I try to add my half a cent (2 cents is probably too much ): I remember well a moment, in the first phases of my nihonto infatuation, when I wasn't sure of how much time/effort/money I would invest, but I really wanted to find a way to put my hands on a Japanese blade.
The so-called "project blades" seemed like an interesting shortcut: cheap, in poor condition, but original! I could imagine the story: a humble blade, worthless for everyone, but potentially a great experience for me: if only I could remove a little rust, just a little touch-up, without doing damage...
Then I learned a little more and realised that the problem with my fantasy did reside in that "without doing any damage": if you're not trained properly, whatever you do, you will ruin something unique. I agree with Ed: my suggestion is to grab a copy of "The Art of Japanese Sword Polishing". If you are here, you'll enjoy the book and, along the way, you'll understand that you don't really want to try things on your blade.
At that point you'll have a few options:
- enjoy the blade as it is
- ask a trained polisher to open a window
If the book will increase your desire of working with wet stones instead of sedating it, you could also look for someone willing to train you: in that case "project blades" would probably become your training ground. But this is only a confirmation that for now you should not touch the blade: even the humblest of the blades could become a training tool for someone who's investing an important part of his life learning old skills. I think this kind of story sounds way better than "Damn! I did my best but now it looks like a weird butter knife..."