Sunday, June 14, 2015

Lazy day, but looking forward to some mayhem ( and saw straightening #3).

Cats have got it all figured out.

After a hectic and stressful week on the mainland, punctuated by a distinct lack of sleep, I'm back home in Hawaii, thank god.

Gabe ( has got me thinking about files, you know, the ones used for cutting steel. As everything gets progressively cheaper/crappier, there are increasingly more people that are searching for a decent file.

Handmade tools can elevate the mundane to the sublime.


Anyway, after thinking about files all morning, I remembered that Sebastian's "Project Mayhem" begins soon, and I am woefully ill-prepared. I need to finish up some of these tool projects that I've been working on.

A few weeks ago, Sebastian sent me a wonderful tsuki-nomi ( like a really huge chisel) and I have slowly been making it shiny and new looking. After scraping the handle clean, you can see that there are a few areas of iron staining near the ferrule.


Bring on the Jasco "Prep and Prime", a dilute phosphoric acid mixture that is commonly used to treat rusted metal. I find that it ( or "Oxpho", same stuff different name) is one of the only ways to remove the rust stains from wood without causing any appreciable change or discoloration to the wood itself.

Just dab a bit of the solution on the afflicted wood, then let it sit for a while. 15 minutes....1 hour, or in this case, overnight. Iron stains....vanished!

The real reason that I pulled out the PnP is that I need to get back to my Japanese saw renovation project. Since the phosphoric acid darkens the steel slightly, it serves as a dual purpose indicator dye.

After a few minutes, the saw blade has darkened nicely.



I like the phosphoric acid for rust treatment because, being roughly as thin as water, it will wick into any little nooks and crannies, slowing or stopping any new rust formation. The forge welded tang on this great little saw would be an unfortunate place to develop any corrosion.

And while I was waiting for the rust converter to "convert".....

My anvil has seen better days, and the face has been pockmarked by errant blows of the hammer. Since I am getting serious about tuning up this saw, I had better tune up my anvil a bit as well. A smooth anvil makes for smooth work.


My little shoeing anvil will never have a totally smooth face, but at least I can knock down the high spots, haha. 30 minutes of work, using a carborundum stone and bearing down hard, has it looking better than it has in years. Wonder of wonders, it's even flat!

Still, 30 minutes......Sometimes I miss having electricity.

So, the point of darkening the blade of the saw is that now all I need to do is take a few passes with the stone and the high spots on the saw plate are revealed.


I don't want to grind away material, as that would leave a saw with thick/thin spots. Probably not the end of the world, but it's not what I'm after.

The amount of work remaining on this saw is minimal, but requires more finesse than I have been using so far. Now, in a perfect world I would be using a nice little cross-peen hammer for this but I don't have one, so I make do.

I am going to start referring to this as my "Swiss army" hammer. One side for ura-dashi, the other side for saw straightening.....this hammer does it all.

I have slightly eased the corners and curved all edges, to minimize the likelihood of leaving any new marks. Oh yeah, it drives tacks, too.


A round of light tapping using primarily the corners of the hammer, followed by a brief stoning, shows how effective my hammering has been.

After one round of tapping, the bright spots are both smaller and more numerous. I am only using light taps, barely more than the weight of the hammer. You could do this all day and not get tired, as the rebound from the anvil does nearly half of the work.

Better yet after two rounds. I unpacked a pretty little Washita stone to use, instead of the big carborundum I was using. Not only does it fit the scale of the saw, it also just feels better.

Some very interesting patterns are beginning to be revealed. Underneath the random lumps and bumps is the evidence of structure and intent. This saw was shaped and carved. Very cool.

Unfortunately, it's getting late and my light is fading. I am looking forward to tomorrow's daylight.



  1. I like your hammer, it looks very similar to a small scross peen I have for peening my scythe blade. Its a bit on the heavy side but I find myself using it more and more. By the way, I spent last night reading about Orishigane and it is fascinating! Bloomery steel has so much character. So much skill knowing the steel wrapped up in it too.

    1. Ohhhhh yeah! Reading and thinking on the orishigane..... the thought of being able to alter the carbon balance up or down, depending on how the material is manipulated in the fire......truly there is magic here. Gives me the bright tinglies just thinking about it!

      Now if only my forge welding skills were up to task......guess that I better get busy on rebuilding my forge, haha. And the fuego. I would suggest a build-along, but you will likely be finished with yours before I even get my wood sawn, haha.

      My crap photo doesn't illuminate well, as the day was fading fast, but that is actually my little split back tack hammer, just like you are using for your saw tooth setting. 5 Oz maybe? Pretty small and light, in any event but even so, as I get further into this, I am needing to be progressively more delicate. I should thin down that handle some. That would be a help, and I like thin, whippy handles.


Like all of us, I am figuring this out as I go, so when you see something that is incorrect or flat out wrong (and you will!), let me know. This is a learning process. Real people and names, please. Constructive comments and questions are very welcome, but hate speak/politics are not! Life (get one!) is too short.

Thanks, Jason