How to distinguish genuine ray skin and imitation ray skin
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The reason for using SAMEGAWA (ray skin) is to help bind the tsuka (handle) and the bumpy surface helps the ito grip to the handle as well. Natural ray skin is white, it can and is often dyed different colors. Here are some details to help you distinguish it:
The grains of genuine ray skin are tidily, closely, and naturally bonded together leaving no gaps in between;
The grains of genuine stingray could not be punctured with a red hot needle;
Genuine ray skin has a built in resistance to fire, heat;
Genuine ray skin is highly resistant to scratching.
Fake ray skin is soft which is usually made of plastic;
The grains of a fake would melt when burned or heated after a few seconds;
Imitation ray skin made from plastics will scratch and disfigure rather easily.
Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between imitation and real rayskin, the only way you can tell is to buy from a reputable company. HanBon Forge has no fake rayskin unless the customer has a special request.