WIP: Modding AUTOGRAPHED Kill Bill Hanzo Sword W/O defacing signature

EvilOttoJr

New Member
Hi folks! First post here; I came here because I need the advice of experts and I know this is a good place to find them.

Okay, here's the story: I have a replica of the Bride's Hattori Hanzo sword from Kill Bill that I had signed by Sonny Chiba (Hanzo-san himself) in 2019.

20220624_071145.jpg

(I made the Death List Five myself :))


20210819_232406.jpg

(Me with Sonny Chiba at Galaxycon Raleigh 2019)

As you might be able to tell from my pic of my Kill Bill shrine, the sword is not a particularly accurate replica; better than many on the market, but still way off. It was the closest thing I could find on such short notice when I found out Sonny Chiba would be at a convention near me.

Recently, Tested put out a video about a screen-used Hanzo sword, and that got me thinking, maybe I should put some work into making mine more accurate. The issue is, it has been signed, and sadly Mr. Chiba has unfortunately passed away in the time since. So anything I do, I have to be very careful to keep the signing intact, for it is very dear to me, and cannot ever be replaced.

20220624_071304.jpg


Most work will need to be put into the saya, as the carving is completely wrong and it is missing the gold stripes and three important components (koiguchi, kojiri, and semegane).

20220624_071402.jpg

(why is this carving on *every* retail Kill Bill sword replica? what is it even from?)

The sword itself is better, mostly just needs some paint on the fittings, and even the tsuba looks about right, but having the proper menuki ornaments would be nice. The "foo dog" engraving, which appeared to have been stamped or maybe milled in, isn't quite in the right spot (a little too high up), but it's close enough, and would be nigh-impossible to rework anyways.

20190730_015105.jpg


Thanks to Jason Blakey and Adam Savage, there's no shortage of good reference for me to peruse, and in fact Jason Blakey has an excellent build log I found.

So my to-do-list is as follows:
- Fill in/smooth over inaccurate carving and re-lacquer the saya. I can mask off the "seams" of the new lacquer and hide them with the gold stripes, saya wrapping, and semegane ring.
- Carve the proper lioness engraving into the scabbard. I'm not bad with a Dremel so this can be done by hand (though I will practice lots on a cheap saya first).
- Add the gold stripes and saya fittings.
- If possible, obtain the proper menuki ornaments and re-wrap the hilt.
- Paint the existing fittings (simple enough)

Sacrifices I am willing to make:
- None of the fittings need to be metal; 3D-printed resin is as good as solid brass to me, it's going to get painted anyways. If I can obtain proper ones, great, but I hear they are hard to get, so I can make do without.
- Mylar tape will be sufficient for the gold stripes (in fact, I've already got some lying around from another project), no need to get crazy with real brass.
- Lioness carving can be a little further up the saya and semagane ring can be a bit further down to avoid overlapping the inaccurate carving or covering up the signature, respectively.
- Don't really need real ray-skin or anything like that; whatever leather is on there looks fine IMO.
- Anything that won't be visible when the sword is assembled (e.g. carvings on the tang) is not necessary for me.

Where I need help:
- I found a 3D model of the kojiri by Jason Blakey that I can get printed, but not of the koiguchi or semegane. My 3D modeling skills are nowhere near what I need to be able to model them from scratch, simple as they are. Perhaps some already exist somewhere, but Googling has found me nothing.
- I have no idea how to lacquer a saya nor what best to fill in the bad carving with that will take the lacquer well.
- As to the lioness carving, I do not know what I should finish the wood with after it has been carved that also won't mess with the lacquer.
- I'm sure there's a technique to keeping the mylar tape from wrinkling during application to a compound-curved surface that I should know about.

I understand that Mr. Blakey is on these forums somewhere and I hope this post catches his eye, but I would of course greatly welcome any input that anyone might have for me towards making this sword worthy of the autograph branded upon it.

Many thanks in advance!
 

joberg

Master Member
Hi folks! First post here; I came here because I need the advice of experts and I know this is a good place to find them.

Okay, here's the story: I have a replica of the Bride's Hattori Hanzo sword from Kill Bill that I had signed by Sonny Chiba (Hanzo-san himself) in 2019.

View attachment 1591077
(I made the Death List Five myself :))


View attachment 1591078
(Me with Sonny Chiba at Galaxycon Raleigh 2019)

As you might be able to tell from my pic of my Kill Bill shrine, the sword is not a particularly accurate replica; better than many on the market, but still way off. It was the closest thing I could find on such short notice when I found out Sonny Chiba would be at a convention near me.

Recently, Tested put out a video about a screen-used Hanzo sword, and that got me thinking, maybe I should put some work into making mine more accurate. The issue is, it has been signed, and sadly Mr. Chiba has unfortunately passed away in the time since. So anything I do, I have to be very careful to keep the signing intact, for it is very dear to me, and cannot ever be replaced.

View attachment 1591079

Most work will need to be put into the saya, as the carving is completely wrong and it is missing the gold stripes and three important components (koiguchi, kojiri, and semegane).

View attachment 1591082
(why is this carving on *every* retail Kill Bill sword replica? what is it even from?)

The sword itself is better, mostly just needs some paint on the fittings, and even the tsuba looks about right, but having the proper menuki ornaments would be nice. The "foo dog" engraving, which appeared to have been stamped or maybe milled in, isn't quite in the right spot (a little too high up), but it's close enough, and would be nigh-impossible to rework anyways.

View attachment 1591084

Thanks to Jason Blakey and Adam Savage, there's no shortage of good reference for me to peruse, and in fact Jason Blakey has an excellent build log I found.

So my to-do-list is as follows:
- Fill in/smooth over inaccurate carving and re-lacquer the saya. I can mask off the "seams" of the new lacquer and hide them with the gold stripes, saya wrapping, and semegane ring.
- Carve the proper lioness engraving into the scabbard. I'm not bad with a Dremel so this can be done by hand (though I will practice lots on a cheap saya first).
- Add the gold stripes and saya fittings.
- If possible, obtain the proper menuki ornaments and re-wrap the hilt.
- Paint the existing fittings (simple enough)

Sacrifices I am willing to make:
- None of the fittings need to be metal; 3D-printed resin is as good as solid brass to me, it's going to get painted anyways. If I can obtain proper ones, great, but I hear they are hard to get, so I can make do without.
- Mylar tape will be sufficient for the gold stripes (in fact, I've already got some lying around from another project), no need to get crazy with real brass.
- Lioness carving can be a little further up the saya and semagane ring can be a bit further down to avoid overlapping the inaccurate carving or covering up the signature, respectively.
- Don't really need real ray-skin or anything like that; whatever leather is on there looks fine IMO.
- Anything that won't be visible when the sword is assembled (e.g. carvings on the tang) is not necessary for me.

Where I need help:
- I found a 3D model of the kojiri by Jason Blakey that I can get printed, but not of the koiguchi or semegane. My 3D modeling skills are nowhere near what I need to be able to model them from scratch, simple as they are. Perhaps some already exist somewhere, but Googling has found me nothing.
- I have no idea how to lacquer a saya nor what best to fill in the bad carving with that will take the lacquer well.
- As to the lioness carving, I do not know what I should finish the wood with after it has been carved that also won't mess with the lacquer.
- I'm sure there's a technique to keeping the mylar tape from wrinkling during application to a compound-curved surface that I should know about.

I understand that Mr. Blakey is on these forums somewhere and I hope this post catches his eye, but I would of course greatly welcome any input that anyone might have for me towards making this sword worthy of the autograph branded upon it.

Many thanks in advance!
You could PM JBlakey anytime and start a conversation related to your challenges;)
 

EvilOttoJr

New Member
You could PM JBlakey anytime and start a conversation related to your challenges;)
I had no idea what his username was (though that's about the easiest one I could have randomly guessed:lol:) or if he was even still active here. Plus I'm sure if he is active, he's likely bombarded by people asking him questions about specifically this. At any rate, I'll send a PM his way, but I'll keep this thread up anyways because I'm sure someone here has some relevant knowledge :D
 

EvilOttoJr

New Member
If the signature is that important to you, I would get a different scabbard and modify that one. Sounds like there is the possibilty of a lot of things going wrong that could affect the sig.
But what would be the point of having a signed Hattori Hanzo sword if I just put all the work into a completely different sword? Why would I let the signed one languish as an inaccurate piece and then upgrade another one? Looking past the fact that it's unlikely that I'll even be able to find some random scabbard online that would even fit this sword in the first place - that's hard to do even with mass-produced katanas - it completely defeats the purpose of what I'm going for here. I want a signed, accurate Hattori Hanzo sword, and I'm halfway there, I just need help getting the rest of the way. I know it's possible.
 

JW Foust

Well-Known Member
But what would be the point of having a signed Hattori Hanzo sword if I just put all the work into a completely different sword? Why would I let the signed one languish as an inaccurate piece and then upgrade another one? Looking past the fact that it's unlikely that I'll even be able to find some random scabbard online that would even fit this sword in the first place - that's hard to do even with mass-produced katanas - it completely defeats the purpose of what I'm going for here. I want a signed, accurate Hattori Hanzo sword, and I'm halfway there, I just need help getting the rest of the way. I know it's possible.
An accurate one wouldn't be signed by Sonny Chiba? I'm sure it's possible as well, but I'm just seeing too many chances for something to go wrong and mess up an irreplaceable signature. Ultimately, it's your property, do as you will with it.
 

13doctorwho

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I agree about finding another scabbard. That's an irreplaceable item with huge sentimental value. It's way to easy to damage the signature. Whatever you decide to do... hope it works out.
 

EvilOttoJr

New Member
I agree about finding another scabbard. That's an irreplaceable item with huge sentimental value. It's way to easy to damage the signature. Whatever you decide to do... hope it works out.
You're missing the point of this entirely. Please see my above comment; not only are katana scabbards near impossible to match fit, but it defeats the purpose of having a signed Hattori Hanzo sword just to put a lot of money and time into buying and customizing a whole other sword.
An accurate one wouldn't be signed by Sonny Chiba?
I'm pretty sure you know what I meant. Accurate sword plus signature. Obviously the one in the film isn't signed. Mine is signed on the obverse reverse, so when it is displayed, the sig doesn't show; it's only when you pick it up that you see the other side and can appreciate the sig. I want it to have the correct details in addition to the signature. I'm not trying to be rude here, but I'm pretty sure I did a good job of making my intentions clear, and I don't get what's so difficult to understand about what I want and why I want it. What I'm asking isn't "should I?", it's "This is what I'm doing. Is my planned process sound? Where can I get what I'm looking for? Has anyone ever done something like this or have relevant expertise?"
 
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scarf man

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
My advice would be to cover the signature up with a material that will not rub it off, like tissue paper, wrap that up in tape and then do your modifications.
You're missing the point of this entirely. Please see my above comment; not only are katana scabbards near impossible to match fit, but it defeats the purpose of having a signed Hattori Hanzo sword just to put a lot of money and time into buying and customizing a whole other sword.

I'm pretty sure you know what I meant. Accurate sword plus signature. Obviously the one in the film isn't signed. Mine is signed on the obverse, so when it is displayed, the sig doesn't show; it's only when you pick it up that you see the other side and can appreciate the sig. I want it to have the correct details in addition to the signature. I'm not trying to be rude here, but I'm pretty sure I did a good job of making my intentions clear, and I don't get what's so difficult to understand about what I want and why I want it. What I'm asking isn't "should I?", it's "This is what I'm doing. Is my planned process sound? Where can I get what I'm looking for? Has anyone ever done something like this or have relevant expertise?"
As an aside, obverse means facing the observer.

Here is jblakey ’s thread on the RPF to read through.
 
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PoopaPapaPalps

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
If you want to keep the signature and something that resembles something more like the real prop, and you're fine with things that are like the details on the prop as you've laid your intentions on doing, just go with it. I'd protect the sig area like scarf man suggested, but you've already go the plan, so get to work.

Personally, if it were me, I might start with what you're doing but eventually my work-arounds would get the better of me and I'd go the distance in completely doing it up right. At least, the best that I could do. For me, to keep the signature but have the proper details, I'd chop up the scabbard, keeping the signature area in one piece with enough area around it to work with. Then rebuild the entire scabbard around that section, blending as best I could without disturbing the the signature, to fit the sword but with the improved details. That might be a tall order but, for me, it would definitely be worth it to have his signature on a finer piece than on a cruddy one with my cheats all over it.
 

EvilOttoJr

New Member
As an aside, obverse means facing the observer.
Thanks; that was a silly mix-up on my end.
Here is jblakey ’s thread on the RPF to read through.

I've perused this and his article on SBG (which is basically the same content compiled) and while it is a very good resource for reference pics, there's a few things specific to mine that it looks like I'll have to figure out on my own. A friend of mine offered to model the remaining pieces for me; it would perhaps be easier to obtain them from Jason (especially the hilt ornaments) if he gets back to me, but he appears to be either busy or presently inactive and so I'm not going to pester him. Definitely going to be masking the signature and then masking over that masking; gotta make sure nothing is getting thru. At any rate, thanks!
 

scarf man

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
You’ve given yourself a tall order. Once you get stuck in it’ll become apparent how to proceed. You mentioned testing your carving skills on a cheap saya, but you should also test all your other processes too, like the filling, lacquering, laying down the mylar. Please keep us updated and take lots of pics as you go.
 

EvilOttoJr

New Member
You’ve given yourself a tall order. Once you get stuck in it’ll become apparent how to proceed. You mentioned testing your carving skills on a cheap saya, but you should also test all your other processes too, like the filling, lacquering, laying down the mylar. Please keep us updated and take lots of pics as you go.
Good call; guess a test saya is going to be the first thing on my list. Definitely will update with pics whenever I do manage to get started.

Personally, if it were me, I might start with what you're doing but eventually my work-arounds would get the better of me and I'd go the distance in completely doing it up right. At least, the best that I could do. For me, to keep the signature but have the proper details, I'd chop up the scabbard, keeping the signature area in one piece with enough area around it to work with. Then rebuild the entire scabbard around that section, blending as best I could without disturbing the the signature, to fit the sword but with the improved details.
Fortunately, I don't think I'll have to cut apart any part of this to make it work; masking should do it. The only real danger to the sig throughout these processes is the painting, but with proper masking and the sig facing away from the painted side anyways, I think I can safely do that part. There's also the risk of just messing up royal on the carving, but if I practice a bunch of times on the test saya as Scarf Man suggested, I should be able to really get the hang of it; the design itself looks pretty straightforward to engrave, mostly uniform line thickness, no particularly complex details. I did some digital measurements on a picture of a JBlakey saya and as it turns out, I will be able to put the lioness carving and the brass ring exactly where they should be; the bad carving on the current one is actually well out of the way of the proper position, so I lucked out there. I'm thinking that overall, I should be able to get a pretty darn reasonably accurate replica actually.

That might be a tall order but, for me, it would definitely be worth it to have his signature on a finer piece than on a cruddy one with my cheats all over it.

That is exactly the feeling I've been trying to express, thank you for putting it into different words. If it's going to be signed by the man himself, then it should be a piece worthy of that signature. Like, there's no way I would have had him sign the crappy $30 one I had before I got this one; this was just the best one available at the time. and it's close enough that I think I can get it up to snuff with a bit of crafting love.
 

EvilOttoJr

New Member
So, some updates:

1 Jblakey got back to me and was kind enough to sell me some of his spare parts, and at a great price, too! So the tsuba, fuchi, kashira, and menuki (handguard, handle fittings and ornaments) are all taken care of. And he's modifying a 3D model of the kojiri (saya (scabbard) endcap) that I can get printed, so that'll be done too. Also got some advice on tape application that will come in handy. And lastly, he came up with a good backup option for the lioness carving - if it doesn't go well on the test saya, I can get the emblem made as a stencil on a Cricut and paint it on. Not ideal, but better than nothing. I'm still going to try the carving, but there is at least a less risky option if that turns out to not be feasible.. Very proud to have jblakey's involvement on this!

2. I was still in need of rings for the koiguchi (where the sword enters the sheath) and semegane (gold ring 2/3rd down the saya), but fortunately my buddy Chris at OnyxFDM knows Fusion 360 pretty well and was able to whip some stuff up for me really quickly. I gave him some pencil traces of the relevant areas of my saya (the middle area being obtained by wrapping a wide wire tie around it at that point and then tracing the wire) and he got to work.
1657287410118.png

1657287528205.png

(Note: a koiguchi is actually a lot more robust than a simple ring that goes around the saya, it's a genuine fitted piece that reinforces the wood and keeps the friction fit just right for the sword. My saya technically already has one, but it's blended in to be flush with the rest of the piece, rather than the more pronounced one seen on the movie prop. So mine is just a ring for looks.)
1657287620993.png

These are actually thicker than the dimensions Jblakey listed in his build log (his were 10mm and 6mm, mine are 11mm and 8mm), but the more I looked at the parts, the more trouble I had believing they were actually that thin. I think they look good as is, but it'll be easy enough to shrink them if I randomly change my mind.

I then printed them out on my Prusa i3 for test fitting (the final ones will be printed in resin to get rid of layer lines). They were dimensioned using the exact measurements of the saya, so for fitting I scaled them up to 102%, and the semegane was printed in two halves because its footprint is so thin that not even a raft would adhere it to the bed, but it worked out fine.
1657287847854.png

1657287901683.png

1657287923674.png

1657287955571.png


I think they look great! As soon as I get the files for the kojiri, I'll send all three off the get printed in resin. I also have 3D printable cross-sections of the saya itself that I can send off for test fitting. so I've got a good plan in place methinks for all the saya edits.

Comparisons with the same pieces on Adam Savage's sword for context (via the Tested video):
1657289053394.png

1657289088763.png


Still working on acquiring a test saya, though it looks like due to awful Chinese shipping prices, it'll be far cheaper and faster to just get an el cheapo sword and cannibalize the saya from that.

Oh, also! Since there are no readily available files for the koiguchi or semegane rings online, I have decided to upload mine here! These are made to exactly fit my saya, but I imagine the cross sections of most will be similar enough that these can be modified in your slicer of choice with simple non-uniform X/Y scaling to fit your desired dimensions. The step file is also included, so those of you with F360 can do more robust edits. Thanks again to Chris at OnyxFDM for making these and granting permission to share the files.

This project is off to a fantastic start!
 

joberg

Master Member
Yes, fantastic start and jblakey is certainly the person to have on your side(y)(y) It's looking very good. As for parts in real metal you could also try to contact tombstone makers. Some have shops that can pour metal pieces adorning tombstones and they can be very cheap (personal experience;)) Keep up the good work and eager to see your next update!
 

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