. Lay the newspapers flat on a surface. Laying it on the floor is best. You will have a lot of room to work with this way.

The way you layer the papers is important. Do not just throw them flat. For the first layer, you need to open the newspapers up all the way and lay them down completely flat. The second layer of newspaper can be laid down with single folds. You do not need to unfold the papers completely. They can be left long.

After that, you can just add another layer of newspaper on top of it. For this layer, you can just lay down folded newspapers on top of each other. Do not roll them up yet though. You need a solid base in the middle. 

Step 2 – Wooden Base

All the newspaper layer needs to be wrapped around a solid base. This piece is best made of wood. You can use oak beams, they work well. Each cutting target needs to have at least one wooden base inside it.

Tear up a large paper bag and wrap it around the oak beam. Then place the beam on one side of the laid-out newspapers and start rolling. Roll it up as tightly as you can. Make sure you do it evenly. 

After you roll it up, the whole thing should be around 5 inches. Do not worry if it is not exactly 5 inches though.

Step 3 – Tie It Up

To secure everything in place, you need to tie it up altogether. There are two options here. You can either use packaging tape or zip ties. Honestly both work just fine. And you do not need to worry about which method to use. 

Pick what you have. Tie the rolled-up newspapers with zip ties. Use 3-4 zip ties to ensure a proper seal. The newspapers need to be in place. You can also use packaging tape. If you tape it properly, sometimes, that will help it stay in place securely.

Step 4 – Soaking in Water

Get a big bucket that is watertight. The bucket can be any kind. You can even use large bins used for composting. The idea is the target you just made needs to fit in and it should not have any leaks. Otherwise, the water would just leak out obviously.

Fill the bucket with water and put the tameshigiri targets you just made. They should at least for 24 hours. After soaking, they will become pretty much ready.

Using Tatami Omote

If you want to be fancier and stay true to how it is done in dojos, then using tatami is best. These can make for pretty challenging targets and will give you an authentic feel. 

The same idea applies here as well. You will roll up the tatami omote onto bamboo to make targets. Here is how to make them using tatami omote.

Step 1 – Wrapping Tatami Omote Around Bamboo

Take your tatami mats and start rolling. You need to start by folding the tatami mats in two but leave the top edge counting 6 inches from the bottom. The roll needs to be very tight. How do you know if it is tight enough? Well, if you can fit your finger inside, then it is not tight enough.

After the rolling is done, you need to secure it. Just like you did earlier. However, since we are being truer to the artform here with tatami mats, instead of zip ties or tape, you would use rubber bands or twine. About 6 rubber bands will hold it in place perfectly.

To make it a bit more challenging, you can wrap the tatami mats up around bamboo. Not just any bamboo though. They should be cut green around a day or two of harvesting.

Step 2 – Soaking

Get a bucket large enough that is enough to completely submerge the rolled-up tatami mats. Soak it for at least 2 hours. However, 24 hours or overnight is the best way to go on about it. Since dry tatami mats are buoyant, you would need some kind of weight to keep them submerged. 

Another tip, make sure to get a sealed bucket. You want nothing but the water touching your rolled-up tatami.

Step 3 – Target Stand and Spiking Targets

After that, you need a solid target and spike. Standard stands are 24x24x24 inches. A stand that is made from oak can be a pretty solid base.  You can check out this guide to know more.

Wrapping Up

There you have it. Now you know how to DIY tameshigiri targets for cutting. If you know the basics, then preparing targets just from newspapers is pretty easy. Remember to clean your katana after every cut. Of course, you always go the more authentic route and use tatami omote or tatami mats.

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