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broken nakago repair


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picked up a mumei tanto recently. it came with koshirae. the photos did not have the broken piece of nakago, but i found it wedged inside the tsuka. it is a clean break just on the edge of the mekugi ana. i am thinking of using jb weld in a small amount between the two pieces. once dried, i think it will be sufficient for inside the tsuka. would there be a better recommendation for repair? i do not wish to physically weld on it. 

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i considered reshaping the nakago and moving the habaki forward myself, but then i found the extra piece. i know people have some strong standards on how these are handled. why would epoxy be offensive? the reason i considered it was the fact it can be removed without damage later.

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14 minutes ago, 16k said:

I’ll be honest with you Greg, I don’t think it is worth saving. :(

 

 

thats why i chose this one. i knew it was bad. perfect to do simple work on. i have many years of hand tool experience. grew up around mechanics and pipe fitters. also done some gunsmithing, antique restoration, several other  things over the years. i believe i wont destroy it, no matter what decision i go with.

 

i am not easily offended. be as blunt as you wish. :)

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There would be no reason to attempt a repair on this; only trained professionals should ever do work on antique nihonto. By attempting anything resembling restoration work on metal components, one would be crossing a line here with this community that is severely frowned upon.

 

My advice? Get a shadow box, pin it up inside of it in pieces to show it as sort of a 'diagram' piece. It'd probably look interesting as a presentation piece in that format. I have a heavily rusted cut wakizashi that I've dipped most of in Evapo-rust (thank you to Brian for that suggestion!) to remove the thick accretion on the blade (except the nakago) and I plan to stick it in a long shadow box as a nice wall piece. Broken pieces are pretty nice for that sort of purpose, since there's no hope of restoration.

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Do you think this is an antique? i didnt think it was that old. i have already done the active rust removal. i used oil and a nylon brush to remove the red rust before putting the blade portion on a stone to remove the corrosion build up. took about 10 minutes. the finish coating it has protected a lot of the metal.

 

 

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The blade was/is antique. I won't reply further on what you're doing or the blade itself. Its frowned upon to do any sort of metal work or comment on it as it can be seen as encouraging others to do it as well. Proper togishi go through an apprenticeship that takes ten years or so, any work should be left to them in my opinion. Sorry!

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2 minutes ago, ChrisW said:

The blade was/is antique. I won't reply further on what you're doing or the blade itself. Its frowned upon to do any sort of metal work or comment on it as it can be seen as encouraging others to do it as well. Proper togishi go through an apprenticeship that takes ten years or so, any work should be left to them in my opinion. Sorry!

 

 

no offense taken. i appreciate honest replies. thats the only way to change perspectives. other than reattaching the nakago, i had no further alteration plans for the blade. i understand keeping it close to original as possible. however, i bought it listed as junk. i didnt think collectors would even consider it.

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Greg,

what you have there looks like a late 19th blade, made for tourists. The shape, especially that of the tang, lets me believe so. If I am right in my assessment, it has little value, the more as it is damaged and cannot be handled without risk of injury.

But after a repair, it may make for a display piece. There are experts (ask a modern gunsmith) with specialized equipment who could weld that NAKAGO while cooling the rest, so no damage would occur to the blade itself. After welding, the expert could file the tang even, restore the filing pattern on the tang, and apply some gun brown to make the repair (almost) invisible.  Then it could be remounted with a MEKUGI (bamboo pin).

Generally, I would never encourage to repair Japanese weapons with methods of that kind, but in this case I think nothing would be damaged or lost. The alternative would be to put it away and never look at it again.

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the epoxy i mentioned, jb weld, is a cold weld epoxy. it creates a very strong metal on metal bond. proper application should render it about 95%+ invisible. would only need applied to the flats between the pieces. there is enough of a hook on the mekugi ana to hold the blade in the tsuka without the rear piece. thats why i am thinking it would be the best way to go. the corrosion levels on the blade and nakago had me thinking even later than that. maybe the 30s or 40s. its mostly surface corrosion with mild pitting.

 

*edit - now that i think about it, i was judging the rust levels on what occurs in my area. i have know idea where this has resided before california. its hot, humid, coastal air here. makes everything corrode quickly.

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Greg,

the contact area is way too small for a good bond, and in fact, there is no such thing as 'cold weld'. This is just a marketing phrase. With epoxy, you can achieve up to about 200 kg/cm2 tensile strength, while this steel may be about 1.000 kg/cm2. You could glue that, it is simple, but it would not allow the use of a MEKUGI and remain a damaged blade.

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why does that not surprise me? everything is for marketing. :) either way, i am a fan of jb for metal. the mekugi currently holds it in the tsuka, but i dont swing it about. it will always remain a broken blade. i just like the idea of it being a single piece again.

 

thanks for all the responses so far. thats why i posted here. im 45 but still love to learn.

 

this is my current wall mount idea using just one plank. these are sycamore planks i cut about 5 months ago from a several hundred year old tree in my dads yard. a large branch broke off during a hurricane. i will probably put 100 coats of tung oil on it. maybe then clear plastic hooks to hold the blade. will probably add a mekugi ana to display a mekugi with it.

 

 

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I wonder if that Nakago broke while someone was trying to hammer a makeshift mekugi into there?

 

There is a very fine method of laser welding that could satisfy your requirements. It's not 100% perfect aesthetically, but pretty damn good, and it should hold well enough to satisfy your requirements.

 

WARNING to collectors. Not recommended or endorsed for anything other than such emergency repairs as above. 

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IF it were to be repaired, TIG welding would be what I would recommend, while keeping a wet cloth on the rest of the blade.

TIG is a clean process without spatter, and the heat affected zone is small compared to other processes.

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I know JB weld. I have it at home. The idea of gluing a Japanese sword with it is like putting a fake plastic helmet on an antique suit of armour. It may look ok, but the idea is....horrendous.
Rather leave it off, or have it welded like some suggested. At least that will be metal to metal and can be blended and patinated to look ok as a display. Put it back into the mounts and display like that.

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