Japanese Sword Polishing and Restoration BEFORE and AFTER

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This page shows blades polished by Japanese art sword polisher David Hofhine both before and after polishing.  Click on the Recent Work or Facebook link for lots more pictures.

Kunimichi wakizashi before and after
Before and after pictures of a 22 1/4" wakizashi signed "Dewa Daijo Fujiwara Kunimichi".  This one started out so bad, that I was concerned that it wouldn't be salvageable.  It was a very strong and well forged blade that came out nearly flawless.

Tadayoshi before and after
Close up of a wakizashi signed Hizen Kuni Tadayoshi with point damage and deep tipping rust.

Nobukuni tanto before and after
Before and after of a very early Nobukuni tanto.

Kaneyoshi sashikomi before and after
This 27 1/2" osruiage blade signed Echizen Kuni ju Kaneyoshi with double grooves on both sides polished in a sashikomi style.  This blade has 4 peg holes and was originally 6 1/2" longer!  This was a pretty tricky polish because of the bad pitting rust in the grooves.  Also, this type of sashikomi finish is actually more difficult to do well then the more typical keisho style finish.  See this page for more information on the difference between keisho and sashikomi finishing.

Yosazaemonjo Sukesada Before
This is the Before image of mumei wakizashi with papers attributing it to Yosasaemonjo Sukesada circa 1504.
Yosazaemonjo Sukesada
This is the same Sukesada blade after full traditional art polish.  See the Recent Work page for more pictures of this blade!  This is finished in a light keisho style.  See this page for more information on the difference between keisho and sashikomi finishing.

wakizashi before imagewakizashi after image
This is a before image of an unsigned 15 7/8" wakizashi.  The starting condition is pretty terrible.
This is the same blade after full traditional art polish.  An unsigned, ruined condition little blade like this has very little chance of ever making it to Japan for restoration due to the high cost, complexity and risk involved with getting a blade over there and back safely.

Iga no Kami Kanemichi BEFOREIga no Kami Kanemichi AFTER
This is a 17 5/8" wakizashi signed Iga no Kami Kanemichi. This one was a real mess to start with.
This is the same blade after full traditional art polish.  The first completed blade of 2013! 
Tango no Kami Kanemichi BEFORETango no Kami Kanemichi AFTER
This is a BEFORE and AFTER comparison of a 29 7/8" katana attributed to Tango No Kami Kanemichi. This blade started with a high quality 1970's vintage polish from Japan along with a little tip damage.  The hamon detail was very hard to see and it had what I felt was an excessive amount for grain showing in the shinogi-ji.

The original Japanese polish was very good.  All of the lines and geometry (most important part) were perfect.  It just needed a new finish that was up to modern standards.  I fixed the point and re-did the entire finish polish.  I kept the camera settings the same so it would equally represent both finishes.
Fujiwara Takata by other top American polisherDavid Hofhine's polish
This is a 26 1/8" osuriage mumei katana with a Fujiwara Takata attribution.  This was polished a few years back by one of the more well known professional Japanese sword polishers in the United States.  The owner was unhappy with the thick and muddy appearance of the hamon and kissaki and sent it to me to see if I could improve on this other polisher's work.  This blade had also been sent to Japan for shinsa and was somewhat scuffed up in the process.

Here it is after I redid the finish polish.  I had to take the ji all the way back to the chu-nagura stones to completely remove the heavy keisho finish.  This blade was actually pretty tough to improve on because the hardness contrast between the temper line and the body was very subtle.  It took a lot of meticulous work and my finest hadori stones, but I think the results speak for themselves.  I also repaired all of the scuffing along the edge and near the point.  A more precise attribution may be possible now that you can actually see the temper line.

Compared HEAD to HEAD with high quality Japanese polish
Sadatsugu Before Sadatsugu after
This is a close up BEFORE image of a 15 3/8" blade signed Hakushu ju Sadatsugu.  It started out with a very high quality professional polish by a well known Japanese polisher.  I was given the  daunting task of trying to improve on this finish.

Here is the AFTER image, after I redid the finish polish.  This was sent to me primarily to improve the hadori work and make the true features of the temper line more visible.

Full Traditional Art Polish!
Sukesada wakizashi before
This is a 13 7/8" wakizashi by Sukesada in rather rough condition.

Sukesada wakizashi after
This is the same blade after full traditional art polish.  It's gone from ruined metal stick to actually a pretty nice blade.

Oei Bizen base beforeOei Bizen base finishOei Bizen kissaki before Oei Bizen kissaki after
This is a 28.5" orsuriage Oei Bizen masterpiece.  All four of the above photos are of the same blade. This blade has great choji utsuri which unfortunately can not be seen very well in the photos.  I spent a full month working on just this one blade, confirming my status as a starving artist.

Kanemoto before
Here is an interesting example of a FINISH polish only.  Please do not let this blade give you the wrong idea about finish polishes.  Someone had used fine finger stones to clean this blade, so it looks pretty gray, but other than that it had a basically smooth clean surface.

Kanemoto wakizashi finish
Note the deeper scratches and small chips it had could not be removed with just the fine finishing stones.  I can't even tell you how many times people have sent me a rust spotted sand papered mess and expected super fine finishing stones alone to somehow clean it all up.  This is frustrating on both ends, so please read the description on the SERVICES page carefully about what can and can not be fixed by finishing stones alone.
Click here for more examples of finsih polish only.

Nagamitsu before finish polish
This is a 25 1/8" gendaito by Nagamitsu.   It suffers from a low grade early Showa era polish and a rather badly chipped kissaki.

Nagamitsu after finish polish and point fixing
Here is a nice example of fixing a broken point. This is the same blade with the point re-shaped and just a finish polish.
Tusnahide before Tsunahide after
This is a before and after picture of a 27 3/8" blade signed Oite Toto Kato Tsunahide tsukuru kore.  Dated Bunka ju ni nen hachi gatsu hi or August of 1815.  It is a very nice blade, but a bit blood thirsty.  It got me pretty bad twice!
33 1/2" Hiromitsu gendaito before and after
This is gigantic 33 1/2" presentation sword by the early Showa era smith Kajiwara Hiromitsu from Chikuzen.  This blade had been horribly abused over the years.  Before I started, I mapped out 14 specific individual bends in the blade.  The geometry had been completely ruined by severe rust followed heavy power sanding!  Click on this photo for a much larger image.

KaneIye Before pics
These are some BEFORE pictures I received from the owner of a 27 1/4" osuriage blade with a two character tachimei signature of Kaneiye.
KaneIye after pics
Here are some full length pictures of the same blade after polish.

Kunishige Before
This is a before picture of a 21 1/4" wakizashi signed Yamashiro Daijo Kunishige, covered in deep rust.
Kunishige After
Here is a closer view of the same Yamashiro Daijo Kunishige blade after full polish.  After about 2 weeks work, this blade has gone from junker to treasure.  This image shows the great activity in the hamon and ji-hada just above the ha-machi.

Yoshimichi before
This is a 15 1/2" wakizashi signed Tamba no Kami Yoshimichi in pretty rough condition.

Yoshimichi after
This is the same Yoshimichi blade after full polish. Note the kiku-mon in the hamon and the sunagashi above the hamon typical of a Yoshimichi blade.
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Please note, the blades featured on this web site are not currently in my possession, do not belong to me and are not for sale as far as I know. An absolute minimum number of blades (usually just one or two unmounted and unpolished) are kept on hand at all times to minimize liability.  -David Hofhine

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