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Northman

Does polishing absolve all sins?

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Bit of a sarcastic title I know...

 

Certainly the work of a polisher can only do so much, but I’m wondering if folks have any stories of miracle work done by polishing? It can go a long way to remove some light oxidization etc, but what are the limits of a good polish job?

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A tired or bad blade. There is no real guarantee of a blade coming out better than before in all instances. No telling what's beneath the surface.

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I've had togishi turn blah blades into papered ones, but I was fairly careful in choosing a decent blade to start with. Miracles? None so far.

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All a polish can really do is clean up a blade, you can only uncover what's there. Material obviously can't be added back in.

 

With many other forms of art a restorer has a lot more options. A canvas which is split can be rejoined, cracked paint can be filled in and loose paint can be bonded down; you can add to the painting to repair areas of loss and damage. In that field, I have seen some restorations that I would consider to be bordering on 'miraculous'.

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There are MANY cases of blades that looked like a total write-off coming back as magnificent swords worthy of Juyo. It is amazing to see some of the before and after pics, and I'm hoping some will post some. Blades that were destined for the scrap heap, now papered and in full polish. That is why we advocate professional polishing and evaluation.

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The Ko-wakazashi by Yasumitsu described in a paper in the articles section and now residing in the Royal armouries, was written off by two very expereinced collectors. They urged the then owner "not to waste his money on trying to have it polished." In the words of one of them it had been used as a kitchen knife, then a garden tool and then played with by grandchildren “ it looked like a blackened blade from a pair of serrated garden shears”.

Thankfully the original owner insisted on it going to Japan and being polished by Kotoken Kajihara and the result is fantastic.

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Speaking of no polish is better than a bad polish...I know times and tastes change, but not for me (yes I know, I am Piltdown Man), but I genuinely have a strong dislike of the current hadori style of polish. I feel something is "wrong" when swords are adverised for sale with 50 slanted pics in a strong beam of light because we can't see the true hamon from the side-on in ordinary light. The ordinary side-on view showing the true hamon can now be only achieved by publishing the the blade's oshigata. Because of this I have consciously refrained from having several of my WWII gendaito polished as I would rather see the original WWII polish (usually sashikomi) even with scratches and smudges than have all that beauty erased by the modern hadori style polish.

So may I ask a question...is it possible to get the pre-1945 style sashikomi polish done today?

I am not intending to offend...this is just an old geezer's opinion.

Regards,

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It’s possible. It’s also one step before the hadori.

 

However it is appropriate only for a few types of blades, ichimonji in choji comes to mind.

 

And then it’s impossible to capture on camera properly.

 

There isn’t a cookie-cutter polishing style which is better for everything. Each blade has a « best in class » polish and Tanobe-Sensei would be the best for advice.

 

Even within schools of polishers, honami, fujishiro, etc, there are flavors or ways to do the polish which will gives different impression and result at the end. For instance, mishina’s hadori heavy style is best for Shinto blades, whereas Dodo-san does miracle on Bizen I’ve heard. Can be training, artistic take, but it can also be rare stones.

 

Polishers aren’t interchangeable. They’re artists in their own right hand and are very much inseparable from the final product. So it’s not just « hadori vs shashikomi » but rather the process of choosing an artist for a particular piece of work, with all his peculiarities and sensibilities.

 

I think the bad rep in the West from hadori is there because we’ve been exposed to cheap and misleading hadori jobs due to excessive bargain hunting.

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Wanted to share a blade I found in horrible condition. Just got the blade back from Moses. I only reason I had it polished was the shape was so different and I have a soft spot for Mishina blades. The blade has sudare ba on one side.

 

Enjoy

Charlie

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Stuart, do you have a blade with a specific problem? If so, please post photos, & we can try to advise you.

 

Hi Ken, I don't have a specific blade in mind.  That said, part of the reason I ask is to get a better sense of "what can be done" (within reason) with some of the "project blades" I've had my eye on.  There are lots of good project Wakizashis out there for a reasonable price, just seems they require a bit of TLC.  Obviously, some are not worth putting the resources into for a variety of reasons, but some can see quite the transformation.

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Hi Ken, I don't have a specific blade in mind.  That said, part of the reason I ask is to get a better sense of "what can be done" (within reason) with some of the "project blades" I've had my eye on.  There are lots of good project Wakizashis out there for a reasonable price, just seems they require a bit of TLC.  Obviously, some are not worth putting the resources into for a variety of reasons, but some can see quite the transformation.

 

For instance, the type of wear on the kissaki in this attached image...

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I'd like to see the rest of that blade, but based on the kissaki/boshi alone, I agree that it could use some togishi TLC. Just remember that it can cost up to $100/inch, when it comes to recovering your investment.

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Unrelated, Charlie in your last photo, in the background is what looks like a gunto with yellow handle wrapping, is that the case? If it is, love to see some photos. 

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I have never had a sword polished, but I have removed varnish, grease and thick, active rust from a sword bwfore to find the blade below in far better condition than hoped.

 

Here are the before shots. I will post after shots tonight.

 

Also some polish porn for the kicks...

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