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Little Preservation Story

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#1 vajo



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Posted 16 December 2018 - 01:03 AM

I know, i know that militaria collectors never touch a koshirae. But maybe, sometimes the piece need help to overlive the next decade.


So in this case. 


I bought a nice gendaito in optical good koshirae. On monday evening i take a deeper look in the saya because some wooden chips get out with the sword. And i hear a short rough sound steel on steel by pulling the sword out. I remove the koiguchi and pull out the wodden saya carefully. 

It fall out into pieces. The glue has gone and the lower part was complete open. Not good, really not good for the blade.


The coloring of the saya was only a mixture of black rust, black ground color and some parts green color. I hold the saya into the light, look in it and saw a little light shining near the kojiri. 

I feel this would be a bigger task.


I removed now all parts of the saya to see in what condition the metal saya really is. Rust every were. It was untouched since the war, but there was no care for the metal parts. The blade is in very good condition.


Now the work starts. What to do with it? Looking for another saya? The sword has a deep sori. Hard to find another. So i bring it next day to a metalworker and ask him how to treat it. He look on it and see a rust hole on the end of the saya. We remove the coloring, he sanded it with a sandblower carefully inside and remove the rust outside from hand with sandpaper. Then he made a sheet metal piece and weld it carefully on the end. After this he slur it clean.


I went home helpless for the next step. After taking a shower i cook some rice to care for the wooden inlet. It is very thin and light so this was more an operation than a restore. I clean the inner parts of the wood and start to make riceglue. I took some ricepaper and cut it into stripes. I glue the wooden parts and wrap the glued ricepaper around the critical places. On wendsday the wooden saya was hard and i was happy. On work i phoned with a car restauration specialist for the basic color of the saya. I sent him some pictures and he said that this structure color is a old nitro structure paint. He could make me a spraying bottle and sent it with express. I payed only 10 EUR for the bottle, what a luck. He gave me some advise to spray it slightly to controll the texture. I recieved it on Thursday and start with coloring the basic paint an Friday. 


Today i finished with airbrush the olive, braun color on the saya. Later is sprayed a satin matt finish. In the evening i resampled all the saya parts together. I was thinking to alter it but i do it not. It should not blame the sword. It is restored. 


After the completation this evening i was happy to do it so. The sword fits now like it should. The blade is protected now and and the koshirae looks well. I learned that it is not good in every case to leave it as it is all the way. Sometimes you must start to do something. 


I missed to make photos from the condition and the steps. I must say that i was also a little in panic, because the sword wasn't cheap and i was fearing to touch it. But if you go in small steps the result will be good.


gendaito_koshirae_before.jpg  saya_1.jpg saya_2.jpg


This photo i made some hours ago with flash. It looks better in real light.


gendaito_koshirae_small.jpg  koshirae_texture.jpg


This should not be an advise from a amateur to do so. And i know that some wil be very critical with me that i treat it in that way. But in the end the Saya and maybe the blade would be destroyed by time.


Thanks for reading



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#2 Bruce Pennington

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 01:34 AM

That's a fabulous job Chris! I keep most of mine in original condition, but I've had to strip a couple (gold and black "Bubba" paint) and repaint one.

Very rewarding feeling to restore one.
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    Sai Jo Saku

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 02:15 AM



You carefully preserved it for the future, leaving things as is would have guaranteed future deterioration, excellent work!




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#4 Ooitame


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Posted 16 December 2018 - 03:39 AM

Job well done.
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#5 Stephen



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Posted 16 December 2018 - 04:54 AM

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                         Stephen C. USMC DEC 63 APR 73


Asked "Why are you always in such a foul mood?" "Experience !" Says I

#6 Stegel


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Posted 16 December 2018 - 05:00 AM

Top Job !! with excellent result.


As it's winter over there, you can now sit back proudly and enjoy a shnaps or two!

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#7 paul griff

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 08:18 AM

Hello Chris,
Well done,superb job..
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#8 Dave R

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 10:00 AM

 Well done! Thanks for sharing this, you have saved the sword.

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#9 Brian



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Posted 16 December 2018 - 10:38 AM

Nice job!

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#10 EdWolf


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Posted 16 December 2018 - 11:04 AM

Nice job! Good skills, the paint looks very good.
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#11 vajo



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Posted 16 December 2018 - 01:31 PM

Thanks all for the kind words.


I see some very difficult problems in restoring a Gunto. The inner wood saya should be newly made, but if have no clue how they made this very thin inlet and fit it exactly for the metal saya.

The second one is the wet looking drop texture. I found different acryl based paint textures like that modern chinese saya. But all this have very big drops. Not that fine round ones like the Japanese lacquers so i decide for the rough one which is seen on some saya (mostly under the leather sheath.

The third problem is the color. The urushi lacquer brings a deep looking and smooth feeling in hand. 


I have a lot of respect for the craftmanship of these military Koshirae. We see and handle it often but when the original beauty is gone it is nearly impossible for a none professional to restore it like the old ones.

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Posted 16 December 2018 - 02:08 PM

Hi, color from a previous post.  

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#13 tokashikibob


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Posted 18 December 2018 - 04:00 AM

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#14 Mister Gunto

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Posted 13 January 2019 - 10:55 AM

Great work!
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Bradley S. 

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