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Hearth Steel Swords WIP


Aiden CC

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On 1/23/2024 at 6:31 PM, Carlos Lara said:

Looks good! I had to resoften and rewrap my tsuka with the ray skin something like 5 times. It's not perfect (the fuchi end has some small gaps), but it's as good as it is going to be. The next one will be better! Looks like you're going to put a kozuka/kogatana in as well. I have some urushi, but haven't started trying it yet either, so any tips or tricks you can pass along would be helpful for me!

Thank you! I’m currently stalling on the final trimming up of the samegawa. I have a kogatana blade ready and will probably use an antique kozuka as a placeholder while I wait to make one myself. It will be the only piece of kinko work on the sword, and I’m not sure if I want to keep it simple or try something more ambitious since it probably won’t be done for at least a few years. 
 

For urushi, if you haven’t already I would highly recommend checking out Tamenuri Studio (https://tamenuri.com). Another helpful YouTube channel: https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCzKMNIMHp9lbMBQ1uIBeqSQ . Dave’s work at https://islandblacksmith.ca had also been helpful. 
 

A sneak peak at the saya with one layer of fuki urushi as well as my improvised furo:IMG_8840.jpeg

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Thanks! I had seen Tamenuri and of course Crossed Hearts Forge (I own one of their kotanto), but the master flower the cat is new to me, so appreciate the referrals! I have still yet to figure out a furo for myself, but something like what you have looks like an attractive option!

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I got a bit more done on this last week, and it should now be in a good place for occasional attention once my courses and research start later this week. 
 

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I made and fit the kurigata along with a horn reinforcement for the mouth of the kogatana compartment and blended the cover for the channel I cut earlier. 
 

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I also made the horn kashira and glued on the same which let me drill the mekugi ana through it. 
 

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And now that long urushi process is underway, a little bit of painting and a lot of sanding. It currently has a second coat of sabi urushi curing. If I have a good level surface after sanding this one, I may seal it with one more layer of wiped raw urushi and start on the middle coats. Otherwise, I’ll apply a third layer of primer. I thought the surface was pretty good, but you can see all the high spots uncovered by sanding!
 

I want to apply a texture as well. This blade will likely have to do some traveling, so I want a finish that won’t show scuffs and scratches. In the back you can see some test coupons of different materials and techniques. I think I’ll go for red, at least if I can get it to cure properly without darkening too much. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Things have slowed down, but I’m still at it! 
 

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The kashira is polished and affixed to the tsuka, the first horn piece to be finished. 
 

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I also finished the priming process after seven total layers of lacquer. I’m very pleased. The final coat of sabi urushi only had a few places where I sanded down to the previous layer of primer. No dings or gaps, and hard enough to not be dented by a finger nail. This is the process that really gives an urushi coating its strength and longevity, and is what makes it act more like a composite than a paint. 
 

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Now for some color. The first coat of red is to stick down the texture, in this case sawdust sprinkled on it. You can see how dark the red gets when cured quickly. Also shown are some pieces that will be (late) Valentine’s Day gifts. The second coat of red goes on to saturate the texture, but I’ve found it best to dab it off after letting it sit for a few minutes. I’ll cure this coat over 2-3 days at a lower humidity, sand it, and apply another coat. I think 3 more coats or so should just about do it. 

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Looking good! They say you should file or sand down the bottom of the same with the emperor's node so you don't get a bump there. I did that on mine and it worked great. Maybe yours doesn't but in that one picture it looks like there's a bit of a bump! Otherwise looks great! Polishing 7 coats of urushi isn't a weekend project!

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/13/2024 at 12:54 AM, Carlos Lara said:

Looking good! They say you should file or sand down the bottom of the same with the emperor's node so you don't get a bump there. I did that on mine and it worked great. Maybe yours doesn't but in that one picture it looks like there's a bit of a bump! Otherwise looks great! Polishing 7 coats of urushi isn't a weekend project!

That may be the case. It was quite thin in some places, but maybe could have used some thinning there. The urushi was a long job to say the least. Definitely worth it to pick up a new skill though! 
 

On that note, the urushi is now done! 

 

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The red went on in a total of three coats, with some light sanding in between. 
 

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An unfortunate oversight is that the thickness of the lacquer means I need to make a new wider kurigata :mellow:  
 

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The lighting is poor, but here is everything starting to come together. Maybe when the sun comes out in a few weeks I’ll get some better pictures :D.

 

The remaining work is to finish the horn fittings and refine the polish of the blades. I will eventually make a kozuka as well, but that will likely have to wait for some time. 

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2 hours ago, Aiden CC said:

An unfortunate oversight is that the thickness of the lacquer means I need to make a new wider kurigata :mellow:  

 

That would have totally failed to occur to me too... :wacko:  Looks great, though!

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