Protect a Japanese Sword Blade in Shipping
defense for a Japanese sword when shipping is a sturdy well
constructed package. A strong package along with a reliable
carrier is essential to protecting your valued sword.
is fine, but it will not replace your one of a kind blade if it is lost
or damaged in shipping. Shipping insurance can also be difficult
to collect on. You must have proof of value such as a bill of
sale or a written appraisal from a professional third party
appraiser. To complicate matters further your blade will be
valuable after being polished, so any receipt or appraisal you have
will be out of date. Therefore your best bet on getting your
sword shipped without loss is a strong package.|
You can ship the blade in its mounting if you would like, but
need the blade not the entire mounting. A sturdy new
with a strong peg is good for shipping, but an older broken down
mounting will not give your blade much protection in
You may not want to ship a very valuable old koshire at all to protect
the fragile wood and lacquer. Finally, your blade may have no
mounting, so it can often occur that you end up shipping a bare blade.
Special steps must be taken when shipping a bare blade, but
it can be
done very safely and reliably. A bare blade will also give
smaller and lighter package that will cost less to ship and be less
likely to be damaged. To ship just the blade, take the blade
the mounting and wrap it in paper such as newspaper to prevent it from
being scuffed or finger printed. Wrap it tightly to prevent
it from moving around. The next step is to mount
blade onto a wooden board that is longer then the overall length of the
blade. A common 1"x2" to 1"x4" works very well.
hole in the board and put a heavy wire (at least 12 gauge solid) or
nylon rope or similar through the hole in the board and the hole in the
IS ESSENTIAL FOR SHIPPING AN UNMOUNTED
Further strap the blade onto the board with LOTS of heavy strapping
need a package that can withstand being dropped on its end from a
height of 2 or 3 feet. Being dropped its end by
postal workers will send the blade crashing forward
with the force of a hammer blow.
If you ship a bare blade
strapping it down the tip may crash into the end of the package and be
possibly cause injury!!! Strapping the blade down like this
protects it from the worst forms of shipping damage. It will
the blade from poking through the end of the packing. It will
also prevent the blade from being bent if the package is crushed.
This is a very good way to ship blades
internationally. It allows
customs inspectors to take the blade out and see that it is a sword,
but it is so difficult to get the blade off the board that they will
leave it attached without touching the surface of the blade. There is
nothing worse then getting a blade back from the
polisher with a perfect finish except for the custom inspector's finger
prints rusted into the surface! An unmounted blade strapped
to a board is absolutely NOT attractive to a potential thief,
especially if they don't know anything about Japanese swords.
mounted blade, even in just a shira-saya, is VERY attractive to a
potential postal or customs thief.
A bare blade strapped to a board in this manner can actually
much safer overall then a blade shipped in shira-saya or other
mounting. Bottom line, it's pretty hard to hurt a steel blade
strapped to a board, while fragile antique wood and lacquer is rather
Once you have a sturdy shira-saya or board mounting you need
carton. FedEx and the Post Office both have 38" triangular
shipping tubes that are very good for unmounted blades katana length
and under. The heavy cardboard core from a carpet roll or
light weight 4" pvc "sewer" pipe can also make a good shipping tube.
Wrap your blade in bubble wrap and seal it tightly in your
for safe shipping.
Finally you have to chose a carrier and this is essential.
Registered U.S. Mail or U.S. Express Mail with
insurance are best. Insured US Priority
Mail with delivery confirmation signature or FedEx can also be
used, but are much less secure.
Registered U.S. Mail
is the most secure. You
can insure for up to $25,000. The package stay locked up and
has to be signed for. It does have special
packaging requirements. You must have a "virgin"
This is a package with no old postage, address, or other marks on
it. The package also must be sealed with "paper
is the kind that you have to wet and stick. They have these
requirements so they can put "tamper seals" on the package.
package wrapping paper and paper tape can be found in the packaging
isle of most large office supply stores and some hardware stores.
is the kind of tape you want for Registered US mail shipping.
Click on the image to buy this tape from Amazon.
U.S. Express mail
insurance is an over night service from the post office. It
costs more than twice as much as Registered mail and is not as secure,
package moves very fast with good tracking which reduces the
opportunity for mishaps. You
can use any type of tape to seal an Express mail package.
you can only insure an antique Japanese sword for $500
max. They also consider all damage that occurs during
caused by inadequate packaging and will not pay any claims, so
appropriate insurance is NOT
available through FedEx. They also insist on opening and inspecting ALL
packages valued at over $499. This pretty much guarantees
swords with higher declared values will be finger printed, scuffed up
or otherwise buggered with, so you really must declare
an artificially low value for FedEx shipping. They do have
tracking and the packages move fast which makes them less likely to run
into trouble. You
can use any type of tape to seal a FedEx package.
shipping choice must Require
a direct signature.
Delivery confirmation is NOT enough. With delivery
confirmation the carrier pushes a button claiming that the package was
delivered, but there is no proof that the package was actually
delivered or that it was delivered to the correct address.
SWORD SHIPPING RULES
-DO NOT use a gun
to ship swords. The foam inserts do not hold swords securely
and you are just asking to have your package
stopped and opened.Make
to NEVER use a
retail shipping outlet, one of those chain
stores that does all the packaging and shipping for you. One
my clients did this and they not only stole the contents of his
original package, but sent a completely different box in its place.
Loss or theft by a third party retail shipper is not covered
stuff a bare blade with no handle into a scabbard for shipping. That's
a good way to break the tip of the blade or split the saya or both.
NOT use plastic zip ties to secure a sword blade. They have
high tensile strength but very poor shear resistance.
Translation, they break
use a wood peg to mount a sword on a board, it will break.
cheap on shipping, risking thousands of dollars just to save $10 or $20
is not good.
-DO NOT use
-DO NOT use uninsured US Mail.
NOT use FedEx GROUND shipping.
NOT declare a value of $499 or higher with FedEx.
open and unpack the box! They also will NOT pay an insurance
claim for over $500 on an antique sword blade so there is no benefit to
claiming a higher value.
NOT use retail shipping outlets like The USP Store, Knikos, Mail Boxes Plus etc. The
hourly workers at these outlets are known to have pretty
all of your own packing.
tell anyone what is in the package. If someone is nosy enough
ask, I usually just say 'original art work' which is technically true,
but not interesting enough to provoke a theft.
CHECK the mailing address. If you send
your package to the wrong address, you are not likely to get it back.
sword I have ever
seen lost or damaged in shipping was the result of the shipper either
packaging badly or going cheap on the shipping (no tracking and no
signature required). Follow the above guide lines and you can
make sure that your swords will always arrive safely. For
example, over the last 24 years of full time polishing, I have never
had a sword that I packed
and shipped lost or damaged in any way.
Puppy announces when the mail
the blades featured on this web site
are not currently in
my possession, do not belong to me and are not for sale as far as I
absolute minimum number of blades (usually just one or two unmounted
and unpolished) are kept on
hand at all times to minimize liability. -David Hofhine
feel free to
for more information at the following address:
David Hofhine, Kensei LLC