There is a rough correlation between density of a wood and its strength (mechanical properties). For example, while mahogany is a medium-dense hardwood which is excellent for fine furniture crafting, balsa is light, making it useful for model building.
The densest wood we supply is Blackheart. Wood is commonly classified as either softwood or hardwood. The wood from conifers (e.g. pine) is called softwood, and the wood from broad-leaved trees (e.g. oak) is called hardwood.
These names are a bit misleading, as hardwoods are not necessarily hard, and softwoods are not necessarily soft. The well-known balsa (a hardwood) is actually softer than any commercial softwood. Conversely, some softwoods (e.g. yew) are harder than most hardwoods.
In coniferous or softwood species the wood cells are mostly of one kind, tracheids, and as a result the material is much more uniform in structure than that of most hardwoods. There are no vessels ("pores") in coniferous wood such as one sees so prominently in oak and ash, for example.
Japanese white oak has less of these vessels then its European or American counterpart. Amoung other things, this is what makes it a good wood for producing bokken. In our opinion however, the white oak selected for bokken in Japan nowadays, can in some cases leave much to be desired.
The japanese commercial bokkenmakers use wood that has more vessels then, lets say, 15 years ago. The wood is also much less dense and the grain is coarser. This is one of the reasons why we choose to look for alterantives to Japanese white oak.
We plan to offer custom products in Japanese white oak (shiro kashi) in the future and are able to supply you with a standard commercial white oak bokken from Japan in all of our koryu models, but we have choosen to offer what makes our company unique, a high degree of customisation.
Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) is the prefered wood for us at Koryu Bokken for the bokken used in daily practise. Hornbeam has many similarities to the Japanese white oak bokkens used to be made from some 15 years ago.
It has few vessels and the vessels it has are very small; it is about the same desity as Japanese white oak; it is strong; absorbs shocks; the wood dents without splintering and it's color is not to far from white oak to stand out in a dojo, if that may be a problem.
All the hornbeam is cut from our carpenter's own private forest in Croatia. Pieces are selected for their shape to follow te sori of your blade and then dried for one year before being procesed. Hornbeam can be used for both small and long weapons so you can order a full set of weapons with exactly the same colour.
Beech (Fagus sylvatica) is a common woodtype in Croatia and like hornbeam, it is cut from our carpenter's own private forest in Croatia. Pieces are selected for their shape to follow te sori of your blade and then dried for one year before being procesed.
The pieces of beech wood that are selected for long weapons are (amoung other things)inpected for their tendency to warp under different climate conditions. A complaint often encountered when working with beech.
Beech wood has a a more light brown colour and large "flames" in the wood that can make it more appealling for some then hornbeam.
Beech can be used for both small and long weapons so you can order a full set of weapons with exactly the same colour.
Wild Cherry (Prunus avium) can in its colour and "flames" be compared to beech, but it has a much lower density then any of the other woods we offert. Wild cherry dents easily and therefore is unsutable for daily hard contact practise.
Wild Cherry is, however, suitable for light weapons. Light weapons can be used by children or young adults; people with a temporary injury (such as a tennis elbow); senior practitioners.
There are many different spiecies of european oak (exp.: Quercus petraea). Our carpenter is working with us in testing the best spiecies for use in training equiptment. It won't be long before we made our choice, and will keep you updated when we have.
Acacia (Albizia procera) is a good wood for use in daily medium to hard contact practise. It colour is slightly yellow and it's desity is comparable to that of hornbeam.
Jatoba (Hymenaea courbaril) is a good wood for use in daily medium to hard contact practise. To us it's colour reminds us of older aka kashi (Japanese red oak) that our teachers used to use. It's desity is comparable to that of hornbeam.
We are currently examening te use of walnut (Juglans cinerea) for use in training equiptment. It won't be long before we made our decision, and will keep you updated when we have.
Ipe (Tabebuia serratifolia) is the densest wood we offer in our standard wood selection. The wood is hard, so it doesn't dent easily. The wood is flexible enough to use in medium to hard contact practise without being a menice to other students weapons.
Wenge (Millettia laurentii) is a wood that splinters quite easily. It's splinters are sharp and long. Before we actually made the first bokken out of this wood we were not convinced of it's practical use. That first bokken is now used by Arjan (owner of Sohei Trading of which KoryuBokken.com is a part) in daily practise.
Wenge turned out to be suitable for short weapons (bokken and kodachi) in light to medium contact practise. Some caution must still be advised, however, because of the nature of the splinters in this wood.This wood is not very suitable for practise where skin rubs the contact area of the bokken.
We are currently examening te use of zebrawood (Microberlinia brazzavillensis) for use in training equiptment. We can tell you it's a beautifull wood for the eye, but we need to be sure it's also good in the hands. It won't be long before we made our decision, and will keep you updated when we have.
We are currently examening te use of padauk (Pterocarpus marsupium) for use in training equiptment. We can tell you it's a beautifull wood for the eye, but we need to be sure it's also good in the hands. It won't be long before we made our decision, and will keep you updated when we have.
Indian Rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia) is one of our favorite woods when it comes down to looks. The dark chocolat brown wood makes for nice rustic and old feeling to every weapon. It does however dent more that we would have liked it to so, light to medium contact practise is advised. Although it will hold up in hard contact practise and won't break like a twig, it will come out dented.
Purpleheart (Peltogyne paniculata) is a dense, strong and hard wood. Perfect for medium to hard contact daily practise. It colour is extravagantly beautifull. That is where the dualism of the wood lies. It is beautifull, and therefore will stand out in your dojo. If that's fine by you, then this is the wood for you.
All previous woods are non-CITES spiecies and are readily available. Unfortunatelly we are unable to offer the following woodtypes on a regular basis, since the supply for suitable pieces is very slim. We do however offer some stock items from these woods and if your are very interested in one of these types of wood, feel free to contact us, maybe we can find you a piece.
Pear (Pyrus communis) has a beautifull "flame" and colour. The desity is somewhere between that of beech and that of wild cherry. It's rare to find a piece tht is suitable for buki.
Plum (Pygeum africanum) is Pero(our carpenter)'s personal favorite. The colour grain and "flame" is amazing. It can be used for daily practise in medium to hard contact, but it would almost be a shame to d so. On the other hand, bokken are meant to be used and it will still look great after years of daily practise and correct care.
Dogwood (Cornus florida)
Dogwood (Cornus florida) comes from a small bush, not a tree. This makes finding a piece suitable for any buki hard. Sometimes we come across a piece suitable for a bokken, but usually it's shoto/kodachi size.
The wood is as dense, strong and hard as ebony, but the colour is white and the grain usually has irregularities.
Like blackheart and ebony, be advised that your bokken can shatter the weapons of others. Although that might be good business for us, if you send them our way, we would like to advise only light to medium contact practise. Not because your bokken might break or dent, but because your partners will!
Blackheart (Zollernia paraensis) is our dark awnser to Ligum Vitae (which is a CITES spiecies). It's almost as dense and definately as hard.
Like dogwood and ebony, be advised that your bokken can shatter the weapons of others. Although that might be good business for us, if you send them our way, we would like to advise only light to medium contact practise. Not because your bokken might break or dent, but because your partners will!
Ebony (Diospyros melanoxylon) is a strong, hard en very dense wood. We only use piece that have no sap-wood, to ensure a rich, black colour throughout the piece.
These pieces are availible commercially, but it's hard to find a pice that has a economical size. If we have to throw away 45% of the wood from a one bokken, we won't buy that piece.The amount of waiste makes the price of a bokken too high.
If we do come across a piece roughly bokken size, we don't hesitate to buy it. Ebony is a very popular wood for bokken.
Like dogwood and blackheart, be advised that your bokken can shatter the weapons of others. Although that might be good business for us, if you send them our way, we would like to advise only light to medium contact practise. Not because your bokken might break or dent, but because your partners will!