BestKendo.com

Shinai Care and Shinai Maintenance
By David Aguero

Care of the bamboo shinai is a critical part of practicing kendo.
We hope the following information is useful to you.


Parts of a Shinai
The illustration below shows the names of different parts of a shinai both seen and inside the construction of a shinai, and the names of the areas of the shinai.

Its useful to buy two of the same kind of a shinai at the same time, later making a third shinai from scavenged parts of the two shinai you bought for this purpose.


NEW Shinai

Sand, Condition, Wax
To care for your new kendo shinai you must first sand and round the edges with sand paper. Essential to preparing your shinai for use is to oil to condition the bamboo, and coat the bamboo with a protective coating of wax.

 
The angled edges in a new shinai are the surfaces that will either break and loosen up or cause other fibers to splinter off from impact.   Sand all the angled edges inside and out. Provides protection from splinter damage caused by angled edges of a new shinai.

Sanding (method 1)
Untie and remove string (tsuru) from bottom of shinai and leather ties (nakayui), leather cap (sakigawa) remove leather handle (tsukagawa). Sand and round all edges of shinai inside and out. Finish by sanding with the grain using fine sand paper.

Sanding (method 2)
Untie string (tsuru) from the handle, remove the leather tie (nakayui) and leather cap (sakigawa) from the top half of the shinai leaving the leather handle in place. Carefully spread shinai staves sand and round all edges of shinai inside and out. Sand only the top half of the shinai. Sand using medium sand paper then finish with fine sand paper.

Oil - Conditioning
Apply canola oil or our oil/cream, appling a thin coat to cover the shinai, and buff off the excess oil after a night of soaking. Oil conditioning is a proceeedure that should be done one time allowing the oil to dry then apply surface oil as needed. Oiling the shinai gives a similar protection as does the so called "bio" or dried resin soaked shinai/bamboo. Once oil has penetrated and dried in the shinai additional coats of oil do not penetrate the bamboo, or force out the previous oil so you are just coating the top surface layers of the shinai. Excessive soaking will make your shinai so heavy, it will be unusable until all the oil has completely dried.

Wax
Waxing a shinai gives a similar protection to oiling but has an advantage of being a dry lubricant, and does not add significant weight.
Nearly all the better made shinais are sold with a wax coating as a lubricant and to protect the surface of the bamboo.

Apply three coats of our BestKendo shinai wax (a blend of wax and oil) buff with a soft cloth to a remove excess wax. Reassemble the shinai being careful to tie the leather (nakayui) and string (tsuru) on tightly (see TIP below). Waxing your shinai gives a surface lubricant to the shinai, making splintering less likely.


TIP:
When oiling or waxing your shinai. You can quickly accomplish this maintenance WITHOUT taking your shinai apart. Simply expose the edges of your shinai by pressing down on one bamboo stave and waxing or applying a light coat of oil to the exposed edges. Pay close attention to slivers of bamboo that are beginning to separate, gently sand those areas until they are free of bamboo slivers and smooth again. Oil or wax until that area appears to have the same appearance as the rest of the shinai.


  General Information:
This photo shows a cross section of a shinai stave. Note how the grain of the bamboo appears to be more widely spaced on the edges making the edges very weak and vulnerable to splintering.

Shinai Assembly

Tie bottom first
Tie leather
TIP: Prevent your tie (nakayui) from coming undone by securing the end of the leather with a small amount of hot glue, cut off excess leather.

USED Shinai
Check for wear and damage
Inspect your shinai before every practice for splinter damage and cracked or broken bamboo staves. The only sure way to check for cracks in a shinai is to press down on each side of shinai to see any cracking on the edges or disassemble the shinai looking on the back of each bamboo stave. Check for cracks in the leather (nakayui) of the shinai parts. Do not use your shinai in practice until you have made the repairs needed.
Carefully check shinai for splinters before each practice
  Cracks in a shinai are not often seen from the top of the shinai unless it is checked carefully.

Sand, Wax
If your shinai is not conditioned it should be done one time only using our Shinai oil/cream or canola oil using the a modified sanding method.

Sanding Used Shinai (method 1)
Carefully check shinai for splinters mark location of splinters with a pencil. Untie and remove string (tsuru) from bottom of shinai, leather tie, (nakayui), leather cap (sakigawa) and leather handle (tsukagawa). Lightly sand and round edges of shinai with medium grade sand paper, sanding across the grain or use a sanding block removing splinters. Finish by sanding with the grain using fine sand paper.

Sanding Used Shinai (method 2)
Carefully check shinai for splinters mark location of splinters with a pencil. Untie string (tsuru) from the handle, remove the leather tie (nakayui) and leather cap (sakigawa) from the top half of the shinai leaving the leather handle (tsukagawa) in place. Carefully spread shinai staves sand and round all edges of shinai inside and out. Sand and round only the top half of the shinai. Sand across the grain with medium sand paper removing splinters then finish sanding with the grain with fine sand paper.

Wax
See "wax method"

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