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Polishing bench and stones

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I put aside my charcoal making last spring to make the beds for my best friends mountain house and when I was done the Texas Summer from hell 2011 was already in full swing with triple digits and burn bans in effect (still are-94 degrees on September 26 :angry: ).


I spent a lot of time going back an forth to Georgia dealing with family issues. Long drives are meant for solving problems and making stuff in my head.


I had been reading various members lament about the drudgery of polishing blades by hand. I am right here with them. It is a necessary but evil task.


So as I drove I thought about what could make it better and dare I say- enjoyable? Naw-that is asking too much.


Still is should be possible to create an atmosphere that is conducive to polishing blades as well as improve on the tools we use.


So here is where I am now.


First let me state up front I hate using sandpaper to polish blades. The silicon carbide paper is expensive, wasteful and really not very effective. Plus you end up with this big pile of trash all around you as you rub a little bit tear off a piece, rub a little more tear off another piece and on and on.


Good stones are expensive as well and not readily available at the local hardware. So I thought about this quite bit and well-made my own. I am not really ready to talk about this yet- more testing is required but initial trials look good. Plus, there may be some commercial value here so I am going to keep this close to the chest for a while anyway.


So here is where I am now on my way to polishing nirvana.


The idea came from the book The Art of Japanese Sword Polishing. I figured if a true Japanese sword polisher could elect to sit comfortably so could I.

The bench was built from stuff I had on hand. There are a lot of leftovers when you build a house.

The basic frame components



Stained and beginning assembly



Support stucture

interior frame.jpg


Hardibacker (cement backing board for tile)



Basin Tiled with Slate.



Cypress boards glued down-Stone holder bolted from the bottom, cypress bucket in the basin and filled.

Note to self: Leave more room for the bucket in the basin so that when it swells from the water it does not wedge itself into the basin <_<



Stone holder



Flattening the stones with a coarse diamond plate.









My Polishing Corner

polishing shop.jpg


More later



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Dan ,

that is really nice....


where is the pic with the big smile it put on your face?cool.gif


I got into blacksmithing to begin with cause as a wood worker I also was sick of sanding .... Blacksmithing you just wire brush it off and your done....


then I got sucked into Damascus.....wacko.gif



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Yeah, well when I started making swords I figured it was going to be mostly smithing. Reality is I spend way more than half of my time with the grinder, files, and a polishing bench and stones.


The stones shape the sword, and the sword shapes the stones, and both of them shape the maker. Is the polisher working the sword, or the sword working the polisher ? Yes.


Nice kit Dan. :)

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Impressive. Honestly and truly impressive.


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it is a very elegant bench. i must be an odd one to say this- but i like polishing! hahaha

lovely addition to the workspace.


i will build one i think.






i have a huge interest in whetstones indiginous to britain, there were hundreds of quaries for natural wetstone here. but for the most part it is forgotten that they were quarrying them for polishing stones as some of them fell out of use a long time ago.


what im trying to say is that in a land as geologically diverse as america there must be many sites of suitable stone as fine grit stones are not a geological oddity of japan. but in a place with no indiginous metalworking and ,i pressume, a history of imported wetstones- it may be difficult to find areas where these stones occur naturaly or at least occur knowingly.


to make it easier, i would try and find out the Geological names for certain waterstones that you know and contact a geological bodyto find out if such species have been surveyed on the us geo record.


another good lead is any stone that contains micro-spherodial garnets as this will make excellant cutting stones. many of the british stones i have studied contain these garnets.


you say you have a way of making polishing stones-? that is very exciting. i wish you all the best in that venture.





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Thanks guys.


I appreciate the compliments.



Howard, your comments fit right in with a thread over on The Way and especially how I think about it. The most important part of any endeavor is how it shapes us. Making cool stuff or even being able to make a living at it is a big bonus.




I am sure you are right about finding suitable stone formations in the US for polishing. There are of course the Arkansas whetstones from Arkansas. What I have found though is that with most natural stones used for sharpening is that they are not pure enough. There always seems to be a stray something that will leave a scratch as you get into finer and finer stones.


More importantly I don't need anything else to distract me. Researching and investigating stone formations would be a pursuit all unto itself. I don't know if you have been following my forge rebuild but if you notice I started towards the end of last winter and have not made a blade yet. My fascination with the processes and tools of the craft lead me down all kinds of bunny trails. I don't need another one to traipse down never to find my way back. :)

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I have a very good friend who is a professional polisher. He has researched north american sedimentary stones a good deal with the help of a geologist of many years experience. At least for some of the finer grit natural Japanese stones, there is nothing here like them.


I am sure that folks would buy them if you could find a source for good quality stones that worked well though.

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