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Thread: Burnishing photo. 1086 blade.

  1. #1

    Burnishing photo. 1086 blade.

    Just fwiw, I was cleaning out my new digital camera's memory card and found this photo so I thougth I'd post it with some verbiage.

    Burnishing is a pain in the butt. Okay, I said it. I hate it. I keep practicing. I keep trying different things. Recently I tried something on a blade I was working on (that other craftsmen saw I'm sad to say) that I really did a piss-poor job on. So I keep practicing, keep working, and keep giving it my all. I've been feeling a *lot* better about it lately, especially after Ted pointing out something I was doing that was simply stupid.

    By the way, this is another good argument about why you shouldn't try polishing unless you have someone who knows what they're doing giving you training in person. Its *really* easy to start doing something just not quite right and get into a groove with it and carry that mistake into your work. And you sit around later wondering why it doesn't look right. Ted pointing it out instantly. It was something I had always been doing that was simply and unambiguously wrong. Argh.

    Anyway, I took the following photo to show what it looks like now that I'm feeling better about it. I still hate doing it because my hands cramp up, my eyes cross, my neck and back gets sore. I'll spend over a day burnishing a katana. Multiple passes of a hard tool in one direction. Slowly but surely compacting the steel surface until it develops a mirrored sheen. One thing that really inspired me to work on it was looking at some top grade polishes on a few antiques. "How the heck..." So I went home, made myself some strong tea, and sat down and practiced more. So much to learn...

    Anyway, here's the photo.



    This is a *big* Clark 1086 katana for a fella named Dave Drawdy. A really lovely blade, but a *big* sucker.

    Many short cut polishes involve using buffing wheels and the like. The problem is that even a buffing wheel on a dremel runs the significant risk of "rounding" the lines. Look at the shinogi and mune. We work *so* hard on stones polishing with progressively finer grits that we don't want to polish up the shinogi-ji and mune with a wheel and destroy those lines. But I've seen blade after blade with rounded, fuzzy lines. But with very shiny "smeared" shinogi-ji surfaces. The trick is getting both a mirror-like surface, but ensuring the lines stay as crisp as they were before you stared. So burnishing comes into play...

    Back to work for me. Just wanted to share the picture.
    Last edited by Keith Larman; 01-27-2003 at 01:26 PM.
    Keith Larman
    Summerchild Polishing and Modertosho Modern Japanese Swords
    "They say I have ADD, but ... Hey, look, a chicken!"

  2. #2

    Re: Burnishing photo. 1086 blade.

    Keith,

    Heck, looks like a good piece of work you did here !


    What is your burnishihng tool made of? (I guess it's the one shown on the picture)... So I guess it's steel

    But what kind of and what at what hardness?
    Did you ever use Jade or other stones?

    Daniel
    Daniel Gentile
    RONIN - Japanese Swords

    http://www.ronin.to
    -------------------------------------
    Open Your Eyes
    Live The Moment
    From Nothing Into Nothing

  3. #3
    Thanks.

    If Greg D is lurking about, he can tell you more about the tool. I believe he said its a tungsten carbide. He had made me one and I was so impressed I asked if he could make me one that was shaped a bit differently. So we talked about it, he made me a few shaped the way I wanted, I bought them all, and we discussed me selling them off my site for him. I haven't had time to put them up yet (I've got a couple sitting waiting...), but I really like the tool. I've actually given one to another polisher friend of mine as a gift since I was so impressed with it. The shape is perfect for me now with it being easy to slowly angle the tool across the surface to maintain a clean stroke. Great for traditional burnishing methods.

    I've never tried any other materials other than hardened steel.

    I made a few for myself over the years, but my standby has always been a mikagi-bo I bought from Japan. Well, that one and one I had made that was more like a bera. But I find myself only using my mikagi-bo if I'm working a groove.
    Keith Larman
    Summerchild Polishing and Modertosho Modern Japanese Swords
    "They say I have ADD, but ... Hey, look, a chicken!"

  4. #4
    I should clarify my last sentence. My standby *had been* the one I bought from Japan. I now use the tool Greg made me almost all the time. It seems less "sticky" on the surface that my other tools. So the shape is perfect for how I do it and the tool seems more user friendly.
    Keith Larman
    Summerchild Polishing and Modertosho Modern Japanese Swords
    "They say I have ADD, but ... Hey, look, a chicken!"

  5. #5
    Well thanks...

    Would be nice if you'd post a note in the forum as soon as you've got 'em online... I'm quiet interessted


    daniel
    Daniel Gentile
    RONIN - Japanese Swords

    http://www.ronin.to
    -------------------------------------
    Open Your Eyes
    Live The Moment
    From Nothing Into Nothing

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    North Jersey
    Posts
    915

    burnishing rod

    Just crawled up from the murky depths,fingers covered in blood from an array of micro lacerations suffered while polishing a wonderfull Bungo naginata that somone planned on making into a big Bowie by grinding the nakago off to about 3''long.
    The insert in the mikagi-bo is tungsten-carbide(i think grade C-6)oridginally bought to be ground as boring tool blanks for lathe work on hard or tough material.And the description ive heard with respect to "Ibota" was "The waxy excreetion of a Japanese Cicada,it uses to build its nest"(either description sounds equally gross,but the stuffs not that bad after you pick out the bug shells).there are some lubricants you can substitute but Ibota works real good.You can also use it to finish shira-saya,dust it on,alot of pressure and speed on with a dry cloth.

    Greg

    FWIW "Ibota" is the lubricant you would use to with the mikagi-bo,Iwasnt sure I made that clear in giving its description(Keith discribed it as "Bug poop"in Bugei forum).I had a hot metal chip from a lathe hit my cornea at work today and was going back and forth between this and the Bugei forum with some gunky antibiotic goop and a patch on that eye,I know,Safety Glasses.
    Last edited by Greg.D; 01-29-2003 at 09:03 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    California
    Posts
    62
    Damn pretty Keith.
    Black Sheep Forge
    "To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to understand all things." - a great Zen master

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    California
    Posts
    2,584
    Keith,

    How hard is it creating contrast for Howard's 1086 blades? I know that with 1050 bringing the hamon out is a lot easier. Are you doing an etch or doing a standard rub-rub-rub for days polish?
    Adrian
    Maestro of the Bolognese School (Spaghetti sauce, not fencing!)

    Click HERE for the SFI comic strip "Bloodgroove"!

  9. #9
    Having polished 1086 both traditionally and with various hybrid methods, they are often (not always) very difficult to get good contrast. Or traditional looking contrast. It is the nature of the steel more than anything else.

    Frankly there is no quick and easy finish for the 1086 blade that also looks good. I've done full stone polishes but the very high carbon level tends to result in a blade that is greyish. Clearing the ji to traditional standards is also problematic. I've seen some traditional looking stone polishes on his blades where the ji looked more of less matted. And when I started to clear the ji with jizuya I found that there were significant scratches hiding underneath the finish. The same is true of the overwhelming majority of etched finishes I've seen. Once you start clearing out the oxides and light greyish matte of the ji you find the surface was still scritchy. I've ended up with a couple blades now where folk have quietly asked me to redo the finish. So I've seen a variety of things...

    This particular blade was done with a hybrid method. It was fully stone worked right up to the finish. I started on a stone much like a kongodo and ended up in the nagura level on stones. During the finish I used some etchants but also used fully traditional fingerstones as well as nugui and burnishing tools.

    I look at the various methods as simply being tools. Each blade poses its own unique issues. And every blade I've ever done has been done a bit differently. In working with Ted on these things since I'm now polishing Bugei blades for/with him, I've learned quite a bit about the steel. The guy has polished more of Howard's blades than every one else combined. And he approaches each blade as a unique individual. There is no step by step method.

    But to be honest, I've yet to see a traditional polish on a 1086 that had both the clarity and contrast of what I'd like to see in a finished blade. Others may disagree of course.

    It is much like antiques. Some antiques are whitish in the steel. Some are greyish. Some are bluish. Some are hazy, others are milky, some are "fuzzy", some are perfectly clear. Each steel presents its own "profile" and then each blade will present it in different ways. The problem with modern high carbon steel is that your goal is the same -- opening a window into the steel. Most traditional polishes as well as most etched polishes I've seen on them look more like surface treatments rather than polishes to me. They don't open that window but present activity as a surface effect. The hard part is learning how to bring all that stuff up, balance it out, clear out what needs to be cleared, keep things visible, but not burn out the features as well.

    Howard's blades are by far the most challenging blades to polish well.

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