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Larry Gotkin Handmade
Glossary

See a term that you don't know? Look to this glossary for the answer. The list here includes terms common in Japanese-style knife and sword making as well as other puzzling words that you might encounter on this website.

To learn more about the process of knife making and to see many of the body parts described in this glossary, please visit the How Made tab of the Japanese Style Swords & Knives page.

  • Please contact me if you're puzzled about any other words used in this website. I'll be glad to email their definitions to you and to add their definitions to this glossary.
Term Definition
acid etching Dissolution of the surface of the metal with a highly corrosive mixture of nitric and sulfuric acid.
aikuchi Short-bladed guardless tanto.
Chanukah See "Hanukkah."
chape The lower metallic cap of a sword's scabbard.
dagger Long, often double-edged knife used primarily as a stabbing weapon.
daisho A pair of swords, usually short and long, with matching mountings.
dirk Long-bladed knife, single or double-edged, used as a utility knife and/or weapon. Often refers to Scottish long knives.
Engnath Bob Engnath was a knife and sword maker who also ran the House of Muzzleloading, where he sold some of the finest unfinished tempered blades on the market.
engrail To form an edging or border, to run in curved or indented lines.
fuchi A cuplike mounting on the front end of grip.
grip Handle of knife, sword or pistol.
habaki A wedge-shaped mounting that holds the blade tight in the scabbard.
hadseax See "Seax."
hand guard Wood or metal disk, bar, or integral swelling in the grip designed to protect the hand from slipping over the blade, or to protect the hand from an opponent's blade. Japanese sword guards are not meant to provide protection from the opponent's blade.
Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah, Hannuka, etc.) Known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration around December of the miracle attributed to God when the Maccabees led the Jewish people to victory over the Syrian invaders in 186 BC. Hanukkah also commemorates the miracle of causing one day's supply of oil for the Menorah to last for eight days.
hilt Another word for grip or handle.
ito See "Tsuka-ito."
kashira A mounting on the back end of hilt. Together with fuchi, holds the hilt together.
katana Long sword of the Japanese Samurai class.
kissaki The point of the blade.
koiguchi The mouth of the scabbard.
kojiri The bottom end of the scabbard, also the mounting on the end of the scabbard.
kozuka Small knife often carried as a utility blade in the sheath of a wakizashi or katana.
kurikata A ring on the side of the scabbard for attaching the sageo.
kurigato Raised attachment point on the scabbard for securing the sageo.
mekugi The peg that holds the blade and hilt together. Often made of bamboo.
mekugi-ana The hole for mekugi in the blade.
menorah A seven-branched candelabrum whose original design was defined in the Hebrew Torah. It was used in rituals in the tabernacle (portable sanctuary) and later the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Today, Jews use Menorahs  with nine branches (Hanukkiah), which hold eight candles plus a "shamus" or "helper candle," to celebrate the holiday of Hanukkah in December. The Menorah is linked to a story wherein the original lamp stayed miraculously lit in a Jerusalem temple for eight days, much longer than expected because the lamp contained only enough oil for one day.
menuki A pair of mountings under the hilt-wrapping. Mostly decorative, but also improves grip.
mezuzah Parchment scroll inscribed with biblical passages, placed in a case, and attached to the doorpost of a Jewish home. The scroll contains part of the "shema" (pronounced "she-MAH"), a prayer that affirms the monotheistic nature of Judaism.
Micarta A synthetic ivory material made by the Formica company.
Mild steel A low carbon, construction steel, which doesn't harden like tool steel. 
nakago The tang of the sword.
puukko Traditional Finnish belt knife.
sageo Long silk or cotton cord used to secure the sword to the wearer.
samé The belly-skin of a shark or a ray under the wrapping on the hilt.
saya The scabbard, usually of magnolia wood.
sax See "Seax."
scabbard Sword sheath.
scramaseax See "Seax."
scramsax See "Seax."
scrimshaw Carved or engraved articles or objects, originally on whalebone or whale ivory. Now commonly includes any engraved ivory or imitation ivory, bone, tusk, or horn.
seax A Seax (also Hadseax, Sax, Seaxe, Scramaseax and Scramsax), was a type of Germanic single-edged knife. Seax seem to have been used primarily as a tool but may also have been a weapon in extreme situations. They occur in a size range from 7.5cm to 75cm. The larger ones (langseax) were probably weapons, the smaller ones (hadseax) tools, intermediate sized ones serving a dual purpose. The seax was worn in a horizontal sheath at the front of the belt. The Saxons may have derived their name from seax, the implement for which they were known.Source: Wikipedia English - The Free Encyclopedia
seaxe See "Seax."
seppa Small washers between habaki and tsuba and tsuba and fuchi.
sgian dubh Scottish "black knife", originally a small concealed knife, later
carried in the top of the stocking in classic Scottish garb.
sheath Case of wood, metal, leather, etc., used to protect the knife or blade while carrying or storing.
shirasaya A plain storage scabbard.
skean Another spelling for sgian. See sgian dubh above.
sprue A length of wax or plastic that allows the molten medium to flow through a hollow mold during the casting process.
tallit clip A jewelry item used to hold together the ends of a tallit (prayer shawl) worn by Jews during religious services.
tang The metal portion of a knife or sword that extends into the grip.
tanto Japanese knife, often built in the same manner as a sword.
tomahawk Small fighting ax commonly used by Native Americans and American settlers. European settlers in America brought iron and brass heads for trade in the 18th and 19th century.
tsuba The hand guard.
tsuka The hilt.
tsuka-ito Silk or cotton braid or cord, wrapped in a crossing-diamond pattern around the sword grip, providing strength and a non-slip grip.
tsukamaki The wrapping on the hilt.
wakizashi Japanese short sword.

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