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tagane for Chinese sword fittings


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Hello Everyone, I have finally given in. I have been trying to replicate traditional Chinese swords, and one aspect of these is a low relief carving for adornment on guards, pommels, and sheath furniture. Sometimes there is no relief and the background is set aside using round punches to imitate berries. Just as often, there is an image cut in with chisel and then the background is flattened and then matted. I have seen, read, and through communication on the web, that there are two basic approaches to doing this. The simplest is just to cut the design in with a chisel, hitting almost straight down with the chisel held so the edge is at a slight angle. I have a source from the early 20th century describing this. The rest of the work is done by flattening and then matting (or maybe they are both done in one step) the background. The other approach, which is somewhat more complex but allows for as much relief to the carving as one wants, is to first mark the work. Then chisel the lines in from an almost horizontal approach. This is much like engraving, and seems to be very much like the Japanese approach to metalwork and tsuba adornment. I have tried the first technique over and over, and I am just not able to do it correctly. Therefore, I decided to try the second approach. I realize all of this is old hat for most of the people that post here. But, I am literally brand new at this stuff. I made a very rudimentary set of tagane today to get started. I actually engraved a guard but then decided that the guard itself was too weak (made from copper). I compared the two techniques I mentioned above. For me, it is actually a great deal easier to follow the lines and cut them in with a tagane with a diamond face and about a 15 degree heel. IMG_1358.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a video I have found of the sort of ultimate, end goal (years from now). Even those of you who are already quite good may like this video. For the new folks, this is a must see:

 

 

These are the simple tools I made. The huge face on the one is actually not a deficit. I have to sharpen by hand, and I can feel when the face is flat on a stone, so it helps to guide. The others work fairly well, but the most useful for a lot of things (the most versatile) is the diamond-faced one. Now: 1. I have to make a proper guard from brass and adorn it for my current project (and also a pommel). 2. I would appreciate any information anyone would offer about the best tools and techniques to use for flattening and then matting the background after I cut the primary lines in. Thank you for reading, and for any insights you can offer. take care all! kc edited to add: if Patrick looks at these, he will either laugh or cry...

Edited by Kevin (The Professor)

please visit my website http://www.professorsforge.com/

 

“Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” E. V. Debs

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Well,

I tried the technique of using a pointed punch to give a pattern of dots to use as a guide in the later carving/engraving. I didn't like that approach too much. I couldn't get ink or graphite to stay in the punch marks well enough to let me really see them. I found myself punching the design in again and then engraving it.

 

I have read that one can take ink on a piece of paper, stick the paper to the guard, and then wet the paper with a bit of acetone and press firmly. This is supposed to transfer ink to guard. if anyone has tried this, please tell me the results.

 

 

this is a pleasant process. I like it as much as I like forging or filing. Just going to take a long time before I get even rudimentary skills.

 

today's efforts are pretty child-like. But, I know what to do to improve. If anyone actually reads this threat, take heart, you can't be any less capable than I am with this sort of stuff.

Edited by Kevin (The Professor)

please visit my website http://www.professorsforge.com/

 

“Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” E. V. Debs

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Kevin,

Patrick Hastings is teaching a class at my shop this week on this and related types of chisel work...he will not see this till he returns home next week.

 

Ric

Richard Furrer

Door County Forgeworks

Sturgeon Bay, WI

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thanks Ric. If it wasn't for the recent divorce, I would have paid to take one of those classes. Really want to, but that is not one of my options right now. It would surely be a better and easier path.

 

edited to add: I did make a good punch for flattening and matting out of an old pin punch. It is very small so I can get into tight places. I need to make a couple of larger ones. But, I am getting the flattening and matting of the background. One step, at least.

 

kc

Edited by Kevin (The Professor)

please visit my website http://www.professorsforge.com/

 

“Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” E. V. Debs

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Kevin if you search the web for "chinese white engraving layout" you'll see referrals to various discussions at igraver and

handengraving forum about the use of Chinese White and other layout methods. You can also sand the surface with 600g in a swirling pattern and draw on it with a pencil. You might try a Stabilo pencil also. The type of pencil depends on how fine a line you want.

 

I don't care for the dot method as it doesn't convey anything about variance of line width. I also never had much luck with the transfer method. I'd rather draw direct on the metal after working out the basics on paper.

 

Jim

 

added: You could also search for "hand engraving layout" and see what comes up.

Edited by Jim Kelso
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Thanks Jim. I will try the Chinese white.

 

There is less variance of line width in the fittings made for, "field grade," swords. But there is a lot of subtlety, and a lot of piercing work, in the fittings made for Generals, Princes, and similar or higher ranks.

 

One step at a time. I told you once I have no natural talent at this sort of thing. It is fun, though. I didn't have any real natural talent at knifemaking, but got it somewhat learned. So, here I go again. It is a set of skills that I need to get at least somewhat proficient at them, so I can do the field grade stuff. If someone wants a true collector's piece, then they need to commission Charles Wu to do the fittings and let me just do the blade and woodwork.

 

thanks again.

kc

please visit my website http://www.professorsforge.com/

 

“Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” E. V. Debs

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