The Tang - Parts of the Sword
Common tangs used in sword construction
The tang is an important part of the sword. It is the hidden piece of metal that runs inside the hilt which holds the entire sword together. If not made correctly the tang is one major factor in determining if sword could be functional or not. Some of the common tangs you will encounter are:
Full Tang & Traditional Tang
The full tang and traditional tangs are two different things with the later being more of an “in-house” term then a recorded tang type.
The full tang is exactly as it says. The tang itself is the same width and thickness of the blade then the grips are pinned to the flats of the tang and the entire blade can bee seen around the grip. This is seen often in bushcraft knives and steak knives but it is not often used in swords. The name “full tang” can be confusing as it is one of those terms that gets used very loosely and often inaccurately. Because of this when we talk about swords we often use “traditional tang”
A traditional tang for the sword varies from sword types but it always gradually reduces in size from width to thickness to fit within the handle and will always be an extension of the blade itself. It will also be long enough that it passes the grip position of the handle. Most Japanese swords will stop about an inch before the kashira (pommel) and the European will usually extend straight through the end of the pommel where it will be either peened or be threaded to hold the sword together. If threaded the tang itself will gradually become round towards the pommel and be threaded. It will not be an attached rod on a functional sword known as a rat-tail.
The Rat-Tail and Stick Tang
These two tang types are found often in decorative sword construction. They are very similar in design. Both are a thin metal rod that is welded onto the shoulder of the blade that extends through the handle and is fastened by either a nut or a decorative pommel which is screwed onto the end. The only difference in these two tans is the the rat-tail is a threaded rod and the stick tang is only threaded at the end. This construction works for decorative swords but is not strong enough for casual or martial arts use.
The push tang is inserted into an already constructed handle and is fastened by either a pin or compression that pinches it into place. We do not advise that these constructions are used for anything other than a decorative sword. They will hold them together nicely but won't withstand the stress of swordplay.
This type of construction involves a handle material molded around the tang itself and fastened in place by either a rivet or pin. They are commonly found on modern machete and tactical knives. There are not too many swords that use this method as it can vary on stability if done incorrectly. If done properly it can be used on some modern functional modals of sword.
There are several other tangs being produced but these are the most common for the sword