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Look around your anvil. The fire-scale that comes of any iron/steel forging is iron oxide.

 

There are all kinds of recipies for making nugui.

Just crush up your iron oxide very fine, add some vegi oil, filter it through a coffee filter when applying, and rub with cotton balls, on the non hamon part of your blade. This may darken the non hamon part, and make your hamon seem brighter.

It will likely depend a great deal on your steel, how well it works.

And, there are a lot of recipies.

 

Mark

Mark Green

 

I have a way? Is that better then a plan?

(cptn. Mal)

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  • 2 weeks later...

mark pretty much nailed it...there are as many recipes for nugui as there are polishers, and none of it is really a secret...from my limited understanding on the subject, the same stuff used in nugui recipes is also commonly used as pigment and can be purchased for fairly cheap (try ceramic shops)...here is a basic list to help get you started...

 

kanahada=burnt iron oxide

aoko=chromium oxide

akako=red iron oxide

jitekko=magnetite

 

they also use cinnabar, but i cant recall the japanese name for it off hand...there is also a gold powder i saw on namikawa called "kin pun"...im not exactly sure what this is, but i suspect it is either yellow or orange iron oxide, or a blend of the 2...maybe someone who has more information could chime in and help me figure that part out...

 

now...onto making the hamon "pop"...first, from my experience, nugui will not create the "pop" i think you are talking about...there is a saying that "the camera adds 10 pounds"...well, in the world of hamons a picture taken by Mr Fogg, Mr Sorrells, Mr Hanson, etc "adds 10 levels of contrast"...the hamon in real life doesnt show the same contrast(and it shouldnt). photographing hamons is an art in itself, and seeks to show off as much of the details in the hamon as possible in a picture...Mr Fogg explained this in a thread somewhere where he uses a piece of black felt or something to reflect the light, which make the blade appear much darker than it actually is.

 

i guess what i am trying to say is, i would worry about polishing more than nugui because you cant tell too much of a difference (especially on mono-steel)...when i have used it, the effect i got was that it kinda evened out/dulled the shine a bit..hard to explain, but i doubt you would be able to even tell the difference in a photograph...and most people (unless they knew what to look for) wouldnt even be able to see a difference in real life...its a very very subtle touch...im still pretty new at all this, but what i have found to be a deciding factor in how my hamons turn out is gaining a better knowledge of when to keep polishing vs when to stop polishing (in hindsight, i could have coaxed A LOT more out of my first few, and im sure as i get better, i will be able to coax even more out)...it really is something you just have to jump in and learn from doing it and not be affraid to experiment with your technique...i know people hate answers like that, but i havnt been able to find any one size fits all solution to polishing, and im pretty sure there isnt one...if all you are looking for is a knife with the highest possible contrast (and not a lot of detail in the hamon), then my suggestion is hard etch in ferric...you could also, use naval jelly painted onto the the unhardened steel...this will give you a dakrish greyish kind patina and leave the hamon bright...a warning though, that is not traditional (and in my opinion not desirable) and you may get some funny looks...but you will have high contrast. ooooorrrrrr...you could practice, practice, practice...and learn to enjoy the subtleties in a hamon as you learn...

 

but seriously though...does anyone have any idea what "kin pun" is made out of?

In the eyes of a novice, i may be a master...but in the eyes of a master, im merely a novice.

 

 

ichi-go, ichi-e

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one other thing that has been suggested...get a book called "the art of japanese sword polishing"...it wont make you a world class polisher, but it is an excellent resource and will answer many many questions...it will even answer some questions you didnt know you had...the draw back to this book is that it will also leave you really wanting to polish out blades and trying to figure out how you are going to afford all the equipment needed to do a traditional polish...if pandoras box is your cup of tea, then i highly suggest this book...

In the eyes of a novice, i may be a master...but in the eyes of a master, im merely a novice.

 

 

ichi-go, ichi-e

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Kin pun=gold dust. It is literally powdered elemental gold. It has its place in nugui for certain schools of the Koto period. However, it is used the most mixed with lacquer for decorative work on saya. That is probably the application for which Namikawa sells the most kinpun, even if it is listed under nugui. You have to remember, they sell to a lot of traditional polishers in Japan, as well.

 

Mike gives some good advice. You can tell he has tried some stuff. It is really difficult to grind down scale unless you have a ball mill. Ceramic oxides offer a good selection. The secret to nugui is not what it is made of, but how it is treated, filtered, and applied.

 

You do have to realize what you are truly looking to achieve, if it is a traditional-looking polish. Go to a token-kai, participate, look at some good swords in good polish. See what it is you are trying to recreate.

 

Hamon don't "pop"--I hate that phrase, btw. They are brought out and hold a subtlety. It takes proper lighting and manipulating the light over the sword to see everything in them. You wouldn't want a polish that made everything stand out--it would "fry" the hamon and wither the nioi-guchi. It would be more akin to a deeper topographical etch at that point.

 

The only way to get a garish contrast is an overdone kesho-polish, which will fail two-fold on monosteel. Why? Because nugui doesn't work all that well on monosteel AND uchigumori (hadori/hatsuya)won't give the same effect of a whitened yakiba. Rather, hadori on monosteel usually just makes it really scratchy looking (unless you have amassed quite a collection and are willing to hunt down the perfect match, rub forever and then settle for a very subtle effect).

 

When people ask me when I know a polish is "finished", I usually relate it to this experience: When you go to the optometrist for new glasses and he swaps the lenses over and over, he will say, "This one, or this one." He wants you to choose which lens you see better through. You choose and he sets that lens then asks again, "This one, or this one." Eventually you can't see that one is better than the other one. He knows he's done. When you follow the steps to appropriately polish a piece and everything is done, and your efforts no longer improve the piece, you are done.

 

Al, the simplest answer regarding iron oxide would be a local pottery supply. Kanahada is equivalent to "black iron oxide". You want the finest mesh they have. However, what you really want to know, nobody is likely to just give it to you. The truth is, nobody really can. You have to put in some trial and effort to figure out how YOU polish and what you can do with your work. Nobody can tell you that. And if you put in some real effort and show it with thoughtful questions, real polishers are likely to "push" you in the right direction.

 

Shannon

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thanks shannon! you know, i saw namikawa list kin pun as "gold dust" but just assumed it was a name of a mix, not actual gold dust...another quick question...i noticed that kanahada is either called "burnt iron oxide" or "black iron oxide"...to my understanding "black iron oxide" is magnetite...but i have always seen jitekko described as magnetite...i was wondering what the difference is between jitekko and kanahada (they both are described as a base for nugui)

In the eyes of a novice, i may be a master...but in the eyes of a master, im merely a novice.

 

 

ichi-go, ichi-e

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Mike,

 

I could be wrong, but I believe that the biggest difference between Kanahada (black iron oxide)and magnetite (used for sahikomi polishing) is that the kanahada is calcined and the magnetite is only crushed and ground (not heated after that or during its processing).

 

From what I understand in regards to the use of nugui, Kanahada permeates and "stains" a bit more. Whereas the magnetite, not being calcined, stains less and has more subtle abrasive action (oxides are harder, thus, more abrasive).

 

Just my humble understanding of the difference.

 

Shannon

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first...sorry to the OP if i have hijacked your thread...it wasnt my intent, i just get curious and the questions start flying...second...thanks once again shannon! im thinking your explanation makes perfect sense based on how nugui is usually described...so ground scale would equal kanahda and jitekko would equal magnetite (Fe3O4) that has not had any thermal treatment...now im wondering if there is a way to get to kanahada without having to use scale...ive heard of ground scale plenty of times, it just makes me pause for the reasons you brought up having to do with grinding and such...would it be possible to introduce powdered magnetite to heat and end up with a pre-ground kanahada? im sure there must be a way to get to kanahada without having to collect and grind forge scale...is the "black iron oxide" sold as pigment in ceramic suppy stores jitekko? i dont see how it could be kanahada unless the pigment went through some form of thermal process...sorry about all the questions, seems like every time i learn one thing, that new found knowledge leads me to having 2 new questions...

Edited by mike fegan

In the eyes of a novice, i may be a master...but in the eyes of a master, im merely a novice.

 

 

ichi-go, ichi-e

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Sorry to the OP if this is off his topic.

 

Mike, you are correct--magnetite is jitekko, kanahada is burnt scale (or calcined magnetite).

 

When you purchase Black Iron Oxide, it should be Fe3O4, which is magnetite, which is suitable to make sashikomi nugui from as-is. You will always have to make sure what you are purchasing is Fe3O4, because both red iron oxide and similarly broken-down variants will be available as pigments and from ceramics suppliers.

 

If you don't want to grind down scale for kanahada, as Mark Green suggests, you can calcine Black Iron Oxide (Fe3O4) at 1000 F or slightly higher to get the equivalent of kanahada. Just put it in a crucible or iron cup, put it in your forging fire (but not your welding fire), and leave it a bit, stir it, put it back in a little longer. This should produce kanahada, but you will have to grind it a bit in a mortar and pestle to get good yield because it will oxidize and stick to itself a bit. OF course, be sure to always filter appropriately for your particular project. It is very scratchy stuff and won't work unless appropriate means have been made to set-up the steel to see any effects from it, i.e. proper tsuya-work.

 

Shannon

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Sorry to the OP if this is off his topic.

 

Mike, you are correct--magnetite is jitekko, kanahada is burnt scale (or calcined magnetite).

 

When you purchase Black Iron Oxide, it should be Fe3O4, which is magnetite, which is suitable to make sashikomi nugui from as-is. You will always have to make sure what you are purchasing is Fe3O4, because both red iron oxide and similarly broken-down variants will be available as pigments and from ceramics suppliers.

 

If you don't want to grind down scale for kanahada, as Mark Green suggests, you can calcine Black Iron Oxide (Fe3O4) at 1000 F or slightly higher to get the equivalent of kanahada. Just put it in a crucible or iron cup, put it in your forging fire (but not your welding fire), and leave it a bit, stir it, put it back in a little longer. This should produce kanahada, but you will have to grind it a bit in a mortar and pestle to get good yield because it will oxidize and stick to itself a bit. OF course, be sure to always filter appropriately for your particular project. It is very scratchy stuff and won't work unless appropriate means have been made to set-up the steel to see any effects from it, i.e. proper tsuya-work.

 

Shannon

 

Shannon,

There is a lot of confusion in the world regarding Magnetite and Black Iron Oxide, some of the ceramic supply vendors are not aware of the differences.

 

If I burn iron oxide ( magnetite , Fe3O4 grayish black) , I get Fe2O3 red

If I burn black iron oxide (Wustite , FeO) I get Fe2O3 red

If I burn red iron oxide in air I get red iron oxide Fe2O3

 

Black iron oxide is Wustite, FeO.. If I want to patina a small object black (FeO), I place it in a reducing environment at red heat ( to create a "pure" iron surface and add a touch of water to create a little steam in that environment ( now slightly oxidizing the iron surface

to FeO (open system)

 

So in the set of Japanese definitions "Burnt iron oxide" must mean it was made under conditions other than an open container.

 

Jan

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other than an open-air container?? maybe im a bit confused, but if im reading all this correctly, if you burn iron oxide in open-air, you will get red iron oxide (which is also used for nugui i believe and is called akako)...black iron oxide can be refered to as magnetite or wustite?? different chemical comps just refered to (perhaps incorrectly) as the same thing (black iron oxide)??? what conditions would kanahada be made under (assuming we are attempting to avoid collecting and grinding scale)??

Edited by mike fegan

In the eyes of a novice, i may be a master...but in the eyes of a master, im merely a novice.

 

 

ichi-go, ichi-e

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also, i feel like i should appologize to OP again...im deffinately walking the thread hi-jack line (maybe even crossed it already)...

 

simple answer for OP's question...if you really want your hamons to "pop"...get really good at photographing steel. B)

In the eyes of a novice, i may be a master...but in the eyes of a master, im merely a novice.

 

 

ichi-go, ichi-e

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May be instead of "burn" you could use the terms "oxidize" and "reduce" since all these processes are a form of burning but the conditions of the burn is what changes. This is what Jan was trying to explain.

 

Reduction: Hematite -> Magnetite -> Wustite -> Iron

Oxidation: Iron -> Wustite -> Magnetite -> Hematite

 

Hematite: Fe2O3 red

Magnetite: Fe3O4 black

Wustite: FeO gray

Iron: Fe

 

To complicate things a bit more, you can think of magnetite as FeO·Fe2O3 wustite·hemaite.

Edited by Jesus Hernandez

Enjoy life!

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May be instead of "burn" you could use the terms "oxidize" and "reduce" since all these processes are a form of burning but the conditions of the burn is what changes. This is what Jan was trying to explain.

 

Reduction: Hematite -> Magnetite -> Wustite -> Iron

Oxidation: Iron -> Wustite -> Magnetite -> Hematite

 

Hematite: Fe2O3 red

Magnetite: Fe3O4 black

Wustite: FeO gray

Iron: Fe

 

To complicate things a bit more, you can think of magnetite as FeO·Fe2O3 wustite·hemaite.

 

Thanks Jesus,,

Maybe I should have left the word Wustite out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron(II)_oxide

Jan

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thank you very much guys for that information...i hope i am understanding all this correctly...

 

jitekko = magnetite/black iron oxide/fe304

akako = hematite/ferric oxide/red iron oxide/fe203

aoko = chromium sesquioxide/green chromium oxide/cr203

 

but what would kanahda be?? does anyone know what the chemical formula for kanahada is??

Edited by mike fegan

In the eyes of a novice, i may be a master...but in the eyes of a master, im merely a novice.

 

 

ichi-go, ichi-e

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thank you very much guys for that information...i hope i am understanding all this correctly...

 

jitekko = magnetite/black iron oxide/fe304

akako = hematite/ferric oxide/red iron oxide/fe203

aoko = chromium sesquioxide/green chromium oxide/cr203

 

but what would kanahda be?? does anyone know what the chemical formula for kanahada is??

 

 

Mike,

My guess is it is FeO iron oxide. I have not read up on the polishing of Japanese swords so I am not familiar with this material as an abrasive. When Magnetite (forging scale) is oxidized to red iron oxide Fe2O3 it is sometimes easy to crush into very fine material a fine red powder .

Magnetite is quite abrasive and I am guessing FeO is not as much of an abrasive. One could play with the fine red powder and mix it well with a substance like soot ( soot being a non abrasive, any organic material will do ( rice starch etc.) ) and heat it in a closed container to an orange heat for a short time , keep closed, ( air out) ( A closed container is not a sealed container..this system has to vent.) until cool.....the result should contain some FeO and maybe some Fe ( iron ) and maybe a residual amount of soot ( this mix is easy to clean up into components ). I will try it next Winter when I will try some hamon...but only if it seems really NEEDED as part of the Japanese polishing process.

 

Jan

Edited by Jan Ysselstein
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Mike,

My guess is it is FeO iron oxide. I have not read up on the polishing of Japanese swords so I am not familiar with this material as an abrasive. When Magnetite (forging scale) is oxidized to red iron oxide Fe2O3 it is sometimes easy to crush into very fine material a fine red powder .

Magnetite is quite abrasive and I am guessing FeO is not as much of an abrasive. One could play with the fine red powder and mix it well with a substance like soot ( soot being a non abrasive, any organic material will do ( rice starch etc.) ) and heat it in a closed container to an orange heat for a short time , keep closed ( air out) until cool.....the result should contain some FeO and maybe some Fe ( iron ) and maybe a residual amount of soot ( this mix is easy to clean up into components ). I will try it next Winter when I will try some hamon...but only if it seems really NEEDED as part of the Japanese polishing process.

 

Jan

 

Mike ,

A closed container is not a sealed container..this system has to vent.

Jan

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thank you very much Jan...ive been reading up a bit on my oxides, and from what i can tell, i think you may be right as to kanahada being fe0 (ferrous oxide)...wikipedia also list its uses as a pigment...fda approved for cosmetics and also used in some tattoo inks...since it can be created using heat (in vacuo), that may very well lead to the description of "burnt iron oxide"...this is all speculation of course, but from what i have learned about the subject, i think you may have hit the proverbial nail on the head...

 

if you do try it out please let me know how it worked out...ill probably do a little experimenting on my own and let you know if i come up with anything...thanks again for the respnses!

Edited by mike fegan

In the eyes of a novice, i may be a master...but in the eyes of a master, im merely a novice.

 

 

ichi-go, ichi-e

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  • 12 years later...

Sorry to super zombify this post, but I've been doing some research on this topic. I think there still is a fair bit of confusion, and I think I've sorted it out!

 

First of all, if it's black iron oxide powder, it can either be FeO, or Fe3O4. The Fe3O4 is a known crystal conformation of exactly equal amounts of FeO and Fe2O3, and it is known to be black. So just getting some black "Iron oxide" powder, you don't know which of these two it is. However, none of these substances are reactive in oil, neither is the steel it's being put on, so it doesn't really matter. If it looks black, you can put it on. Doesn't matter if it's "jitekko" or "kanahada." Given this, you can use either for Sashikomi Nugui or Hadori Hamon. On Namikawa Heibei, both "jitekko" and "kanahada" are the same colour, and look identical. Either way, they just darken the jihada. Either of these can be called mill scale, magnetite, hematite, black iron oxide, or what have you. Both magnetite and hematite are black ores. 

 

Here's what they actually mean in Japanese:

 

磁鉄鉱 or Jitekko means "magnet iron ore" (magnetite)

仮名肌 or Kanahada means "letter skin" (pigment used for ink)

 

If it's plain Fe2O3, then it's going to be dark red, they call this akako (赤行, an old word for red). The other red pigment they use for this is Shinsa (辰砂 cinnabar, or mercury sulfide), which is bright red.

 

Wüstite is its own thing, Fe0.95O (usutaito in Japanese, no kanji for it). It crystallizes in the isometric hexoctahedral crystal conformation, so it appears grey. Doesn't appear they use this for Nugui.

 

Of course, you can get mixtures of any and all of the above that will appear different colours, from brown to grey to black. But it doesn't look like they use any brown iron oxide for these kind of things (mixed red and black iron oxide of some kind). It's also worth mentioning that chemically, they aren't the same, but for the purposes of Nugui, I don't think it matters!

 

Update: I thought I should mention, nugui made with kanahada is a finer grade meant for ink, so a bit more expensive. It can be used directly on the blade without scratching, whereas  the jitekko should only be used with yoshinogami.

Edited by Carlos Lara
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