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    Nihonto (historical and shinsakuto)
    Koshirae restoration
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    Keren W
  1. Tung oil is not a paint coat, it doesn't smooth the surface but merely cleans it up for subsequent lacquering. The main challenge with 3 coats of urushi isn't smoothness of the finish per se, but rather the solidness of the finishing color. As I said, three coats of urushi would still appear quasi-transparent.
  2. It really depends... I wish I could give you a straightforward estimation but working with traditional urushi is really anything but straightforward. In order to determine how much lacquer you might need, you must first consider the fact that urushi is actually not a "paint" per se -- it's a plant resin with properties much more similar to mixed epoxy rather than ordinary paint. Urushi doesn't "dry" like normal paint, it slowly cures via an oxidation process with H2O molecules in the air (at 80% humidity level, 78F stable condition). This also means that urushi is quite transparent, even when mixed with pigments. For each urushi layer, you must dilute the lacquer with turpentine at a desirable ratio. Experienced urushi craftsmen often work with "thicker" urushi, typically equal part of lacquer and turp. This reduces the total layers required, but thickly-mixed urushi is much more difficult to work with, requires specialized brushes and exceptional control, and may not cure properly w/o specially constructed muro (curing room). Less-experienced users typically start with thinly diluted urushi, at least 1 part urushi 2 parts turp, but this would require many more coat in order to achieve a solid colored finish. Based on my experience with traditional urushi, you would not be able to achieve solid color finish with "1 coat of red and 2 coats of black", the result would be quasi-transparent, and after the third coat you would still see the red undercoat and even wood grains underneath. If you're fine with that, then three 100g tubes should be enough. But if you want to achieve solid-color finish, you would need at least 10+ coats (traditional saya finish contains approx. 20+ coats of urushi), and that would make your project quite expensive...
  3. I'd recommend Meijiro's "Shu-no-moto (朱の元)" urushi, it's very close to the traditional vermilion color, and I believe it doesn't contain the toxic mercury sulfide. Meijiro sell their pre-mixed urushi in small tubes, so it avoids the oxidation problem.
  4. Are you using Cashew lacquer or traditional urushi (from Chinese lacquer tree)? Traditional urushi by default only comes in two varietals: ki-urushi ("raw" unprocessed lacquer) and suki-urushi ("clear" processed lacquer), and you get all the other colors by mixing pigments with suki-urushi at the time of painting in order to avoid oxidation. There are only very few pigments mix well with traditional urushi, and vermilion is obtained by mixing cinnabar pigment powder first with de-gummed turpentine, and then with suki-urushi. (Cinnabar is mercury sulfide powder and can be toxic, extreme caution is advised. If you're brave enough to use it, I'd recommend you get the high-quality Zhu sha (朱砂)cinnabar powder from traditional Chinese medicine supplier)
  5. Thanks! I originally planned to finish this saya in black with red urushi undercoats, but now you've mentioned it I think I'll just finish the saya in vermilion instead. BTW I just finished making the tsuka for the Masanao blade, so here are some updated photos for my WIP koshirae project:
  6. Now you mention it I realized I didn't take much photos of my past projects since I'm not running a commercial operation, but here are some pics of my current WIP projects I just took: Habaki for my Minamoto Masanao katana blade: WIP Saya for the Masanao blade, currently in red oxide urushi underlayers: Finished habaki for a wakizashi blade: Work-in-progress shirasaya: WIP shirasaya for Naikai Taro Masataka katana blade: Self-made urushi brush from friend's donated hair:
  7. I did not perform any restoration work on the wakizashi listed above, this sword is still in the same condition as when it first received NBTHK paper. Or do you mean you want to see images of my other restoration projects?
  8. Yes of course, if it is within my ability range and time allows.
  9. I work with a Japanese collegue who recovers neglected heirloom blades from Japan. I perform mostly mounting reatoration works, e.g. making habaki, replacement seppa and shirasaya for those old blades w/o viable koshirae. I also perform traditional urushi lacquering jobs occasionally.
  10. A NBTHK Hozon Wakizashi sword from personal collection for sale. This sword comes with its official NBTHK judgement paper. Mumei but the NBTHK attributes the blade to Bungo TAKADA (豊後高田) smiths, from late Muromachi period (c. 1558 - 1570) I believe. This sword is in good polish and overall health blade condition. The blade remains in good shape, and its suguha hamon and steel grains are clearly visible. There are only a couple of minor kizu (one small fukure, few light oxidation spots, and few surface scratches) detectable, but the blade is of course free of hagire or any major flaws (see attached pics). This sword comes with its own Shirasaya mountings. Nagasa is 52.7cm (20.76 inches). Total length while in shirasaya is 79.5cm (31.5). The blade weighs 750g (1.65 lbs). Asking price $2,500 USD or best offer. You may make your offer via my ebay listing page: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Authentic-Japanese-sword-w-NBTHK-judgement-paper-Bungo-Takada-wakizashi/272629139341 Or email me at: kuw148@psu.edu (Sword pics taken with my cellphone camera, please forgave my lackluster photography skill) Front side of the blade: Backside: Kissaki region, front and back: Nakago: NBTHK judgement paper (held against window light to show its watermark security feature): Blade in shirasaya:
  11. Would you mind telling me more on those big differences you noticed? Sorry I am relatively inexperienced, so any info would be valuable learning experience for me.
  12. Thanks for the links! I did a quick nakago comparison between my blade and the tachi from your first link, it appears that the two share very similar nakago shape and mei calligraphy style (see pic below):
  13. Thanks for the tip! Is there anyway to tell if my blade is a Gimei?
  14. Greetings from a new and inexperienced nihonto enthusiast here! Just wanted to share a few pic of my recently acquired shinsakuto blade, and would like to seek some help with the mei inscriptions. So here's the whole blade, a gendaito or shinsakuto katana blade with an impressive 2.6shaku (30.5in) nagasa. Sorry I am not very good at taking photos, the flash on the camera made the Choji hamon pattern look way more intense than it actually appears... Here's a couple photos of the hamon under more natural lighting conditions. Please correct me if I'm wrong, it seems that this blade is polished with a traditional sashikomi finish (as opposed to the hadori finish more commonly seen in contemporary blades): The blade features a fine wood-grain Ji-nie pattern, and Chu-kissaki: There are several surface scratches on the blade, and a chipped area on the cutting edge. Otherwise I haven't noticed any other major flaws: Here's the nakago of the blade, with a mei that I don't really recognize. Based on my rusty kanji knowledge and some internet research, I think the mei reads "Oite Bushuu Takakura Minamoto Juou (於武州高倉源寿王):
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