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Thread: 1095 steel polishing

  1. #1

    1095 steel polishing

    I've recently acquired a 1095 DH blade. The polish that well done and was thinking of trying to traditionally polish with jizuya and hazuya. Has anyone ever tried this before? would it work?

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    I think Aaron Justice has. Hit him up. Maybe even saw one in the Home Improvement section
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    it will work to a point... the jiyuza and hayuza steps are designed to bring out details of hada and hamon.

    So forget about the details of the hada.

    you may want to pick up "Japanese Sword Polishing" by Kapp. as they outline the steps there, although that particular polisher skips the hayuza (or the jiyuza?) step, as he doesnt think it is worth it.

    So, if you have some nice activity in the hamon, you can probably bring it out and if you go through the nigui and hadori process, you can probably get some good contrast. But modern steel is a little bland, you will not get the same effects as a smelted steel blade as far as metal color etc. I also think the 1095 will probably produce a relatively narrow hamon.

    You may be happier with some of the hybrid polishing effects.

    I have used a mixture of lemon juice and vinegar and a teeny bit of dish soap to break the surface tension to etch the blade slowly ( by slowly like it takes 10 mins to see anyting) and then polished down with 3600-12000 grit foam backed sandpaper and have gotten great results on modern steel. The acid is weak so you dont get too strong an etch and it is easy to neutralize.

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    Hi Kenji, I will try my best to answer your question, but please don't take what I have to say in a discouraging sort of way. Experimenting with these sorts of projects can be a lot of fun, but I would try and save you from heading endlessly down a dead end road.

    The subject of traditional polishing on modern, mono-steel blades is one that has come up fairly frequently. I do know there's been plenty of misinformation about the subject, which isn't really helpful to a newer person trying to make their way through all the varied opinions. Some things to keep in mind when sorting through information: Some opinions are qualified, others aren't, some come from experience, while while others don't, but ultimately, the real proof is in the finished product. Does it look like it should? Does the person giving the opinion even know what it's supposed to look like?

    I can tell you from personal experience as well as the experiences of other polishers, some of whom are fully traditionally trained, that for the most part, you will not get an acceptable or aesthetically pleasing finish on modern steels using totally traditional methods such as hazuya, jizuya, nugui, etc.. Provided you knew exactly what you were doing, were working with a steel that's qualities were close enough to traditional steel, and happened to have just the right stones, you might pull something off.

    I've said it here before, you would be surprised at the number of people who call or e-mail me asking if I will be using finger stones to finish their L6, W2, or whatever. This very traditional finishing method seems to be top priority to them for their very modern blade. It seems such an odd pairing of priorities, but to some it would seem that the road travelled is more important than the destination arrived at. Now that's quite a backwards way of thinking, but nonetheless it finds fertile soil in many minds. Unfortunately, most of that is due to misinformation and misunderstanding, of both traditional swords and polishing, and the relationship between the two.

    An important concept to understand is that traditional swords and the tools chosen to polish them evolved together. The stones which are used to polish Nihonto were chosen specifically because they work and are effective on that material, whereas the materials used for modern blades many times bear little resemblance to the traditional ones. So while both are swords and have the same general appearance to the casual observer, they are under the surface as different from each other as apples and oranges. With that in mind, it would be faulty thinking to reason that the stones which are so specific to the one, and must even be chosen carefully within that discipline to suit an individual sword, can be made to work for something so far removed.

    There's more to a traditional polish than is immediately apparent. All polishing involves scratches. On a blade made from tamahagane, the scratches left from the hazuya/jizuya stones are finer than the actual grain structure/texture of the steel, so they're obscured by the surface of the blade itself and are therefore not visible. On a mono-steel blade, the surface lacks this natural texture, therefore it will be impossible to use finger stones without leaving some level of scratches which will be visible. Starting from a sandpaper finished surface, those scratches might not be so visible, but then the quality of the finish will not be very good or clear. As I said, if one were skilful, anything is certainly possible, but we are talking curiosities here more than reality.

    Modern polishing methods are not inferior to traditional ones, nor are they less time consuming when done skilfully and to a high level. Both work best within their own discipline, so save yourself the time, headache, expense, and stones. There are some good tutorials floating around on modern polishing methods which when done properly, will produce an excellent finish on these blades that will look far better than anything you'll be able to achieve with finger stones and nugui. Best of luck to you.

    Chris

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    Man, that was a long winded reply to such a short and simple question.........sorry.

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    Perhaps long , but interesting , that's what matters IMHO , thank you for your post , good to know this
    "Non nobis domine non nobis sed nomini tuo da gloriam"

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    In your opinion, Chris, do blades made of modern steels- 1075 for instance- benefit from being fully polished as opposed to say what production companies today call cutting or tameshegiri polishes i.e. does an art-level polish bring out any more hamon activity in unfolded, unsmelted steel given that there is no hada consideration? I have often wondered if a super-fine grain/grit polish is useful in such cases and have most recently been leaning towards 'yes' reasoning that the more complete reduction of scratching visible to the naked eye would allow some of the "mistier" activities(when present) to be seen in greater contrast to the bright background. Your thoughts, if you please?
    "Without a sign his sword the brave man draws,
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    ........more complete reduction of scratching visible to the naked eye would allow some of the "mistier" activities(when present) to be seen in greater contrast to the bright background.
    Your reasoning is sound Jerry, a finer surface will indeed show greater detail if it's there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Osborne View Post
    Your reasoning is sound Jerry, a finer surface will indeed show greater detail if it's there.
    Thank you, sir!
    "Without a sign his sword the brave man draws,
    And asks no omen but his country’s cause."

    ---The Iliad of Homer, Book xii, Line 283


    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner; Liberty is a well-armed lamb."
    ---Benjamin Franklin

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    Thumbs up

    Is there a FAQ thread somewhere? Cause Chris' answer should be in one. Thanks for taking the time to write it.
    Certified nerd; if you need an Excel sheet or an AutoCAD drawing done, just drop me a PM!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Osborne View Post
    Your reasoning is sound Jerry, a finer surface will indeed show greater detail if it's there.
    I hit on a stone inside the Tatami while doing Tameshigeri so it made a little bend on the edge of my Katana. I used sand paper to correct it and it is ok now but my problem is that the sword had a mirror kind of polish with a wired faux Hamon. It is sctatched now.I can see the real hamon (from heat treatment) so I could not resist it and started to sand the blade. Now I think I must stop here and ask for advice. I am not in U.S.A. so I do not have polishers around, the blade is also not very expensive. What do you recommend? I want to get a good polish or just try to learn the process.

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    Hi ercansarbat,
    First you must decide what type of finish you're interested in and how much time you're willing to invest in the whole process. If you just want an even surface without trying to bring out the hamon then it will be fairly straightforward. If you're looking to do a full polish then unfortunately it's just going to be a trial and error type of thing. I can guide you through the basics for a modern type of finish, but experience ultimately is going to be the biggest determining factor affecting a good outcome more so than the individual processes themselves.

    For just an even finish on a cutting sword, using a block of some kind to back the paper, make full length, even strokes going all the way down the ji surface of the blade (being sure to not go over the shinogi) with 800 grit paper until everything is straight and even without any stray scratches. If there are scratches that can't be removed with 800 grit then remove those locally with a lower grit being mindful not to overwork any area and create an uneven surface. For normal small scratches, this shouldn't be an issue. I have found that somewhat flexible backing is better than totally rigid for getting an even surface, especially in the kissaki. Use Windex for your lubricant here. Provided you didn't get into the shinogi-ji with anything, that should be left alone. However if it needs attention, then work it in the same fashion up to 2000 grit and then burnish with a metal polish like Mother's or flitz. Finish by masking the yokote with a stiff tape and counter polish the kissaki with 800 grit paper backed with a flexible backing such as a plastic putty knife that has straight edges. Completely stiff blocks will not leave an even finish on the rounded surface of the kissaki. Use mineral oil as your lubricant. Be especially careful on this step, a very slight slip here will put you over the ko-shinogi and leave stray scratches in the shinogi-ji which will make for a messy appearance. Paper should be cut into rectangular pieces about 1.5"x2.5". I know it's against the conventional wisdom, but unless you plan on taking the entire blade up to a very high level of finish, something I feel is not really necessary on these types of blades, then there's no need to alternate directions with the paper after 220 grit. What you're after in this type of a finish is for all of your scratches to be running in the same direction and to not round any of the geometry(if there's any there to start with). How skilfully these steps are done will have a far greater impact on the look of the finished sword than having eliminated every previous grit scratch. In other words, an 800 grit surface with a few left over scratches from 600 running perfectly even will not be visible at that level, however an 800 grit surface with stray 800 grit scratches going in even slightly different directions will look terrible, so will a mirrored 2000 grit surface that has many if any remaining scratches from the previous grits. Worse yet is a completely clean surface that's lines have been softened by unskilled over polishing with sandpaper. It's all a matter of how much time you want to spend, but at that level it's much easier to achieve a good finish than trying to take it higher and not quite getting it there. Hope that makes sense.

    Once you're done with that you should have a decent, even looking surface that will be sufficient for this type of sword. You can then go from there with whatever method you like for etching out your hamon. If you choose to finish out your sword in this manner, then the kissaki step should be done after the etching process preferably. There are several tutorials floating around cyberspace, but I believe the one by Brian VanSpeybroek was probably one of the best for the whole process. I think you can find it here and if not then it can be found at Antonio Cejunior's Bladesign website.


    Chris
    Last edited by Chris Osborne; 04-05-2009 at 12:54 AM.

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    Hi Mr.Osborne,
    Thank you very much for this long and detailed instruction. I will try as you wrote here. I already used some sand paper and hope that I did not scratch the blade much. I use this blade for Tameshigeri but I also want to learn the blade polishing so I will take time and look at this as my first project. If it comes out good I will show the pictures here. ı am also interested in any additional information. I am interested in bringing out the Hamon as I can see it underneath, this is not a first class blade but I see it as a learning oppurtunity. Thank you once more.
    Last edited by ercansarbat; 04-05-2009 at 12:04 AM. Reason: corrections

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    No problem man, glad to help out. When you get your blade ready for finishing then start a new thread and post some pics in the "home improvements" forum here and I'll guide you through a basic finishing process there to bring out your hamon. Might want to also drop a PM when you do.

    Chris

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    I might also add that I would highly recommend to anyone interested in doing this type of polish for themselves pick up Walter Sorrells excellent video on hybrid polishing. Walter covers a lot of stuff in the video and it's going to do you far better to actually see these processes carried through than to read instructions. His video series are available on his website.

    http://www.waltersorrells.com/blades/accessories.htm

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    Thanks a lot Chris. I am a bit afraid that in the video some brands that can only be found in Untied states are used. You think I can find the same materials in here and go with the video?
    I also want to ask you about the shinogi, how am I supposed to polish that part as I made a mistake and sand that part a bit too.
    Thank you very much for all your help. Me and my 2 friends are trying to open a forge and try blade smithing and professionals like yours experiences are greatly appreciated.
    I will put some pictures on ''Home improvements'' once I am done with sanding process and look for your instructions for the Hamon part.

  17. #17
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    Well, I don't think there's anything mentioned that you couldn't order on-line for fairly cheap or simply find a substitute where you live. Either way, Walters video will be an invaluable resource for what you're doing.

    If you've rounded the shinogi, unfortunately the only way to restore that is to put the blade to a stone, something that would be far to time consuming and expensive for a production sword. However, if you're interested in trying this, it's covered in the video as well. I would just go with it as is and look at it as a learning experience.

    Chris
    Last edited by Chris Osborne; 04-05-2009 at 02:00 PM.

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    Yes, I think I will buy the video, and he has others as well all looked valuable. I am sure I will learn lots from it. I only passed over Shinogi a few times, I think it did not get round up, I got what you mean.
    As you said , this blade will be mine learning field, I will show you the pictures when I am done so we can all laugh together

  19. #19
    There great videos, you won't regret it.
    I bought all his videos a couple weeks ago.
    I expected to feel stupid and not be able to follow along with terminology.
    He puts everything straight forward in a very easy to understand way.
    I think he also lists sources for materials at the end of each video.
    I check some of the recommended vendors out and they carry some neat and hard to find stuff.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Douglas W. View Post
    There great videos, you won't regret it.
    I bought all his videos a couple weeks ago.
    I expected to feel stupid and not be able to follow along with terminology.
    He puts everything straight forward in a very easy to understand way.
    I think he also lists sources for materials at the end of each video.
    I check some of the recommended vendors out and they carry some neat and hard to find stuff.
    Thank you for the information. I have a friend who took Don fogg (I think it was him)'s blade smithing course and advanced course, we plan to work together as a Hobby. Do you think I can find the same materials in Istanbul? I mean are they very hard to finds or things like similars can be found?

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