Jump to content

Uchiko according to Kojima Hiroshi


Recommended Posts

An article on using uchiko on polished swords. Easy to dismiss it as advice that results in damaging a fine polish, but since the author is also a nihonto afficinado, who has handled hundreds of swords (including many important ones), his point of view seems really worth discussing:

 

http://www.ksky.ne.jp/~sumie99/uchiko.html

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have also seen blades damaged by Uchiko. I think this has become increasingly apparent in recent years because firstly swords are more widely dispersed around the world and people have not been shown the correct way to use it and secondly, and I think most significantly, the variation in quality in what is sold as uchiko has grown substantially. This being the case I agree 100% with Barry the best and safest way to remove oil is to use a microfiber cloth.

Things change, until recently the NBTHK demonstrated how to clean blades using uchiko, perhaps they still do, but the majority of us mortals I would much rather follow a safer course.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gents, this article is not about how to remove oil. It is about how uchiko can enhance the sword (show its "true face" if you will).

 

Of course, poor uchiko (to be bought as part of those cheap sword care care kits) may damage the sword, just like the application of too much pressure during "uchikoing". But that is another matter. Provided we have good quality uchiko from a polisher and we know how to use it (gently), its application should result in a sword where you can see more activities, including steel particles. This is what Kojima is claiming and this is what we should discuss.

 

Of course warnings like "crap uchiko will damage your sword" and "too vigorous cleaning with good uchiko will result in scratches" is absolutely OK here, they are in fact really needed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Unfortunately, most uchiko sold is not high quality. Most people do not know how to use it properly. It is better to say no to Uchiko than to have people do harm to swords by misuse. Saying that it is Okay for one thing will lead to it is Okay for all blades. Say no to Uchiko.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Barry, I agree on the pitfalls, but one can:

1. get proper uchiko (e.g. from Bob Benson)

2. apply it carefully (in fact Bob attches a document on how to use it to avoid scratches)

 

Of course a moron will do neither 1. nor 2., but then again, a moron will try to remove a rust spot with sandpaper and possibly polish a sword himself. Hence, I do not think that your argument is valid.

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just wanted to add, Barry, that I appreciate that you are worried what people can do to their swords. The best advice is "don't try to clean it, apply machine oil". I agree with that, it is the best advice for novices. But not for seasoned collectors, is it.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It reminds me of a transcript from an old panel that included Robert Benson that discussed when uchiko was appropriate. I personally would be afraid to uchiko an in polish sword for fear that it’ll go downhill under my watch, but I will admit to using some of Mr.Benson’s uchiko on partially out of polish old blades he said were not worth a new polish. I think in that situation it has improved their state since the blades in question had unseeable hada on nearly all of the ji, and after gradual use along their instructions I can see it and some nie. I wonder if a lot of the uchiko damage you see on the net was predominantly due to misuse, or the user having overly coarse uchiko?

 

But yes, I would not try uchikoing my in polish swords for fear of scuffing them. I’m sure it’s much easier for an expert like Hiroshi to uchiko perfectly and always have superb uchiko, than me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If your swords has ANY pits or open grain, uchiko will cause those streaks that ruin the polish. Especially with low grade uchiko and the wrong technique and pressure.
It's just not worth it on in-polish swords. On rusted and completely out of polish swords...I say go for it. It will bring out an invisible hamon a little bit.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Marius - you are opening a controversial topic that has been here several times and will probably be in the future :-)

 

I think everything is said in the article you are referring to

 

I am still just a newcomer and I will be for a long time. So it's just my subjective evaluation


For blades with hadori polishing uchiko is not explicitly recommended because it gradually removes the cosmetic effect of hadori
The use of the uchiko is very fine grinding
Polishing itself is actually grinding


For blades in sashikomi, the correct use of the quality uchiko is fine and even improves the visibility of activities in the blade


But - according to the information I have, the number of togishi who can make traditional sasahikomi is very limiting and the vast majority of blades on the market are in hadori

 

I would compare it to the routine work of most men - shaving
The use of traditional stright razor brings an excellent result
Provided that the razor is perfectly sharpened (quality uchiko) and the correct technique is used
Otherwise, the result is known in advance - and we still do not want to run to the doctor
The result with the shaving razor is satisfactory and significantly safer

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am confused... I always thought a traditionally trained polisher works to restore the blade ‘as it should be’ for the smith/school and that it is returned to the owner in the condition the polisher intended?  I find it difficult to believe I could ‘improve’ anything someone with all that experience and training had already done?  If the polish requires more work to make ‘better’ or ‘more perfect’, then to what quality/standard is the polisher working toward?  I thought we were having blades polished to bring out everything that can/should be seen?  Are we saying the polisher isn’t capable of that... but somehow I am?  I’m not being argumentative... just confused about this.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was cleaning a modern custom blade a few months ago, not really paying attention (watching a video at the same time tbh), and scratched the blade badly with the uchiko.  And that was a very tough W2 tool monosteel blade.  So, yeah... definitely caution and care needed before applying it to an actual nihonto.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now that's something I try to avoid at all costs and infact I will only touch my swords when I'm sober and have the time and attention they deserve. Besides that's asking for (bloody), accidents.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Mark S. said:

I am confused... I always thought a traditionally trained polisher works to restore the blade ‘as it should be’ for the smith/school and that it is returned to the owner in the condition the polisher intended?  I find it difficult to believe I could ‘improve’ anything someone with all that experience and training had already done?  If the polish requires more work to make ‘better’ or ‘more perfect’, then to what quality/standard is the polisher working toward?  I thought we were having blades polished to bring out everything that can/should be seen?  Are we saying the polisher isn’t capable of that... but somehow I am?  I’m not being argumentative... just confused about this.

From what I've heard - the handle is made of sediments that are formed when grinding the blade (the finest particles are used)
And they are finer than the graininess of the finest stone
Therefore, gradually correct using uchiko for blades in sashikomi will gradually improve the visibility of activities in the blade
It takes many months or a few years
And paradoxically by using the uchiko ofte, you will not achieve this result faster. On the contrary, you can cause damage

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is no correct use of Uchiko unless you're a professional polisher. Full stop. 

 

There is only an outdated tradition which is causing lasting damage to blades and creating a need for re-polishing to correct the mess and damage these ancient treasures. It's a destructive practice. 

 

Play with it on rustbuckets, sure. Use it on your monosteel cutter, that's fine - but don't touch an ancient and venerable blade with that stuff. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Valric said:

There is no correct use of Uchiko unless you're a professional polisher. Full stop....

Play with it on rustbuckets, sure. Use it on your monosteel cutter, that's fine - but don't touch an ancient and venerable blade with that stuff. 

I would have felt better if you stopped after the first sentence. The problem with the second on quotes is that, it recommends a starting point. Once used there the next step leads to an antique sword being worked on. Then ...

Let's go with "Full stop"

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Professional polisher" is a weird thing. One can polish full daito in Japan starting with 60,000,  and quite a few offering such service for 120,000 yen. Is it professional polish? Sort of. A lot of dealers also do this level of polish. Yes, they do have some polisher training, but some substantially more than others. The results typically are not in the same ballpark as those of the top level specialists. But frankly neither they are for a number of polishers that are among those most recommended on this board.

 

So on my side, those comfortable with using uchiko should use it. One should not begin with uchiko (oil dripping from blades mixed with uchiko powder is unfortunately a tell of a beginner), nor today its probably a priority to learn to work with it. I don't use uchiko, but there are many who do, those who respect it and those who gain results with it.

The problem with hadori is that first its more scratchable (hamon starts looking washed up etc.), second it varies in quality greatly. Its often done in a way which highlights hadori's problems, but making any general statement like "hadori is ..." is inviting misinterpretations. Top class Soshu typically likes top class Hadori, Bizen - maybe not so much. Sashikomi in 90% of cases is semi-skilled (often gaijin) togishi trying to explain why their products look bad - you've been poisoned by the outside prettyness of hadori and incapable or recognizng the steel's true beauty! But there are unfortunately only handful of people who can do it. The results on wild Bizen blades are something to behold. They also photograph great, Fujishiro-style, while heavy hadori makes working with a Bizen blade a major challenge.

But I would also be fearful bringing uchiko to such masterpieces.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 hours ago, Brano said:

.....Polishing itself is actually grinding....

Branislav,

that is not correct.

Any given surface will appear under magnification as an area of dents and bumps (or valleys and hills, if you like). Heavy grinding will remove not only the hills, but also the valleys, and as a result you will achieve an even surface the structure of which depends on the grain size of the grinding media. It is evident that a lot of material will be removed.

Polishing, on the other hand, is - microscopically seen - a process where no material is removed, but the 'hills' are pressed into the 'valleys'. The surface appears as very even, reflecting the light to a high degree. 

Traditional TOGI as a restoration (of course not in newly forged blades) is careful and slow, fortunately. It will just remove the 'hills' without grinding so deep as to remove the 'valleys'. This is why we can see HADA with traditional TOGI work. To name it correctly, it is not 'polishing', but a fine grinding process. Perhaps you were meaning that?

A kind of polishing is only done on the SHINOGI-JI and the MUNE, where a steel needle (= MIGAKI-BO) is used to flatten these areas to mirror-like surfaces.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hadori is cosmetic and uchiko slightly abrasive. I had a sword lent for an exhibition which was returned to me with the hadori removed towards the kissaki. It had to go to the polisher for a new hadori.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, ROKUJURO said:

Branislav,

that is not correct.

Any given surface will appear under magnification as an area of dents and bumps (or valleys and hills, if you like). Heavy grinding will remove not only the hills, but also the valleys, and as a result you will achieve an even surface the structure of which depends on the grain size of the grinding media. It is evident that a lot of material will be removed.

Polishing, on the other hand, is - microscopically seen - a process where no material is removed, but the 'hills' are pressed into the 'valleys'. The surface appears as very even, reflecting the light to a high degree. 

Traditional TOGI as a restoration (of course not in newly forged blades) is careful and slow, fortunately. It will just remove the 'hills' without grinding so deep as to remove the 'valleys'. This is why we can see HADA with traditional TOGI work. To name it correctly, it is not 'polishing', but a fine grinding process. Perhaps you were meaning that?

A kind of polishing is only done on the SHINOGI-JI and the MUNE, where a steel needle (= MIGAKI-BO) is used to flatten these areas to mirror-like surfaces.

Yes Jean
I fully agree with what you wrote
When I use the term grinding, it does not mean that the togishi will use a coarse-grained tool

Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 hours ago, b.hennick said:

Let's go with "Full stop"

 

You are right. Slippery slopes are real. 

 

11 hours ago, Rivkin said:

"Professional polisher" is a weird thing

 

I should be a little clearer here. Amateur dealer polish done for cheap is not professional polishing. It is amateur. A professional polish runs 3-6K USD. Saito-san is recommended for Soshu-den. Sashikomi psyops aside, this style of polishing is suited for flamboyant hamons and like you said, typically bizen-den. At the end of day, go with what Tanobe-Sensei recommends. Don't roll dice with these things by going with whatever you hear from your fellow collectors. 

 

There are very few polishers capable of pulling off a correct shashikomi polish. It's almost a lost art. Dodo-san is one of the few.  

 

Polishing is like surgery. You need to find the best surgeon for your case. The top polishers are hyper specialised and in high demand. Gaijin-friendly Japanese polishers are typically not recommended for venerable masterpieces. 

 

Quote

Therefore, gradually correct using uchiko for blades in sashikomi will gradually improve the visibility of activities in the blade
It takes many months or a few years

 

The notion that polish gets improved by the use of Uchiko is one of the biggest PsyOps from bad polishers for clients seeking cheap remedies for complex problems. No, you cannot improve a polish by a top polishers with Uchiko. The whole notion is preposterous to begin with and It saddens me that that many still cling to these beliefs. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://www.ksky.ne.jp/~sumie99/sword7.html
 

i see no scratches on this blade and I never saw scratches on my blades as result of the use of uchiko. 
i think in most cases when correctly used uchiko is no problem. I can understand that many people that are not so familiar with abrasives use too much pressure. Let the tool (uchiko) not your arms do the work.

 

Just my opinion and experiences.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Christian,

I used Uchiko up to about 15 years ago and yes I have been guilty in the past of misusing it and leaving star burst imprints on a blade. Fortunately it happed early enough in my collecting career not to damage any better quality blades. Someone pointed out to me the error of my ways and I adjusted my cleaning routine accordingly. Hopefully some of the messages here will have a similar effect on other less experienced members and they can bypass the "doing damage to learn a lesson" stage.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I will say I have used Mr Benson’s uchiko on very out of polish blades.  One bit of advice I was given was to hold the blade relatively horizontal and to lightly strike the uchiko ball along the mune of the blade and let dust settle on the upper surface of the blade.  Then turn blade over and do again.  This limits the starburst and drag marks on the faces of the blade.  It does nothing for improper wiping.  Once again... I stress... very out of polish/stained blades.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 5/25/2021 at 11:58 AM, Marius said:

I just wanted to add, Barry, that I appreciate that you are worried what people can do to their swords. The best advice is "don't try to clean it, apply machine oil". I agree with that, it is the best advice for novices. But not for seasoned collectors, is it.

 

Even for seasoned collectors, does it make sense to suggest using a product that CAN cause damage, rather than a product that CAN NOT? I would say the question that needs to be answered is, is there some reason why we should consider using uchiko OVER microfiber...

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...