Something a Little Different

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Project by Dan Pleska posted 10-05-2007 05:58 PM 3279 views 5 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

When I’m not making sawdust, I like to practice Tai-Chi with my wife Cat. Recently we started learning a new form of Tai-Chi practiced with swords. Although Tai-Chi is a martial art, this form is done in a slow deliberate manner. We do not strike at each other with the swords. I purchased a traditional Tai-Chi sword which turned out to be a little too heavy for Cat. I decided to make one from, you guessed it, wood. They sell wooded practice swords, but why would a woodworker buy a wooden sword?

This sword is made from a single piece of Cherry. After making it our instructor said it was a little too light to make it a useful practice sword. In an effort to increase the weight I added a strip of Lignum Vitae to the blade portion. The strip goes all the way through, so I don’t think you would call it inlay. I also drilled a 3/8” hole down through the handle and inserted a piece of steel rod.

After sanding with 220 grit and woodburning the traditional Ying-Yang symbol I sprayed it with clear lacquer. Now we both have swords to practice with.

-- Dan, West Virginia,

14 comments so far

View WayneC's profile


14359 posts in 5340 days

#1 posted 10-05-2007 06:55 PM

I like this on a lot of different levels, form, function, and the tie to your family. I hope it gets years of regular use.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5461 days

#2 posted 10-05-2007 07:08 PM

Nice job, Dan. At the health club I used to belong to they offered a Tai-Chi with swords class. Never tried it, but it looked pretty cool.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View gbvinc's profile


629 posts in 5190 days

#3 posted 10-05-2007 07:09 PM


I have made quite a few wooden practice and presentation swords for HaiDong Gumdo practitioners (Katana style). Originally I just made one for myself and before I knew it I was asked to make a few more for gifts at a training retreat. Since these swords do come in contact during practice, I used hardwood like Hickory, etc. and I ran into the opposite problem and needed to design laminated pieces to reduce the weight.

Any plan to wrap the handles?

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5404 days

#4 posted 10-05-2007 07:20 PM

fascinating, lovely, and – I like your photos!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Karson's profile


35278 posts in 5644 days

#5 posted 10-05-2007 08:49 PM

Great job. Nice design and form

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5490 days

#6 posted 10-06-2007 01:09 AM

I got into karate while in the service. Got up to yellow belt and that just about suited me. I was pretty scared going up against other Karate clans from different Kaserns or Posts in Germany. A guy can really get busted up. When I broke some ribs, I quit. My system was Go-Ju-Rye Japanese karate, the master was Goganyamaguchi. It was fun and It got me in the best shape of my life. I remember on guard duty at Fort knox they gave us night sticks to carry while on guard duty but the Sargent of the Guard told us not to use them on anyone cause it would just piss them off. I always felt the same way about what I learned in Karate. I never used it, I did’nt want to piss anyone off. LOL. Beautiful sword. jockmike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View mot's profile


4928 posts in 5280 days

#7 posted 10-06-2007 01:24 AM

Good rule of life, Mike. Try not to deliberately piss anyone off. That’s a nice sword!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View 's profile

593 posts in 5215 days

#8 posted 10-06-2007 03:04 AM

Interesting piece, really different from what we are used to see here Dan.

Regarding the taichi dance it’s widely practiced in Vietnam. There is a video about it in the feed of this podcast. It’s from an american living in Japan. Even though the women performing doesn’t use the sword, you still can see other people in the background carrying them.

Enjoy your relaxation time.

View Dan Pleska's profile

Dan Pleska

142 posts in 5204 days

#9 posted 10-06-2007 05:09 AM

Thanks for all the kind comments.

I agree, Mike. I don’t go out of my way to piss anyone off, or spit into the wind either : ) Although Tai-Chi is a martial art it is usually practiced for health and relaxation. I’ve also heard of it referred to as slow motion Kung-Fu.

Jojo, Thanks for that video link. I recognise the form that the lady is doing in the video as the Yang – Simplified Form. We learned it and the Yang – Long Form as prerequisites for the Yang – Sword Form we are learning know.

-- Dan, West Virginia,

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5570 days

#10 posted 10-06-2007 05:39 AM

That is great – the craftsmanship of the sword, and that it gets practical use! What a great project.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View mtnwild's profile


4458 posts in 4770 days

#11 posted 10-02-2008 12:34 AM

Very cool, nice to practice with a crafted piece of nature. When not in use, a subtle reminder and an art piece.

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View John M's profile

John M

46 posts in 4443 days

#12 posted 09-02-2009 12:59 AM

I really like this. I would love to know what you used to make this (method / tools etc)

-- John, Ontario, Canada

View Dan Pleska's profile

Dan Pleska

142 posts in 5204 days

#13 posted 09-02-2009 03:33 AM

Hi John,

I traced the basic shape on a single piece of cherry, then used a band saw to cut it out. The rest was done with a rasp, carving chisels, riffler files, and sandpaper. I cut the slit in the blade (that goes all the way through) with a dado blade on the table saw. The table saw work was done before I band sawed the shape. Glad you liked it.

-- Dan, West Virginia,

View a1Jim's profile


118253 posts in 4820 days

#14 posted 09-02-2009 03:36 AM

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