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Flaw In Blade/polishing Issue...relocate Mune Machi?


Taz575
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I picked up a cheap wak on Ebay for $400.  I knew it had some rust spots and a flaw where the steel grain looks strange pattern wise.  I knew this going into it, but it had a cool hamon to it that was different than my other blades for for $400, I was willing to take the chance!  Ad said it was professionally polished (not quite!  Yokote line points in different directions on each side of the blade, area near a ware was flattened out thru polishing?) and supposedly the dealer said it was a Kanemoto blade (fat chance!), but the rusting doesn't look like an issue.  Tang is mumei, but may be suriage?   Hamon looks like sanbonsugi, which I was looking for. 

 

I was looking for a wak to build up as a archery/hunting theme and one of my spots is in a stand of old cedar trees!  My 2nd Ebay wak if you guys remember is somewhat of a toranba hamon like ocean waves, so that one will probably get built up with a fishing/ocean theme.  First wak was a wild hamon, wide and fat blade (like me) and theme is night time/stars.  4 nephews, oldest gets the 1st wak (he was always asking where I was because I worked 3rd shift and didn't get to see him much).  2nd loves to fish like I do, so he has the fishing/ocean theme one.  3rd likes animals, so the hunting one goes to him.  Need to figure out the 4th still, but he is only 19 months, so I still have time!  Each of the blades has a flaw, but are still interesting blades (kinda like telling them they don't have to be perfect). 

 

Back to this sword.

 

So the wak came in, rust doesn't look like an issue to have polished out.  Nice hamon and nice hatakiri, can't want for the polish! Blade is the shortest and lightest of the 3, feels very nimble, not much sori, either.  Narrower than the other two I believe and less taper, but I need to get some measurements.  Tang looks darker patina wise, so it may be the oldest of the 3 so far.

 

Overall blade shot.  These are the sellers pics from Ebay, mine I took didn't turn out as good yesterday, will retry over the next few days.

W43.jpg

 

Ware Pic:

W41.jpg

 

So when I checked out the kizu in this pic when I had the sword in hand, I saw someone had polished almost all of the Niku out of the blade trying to remove the ware, so the blade side flattens out there for a bit.  It's about 1" or so in front of the end of the habaki.  The grain is masame there and I don't see core steel showing thru at all, but it's really flattened.  A hair of niku at the actual edge and shingi, but almost dead flat in that area only.  The rest of the blade shows a good bit of niku actually!  Mokume swirls are seen elsewhere in the hada, but with the cloudy polish, it's hard to be 100%.

 

Hamon pic:

W42.jpg

 

I was reading the post on Kanemoto O Wakizashi recently and looked up some of the characteristics of Kanemoto, which somewhat match up to the blade I have (was the seller actually telling the truth on Ebay??).  Kinda of a sanbonsugi, but not strictly every 3 is tall, rounded ends, masame and mokume hada.  This got me thinking.

 

I believe the blade is already shortened:  straight kiri, the kasane looks to be thicker farther back on the nagasa than the current mune machi, no ha machi visible, etc).  My original plan was to have the mune machi moved forward a bit so the habaki would cover the flat spot on the blade (or most of it) and possibly trim the nakago back and redrill.  From what I am thinking, even if it is a Kanemoto, with the flaw like that in the polishing where it is flattened out like it is, there isn't much collector value since there are better examples in much better condition, but I wanted to run it past the group here first.

 

Would moving the munemachi forward to hide/cover the flaw make sense for a sword with this purpose (study sword for me for now, not resale/collector value, more sentimental value/pass down to nephews later on), or just leave it as is?  I wouldn't be doing the work myself, but would go out to be done the right way!  Or have it polished to get a better idea of the blade itself, and then make the choice of shortening? 

 


 

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Tim

dont be in a rush to shorten the sword. Let a proffessional polisher, or at least a reputable dealer take a look at it and see what they say and advise.

The board seems to have gone Kanemoto mad at present. For what it is worth I would doubt that attribution. Nothing to do with the hamon, the detail of which isn't very clear in the images, but the hada seems to have strong masame elements running through it which dont automatically point to later mino work (I dont think) More likely one of the Waki schools who worked in the provinces and picked up on many Mino trends. The appraent darkness of some of the steel might point to one of the northern province schools.

I would certainly think it worth putting in the hands of someone with more expereince and get another opinion or even two or three. Once you have that you can make an infrormed judgement on what to do next.

Good luck with your projects

Regards

Paul

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That's the Ebay listing for it.  That is all the info I have to go on for it.  I sent the seller a message to see if they have any other info/paperwork about it, so thanks for that idea!  Got it mainly for the hamon pattern like my other 2 Ebay waks.

 

The polish condition makes it hard to see the hamon/activity, so I want to get it cleaned up polish wise at least to see more of the activity; should look great polished!  I wasn't sure if the flat spot would make it more difficult to polish it since it kinda flattens out.  The kissaki isn't all that well polished, and the yokote line is angled in different directions, so I don't think it was "professionally polished" as the ad claims, especially with the kizu area issue!

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Interesting info!  I heard back from the seller, bought from Japan, no papers, gun show sword guy thought it was Kanemoto, so I am going to basically ignore that theory!  Prob saw the sanbonsugi and went to the most famous maker.  I noticed all of the Kanemoto posts recently and decided to look in to it; some fits, some doesn't. 

 

Forgot to mention, I used my uchiko ball on this a few times and the hamon/hada is a bit more clear each time I do so, so I will do a few more and try to get better pics.  Under the rust flecks/spotting, the blade is very polished; shinogi ji is highly burnished.  When I first got it, the hamon didn't really pop even with an older incadescent light bulb, after the uchiko treatment, the hamon pops under the incandescent light like it should. 

 

I am debating sending it to Japan via Kunitaro for a check up, polish, maybe habaki and shirasaya and shinsa if it looks good for it.  Since I only have $400 into this one, I think it is interesting enough to take some time and $$ to get it checked out in Japan.  I was going to use one of the US polishers, but this one may need a trip overseas.

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Ok.  For me, the money spent on a better polish to remove the rust and see the activity better (the existing polish is shiny, but has issues: ripples down the hamon line where the hard and soft steels meet, yokote is wonky, kissaki is badly done, etc) is worth it since that is the whole reason to buying this blade.  The wood habaki doesn't hold the blade end of the shirasaya on at all; it just falls off, so I want to get that re done with a real metal habaki and have that fit better to the shirasaya.  I could shim the saya I guess?  If I don't shorten anything, Habaki/Polish isn't too bad; shortening the blade would mean new shirasaya as well, which adds to the cost, so I am leaning to keeping the flaw there and not trying to cover it (leave it in original condition, just have it polished, metal Habaki maybe?).

 

I was going to use Josiah Boomershine in the US for the polish and habaki issue since that is less hassle than the Japanese overseas paperwork route.  Polish and habaki IMHO aren't options (which is why I didn't go high on the bidding!), the option is who to go to.  It would at least let me get a better idea of the features of the sword so I could decide which way to go.  I will see if I can shim up the saya opening a bit to make the habaki fit tighter.

 

Since I can't see much hada/hamon/boshi in this blade in the current condition, but from what little I can see, it's very nice!  It's difficult to kantei to see if it's worth the money or not for the Japanese route due to the state of the blade.  With the flaw, I am leaning towards no, but I wanted to check here first since people here have more experience than I do and I don't want to send a high end blade to a non traditional polisher in the US for work like this and find out later I really botched a high end blade.

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Hi Tim,

I suspect this will fall on deaf ears (since it has already).  Don't spend any more money on this blade (never should have bought it in the first place).  If you want to spend money restoring a sword find a better sword to restore.  Anything spent on this sword will be lost when the sword is next sold (and it will get sold someday); it is too far gone.

Grey

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Tim,

 

I am with Stephen on this one. By the time all said and done, you will have put at least $1500 more into this wakizashi. The total of $1500+$400 could get you a nice, signed, flawless,

papered wakizashi in koshirae. Save your money!

 

Hoanh

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I understand what you guys are saying and I appreciate it.  No trip to Japan then.

 

HXV, I got the Shigekuni Wak from Yakiba this weekend for $2K, signed, papered and with Koshirae and Shirasaya because the seller wanted to move it fast; price was originally $3500 :)  I usually browse several sites besides Ebay (Nihonto.us, Nihontoantiques, Ricecracker, AoiJapan, Japanesesword.com, Nihonto.com, etc) almost daily to look for items around the $2K mark.  It's rare to find a papered, signed, no flaws wak in Koshirae that does not need a polish at the 2K mark from what I have seen over the past few months.  Most are around 3-4K.  There are some mumei non papered waks under 2K, but most need at least a finish polish, if not more and aren't signed/papered/flawless.  Any other sites I should add to my daily view list??

 

Like my first 2 ebay waks, I was looking for a cheap wak to invest a little into to get it polished where the hamon/hada was interesting to me and different than my current study blades.  This one fit the bill for me.  I will get it polished eventually so I can see more of the activity because that is why I got it in the first place, but will keep it otherwise as is. It may only need a final polish to let me see the activity better; I am not trying to return it to a pristine shape and repair each flaw/spot.  The Shigekuni Wak will be my first "real" collectors type blade. 

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Hoanh said it all :)

 

I have a very good friend (who is on the board) who sent me a link for an auction and was tempted to bid. Estimated price 1800/2200€.

 

http://www.ader-paris.fr/html/fiche.jsp?id=6079060

 

Fancy description

 

I told him to compute/calculate the ultimate price after restoration.

 

In your opinion what is the final price for restoration and papering of this blade?

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For my blade?  I am not going for a full restore/papering, but I am guessing over 5K is what to expect for a papering $600 at least with shipping, registration, fees, etc), polish ($2K) and koshirae ($3K from Unique Japan) from Japan.  I was debating it when some features pointed to a higher smith and reading on here about not sending a good blade to a US self trained polisher.  I was thinking a real Japanese Master Togi would be able to look at the blade currently and the kizu and make a better decision/evaluation than I could about where to go from here with it and what my options were if it was a higher end blade to have it taken care of correctly rather than send it to someone non Japanese trained in the US and have it trashed.  When you read about US polishers on the forum, basically everyone says if they weren't trained in Japan, they are good for gendaito or showato only and not older blades.  Since this may be an older blade and from the little I can see in the blade in person (very difficult for me to photograph), I was considering taking advantage of Kunitaro's service and have it sent to Japan for a better look and evaluation and go from there if it warranted it.  If I can get the blade cleaned up and the tarnish off, I would debate getting a modern koshirae done for it to pass down to my nephews, but that would be many years away!  If people on here thought it was a decent blade and may be worth it to take the time and effort to have it checked out professionally in Japan, I was OK with that since I don't have much money invested in it currently.  A trip there and back for an eval wouldn't kill my budget and would give me a better idea of how to proceed from here to prevent myself from messing up a very good blade if that was the case.  But that doesn't seem to be the way to go, which is why I wanted to check in to that before doing it.

 

There is little contrast visible in the polish between jigane and hagane, which make pictures hard to show what I can see in proper lighting.  In hand and the right light, I like what I can see, which is limited.  The rust isn't deep or red; its more age tarnish and most can't be felt.  A final stage type polish, like Hofhine does for under $600, would most likely let me see the hamon much better and the differences between jigane and hagane so I could study the blade more.  From what I can see, the hamon is a nice, thick, soft nioi guchi and has kinsuji/inazuma down at least 2/3 of the length of the blade, some parts has multiple lines of it from what I can see currently.  There is lots of ko ashi, too.  For me, for a study type blade, I will usually go up to $1000 for one in shirasaya, $1500 in decent Koshirae.  Since I am $400 in to this one only, I have some extra to get it cleaned up as from what I can see in hand that is difficult to see in the pics, it will be very nice when polished, but will most likely get done by a US polisher, not a real Japanese one to stay in my budget.  I wanted to get several "study blades" to start with and several books before I jump in deeper and wanted to have at least 4 real Wakizashi to pass down to my nephews when they turn 18, and still have blades left for me to enjoy.  The Shigekuni Wak this weekend was a bit earlier than I had planned on getting into a worthy blade, but it was in my budget and I loved the activity I could see in it.  It will also show me a great polish and I can compare that to the others I have here.

 

A couple of thin strips of masking tape on the mune side of the saya mouth did wonders for tightening the fit up, so that problem is solved for about $.01.

 

HXV, I would be interested, but with the Shigekuni Wak purchase, property taxes, and a week of training I need to go to next month, I need another couple of months of behaving spending wise before I could spring for your blade!  You can PM me some info, but I gotta get some $$ saved up first.

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Hey Tim; I'm the "other guy" with a kanemoto. :) I saw this blade when it was on Ebay; the price was nice but as they say, you get what you pay for.

 

I certainly think it has the right shape to be a late Koto Mino School blade but I suspected it was one of those mass-produced (kazu-uchimono) swords from the Muromachi period that was cut down into a "budget Wakizashi" later on. If so it would have very little value to a serious collector even in excellent condition and when the sword is hacked down to Wakizashi size and just plain worn out with a bad polish (could just be because it was too far gone before the polisher had a go at it) it has no value at all.

 

Granted that's for serious collectors; for us "normal" people it's still a bona-fide piece of Samurai history and very well could have marched with Nobunaga's army or been swung around at Sekigahara.

 

Bottom line, no amount of money thrown at the sword will make it better per se... it will only take away from the historic fabric of the artifact. The sword is what it is but not all value is monetary either! It's still an uncommon piece of history and worth preserving, warts and all. And if you feel bad about what you paid, go price chinese clones; what you paid will buy you a mid-range reproduction Wak but for the same money you got a REAL one. :)

 

I'd like to see more pictures though, I'm curious about it...

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Tim,

If you are dead set on restoring it (and people are welcome to do that, as long as they know the pitfalls and the fact that they will probably lose money) then I suggest waiting for the next US shinsa, and submitting it for an opinion. If it comes back with a decent result, then take it from there. A US shinsa is not expensive, just takes some patience.

Many people spend more money on a sword than they will get back when they sell it. Sometime the piece has sentimental value, sometimes they just have a little extra disposable income. I don't think there is anything wrong with that, provided they have been given all the advice above and are ok with that.

 

Brian

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Brian and others, I appreciate the honest info.  I know polishing it isn't worth it in your guys opinions, but from what I can see and the purpose of the blade to me, at least a finish polish is worth it to see the structures better.  My original concern was that I didn't want to have a high end blade messed up even more than it was currently if it had a decent chance at a high end blade.  I don't think this one is.  Moving the mne machi forward would have covered the polishing issue (don't care about the kizu, but with being flat, it would be difficult for the next polisher to polish the remainder of the blade).  I didn't want to do that to a high end blade.  Probably still won't since it would need some new fitting at that point, too.

 

I wish I could get better pictures for you guys.  The Ebay pics are with a coating of dried oil and when I first got it, the hamon wouldn't even pop under the right lighting.  Once I got most of that dried oil layer off, the hamon pops nicely in the lighting, but there isn't much contrast that is able to be seen between the hamon and hada unless the lighting is perfect.  Taking a picture is even harder. 

 

I was hoping for a wak with a sanbonsugi hamon, which it is and a different hada than what I had currently.  I have some extra disposable income and have been wanting to get examples of different hamons, different hada, different hataraki, different schools, etc for my study blades.  So it fits that purpose and is worth it to me to have it cleaned up a little so I can see the hamon and hada better. Full restoration, no.  

 

I took some measurements last night of it.  26mm wide at the munemachi, ha machi is barely present still.  Shinogi is 7mm thick, kasane is 6.3mm thick.  At the kissaki, 4.3mm kasane, just under 19mm wide.  Weight is 432 grams, Nagasa is around 43.7cm.  Sori is just over 1cm, looks to be tori sori.  The nagasa gets thicker as it gets closer to the kasane, goes to over 7.5mm at the shinogi before it tapers back near the mekugi ana. 

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If you have a little extra funding right now, you should really consider some of the current dirt cheap offerings here, such as this one http://www.militaria.co.za/nmb/topic/19684-koto-naginatanaoshi-wakizashi-in-koshirae/or this one http://www.militaria.co.za/nmb/topic/19819-project-gendaito-wakizashi-for-sale/

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Thanks Bruno,

 

So 2300€. I have to add auction fees, let say 20%. New amount is 2760€. I have to add the polishing, 1500€, a shirasaya as it is out of question to put a new polish blade in an old saya full of bad things (dry oil, dirt...) and further more splited, so let say 600€ more. Now the saya has to be fixed and lacquered at least 750€. Handling packaging for Japan, local agent, shinsa... Let say another 750$.

 

Total 6360€ Roughly 760 000¥

 

For this price without any hassle, waiting list you can have at once:

 

http://www.aoijapan.com/katana-mumei-ko-mihara-4

http://www.aoijapan.com/katana-unshu-ju-tadayoshi-tsukuru-2nd-generation-mukansa

http://www.aoijapan.com/katana-bishu-osafune-morimitsu-sakusue-bizen

http://www.aoijapan.com/katana-hizen-koku-minamoto-munetsugu

http://www.aoijapan.com/katana-edagiku-oumi-kami-minamoto-hisamichi2nd

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I did check out the naginatanaoshi, but it didn't appeal to me; I like interesting Hamon/Hataraki/Hada.  The other wasn't listed when I got this one, but looks to be in worse shape than mine polish wise when I looked at it quickly on my phone, need to look at the pics on a computer with a bigger screen.

 

I may even just have a window or two opened on this blade to study and not even have the entire blade polished.  That way it's not a lot of extra money to invest in it so I can study it and enjoy it, it will let me know if it's worth it to polish more and how much polishing it will need so I can determine what to do.  That will most likely be step 1, window polish.

 

I've been eying a few on AoiJapan; I wanted that wak they had for 100,000 Yen that was signature unconfirmed, but it got put on hold by the first time I saw it.  I was about to get Mumei-7 on there (Showa blade with nice hamon that needed a polish), but went to the Shigekuni instead, which tapped me out last weekend and now that one is on hold, too.  The classifieds here is a multiple time a day check in for me; there are some awesome deals there!!!   

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Hi Tim,

 

If you are interested in a cheaper wakizashi and don't find a flaw an over detractor I have one I'd sell you. It's in polish so ready for study and display, though there are a few scuffs and scratches. I asked for assistance in the following thread as I was not able to ID it myself:

 

http://www.militaria.co.za/nmb/topic/17184-mumei-shinto-wakizashi/

 

Great hada, interesting hamon; a really nice blade. However, it does have a small umegane about an inch from the kissaki. Such a shame. I'm not honestly sure what a fair price would be but I'd ask $800. If someone more experienced in pricing thinks that's unreasonable please tell me!!!!

 

Anyway, I offer because you've paid $400 for some Wak that need a lot of expensive work, so in comparison this seems like a much better option.

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That is a beautiful blade and an awesome deal!  Unfortunately, I am tapped out at the moment after the Shigekuni I got from Ed recently and need to rebuild funds, otherwise I would be snapping up yours in a heartbeat!!

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