Honyaki restoration project - Going to document my journey

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KasumiJLA

I make custom wa handle and I love polishing
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It's the first time I'm going to tackle a honyaki and I've embarked on a big project. It is a blade forged by a blacksmith in Sweden that is made of 26c3 steel, which is very close to a shirogami steel.

Do I like this blade profile, not really. It's halfway between a honesuki and a gyuto. But here the goal was to find an affordable knife to do my learning on this type of blade.

There are a gigantic amount of irregularities on the surface of this knife that I will have to correct. The steel is extremely hard and even with coarse sic powder (60~90) I barely started to remove any material. I am very far from starting to have fun bringing out the hamon!

I will also correct the shape of the choil to give it a curve that will be to my liking. The spine and the choil will also be polished. I'll see if I put the original handle back or if I'll put a personalized one on it, we'll see.

I will document my journey because I love this kind of publication of people who share the entirety of a project. I've often found interesting stuff here dating from 2012 so I think it might be useful to someone later.

So this is it, see you in 2 years with the final polish ๐Ÿคช

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KasumiJLA

I make custom wa handle and I love polishing
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That looks like a workout. Look forward to seeing results!
Oh yes it is, my fingers already hurt..! I estimate 2 hours on each side just to remove every imperfections with the coarsest grit I have. I hope that the dremel will be enough to change the choil shape too, otherwise it's gonna be a real pain in the @&# to do!
 
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Oh yes it is, my fingers already hurt..! I estimate 2 hours on each side just to remove every imperfections with the coarsest grit I have. I hope that the dremel will be enough to change the choil shape too, otherwise it's gonna be a real pain in the @&# to do!
I know they make diamond grinding wheels for dremel if the standard aluminum oxide drums donโ€™t work. I like the mesh grinding wheels for clean upโ€ฆ
 

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Oh yes it is, my fingers already hurt..! I estimate 2 hours on each side just to remove every imperfections with the coarsest grit I have. I hope that the dremel will be enough to change the choil shape too, otherwise it's gonna be a real pain in the @&# to do!
The dremel grinding bits will be decent at grinding choils on 26c3. You shouldn't need anything extreme there.
 

KasumiJLA

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First update : Choil is done โœ”๏ธ

First step done and I'm very happy with the changes I made. I particularly like the new geometry which is much more to my liking. Like @tostadas said the dremel was enough for the job but it took me a really long time compared to other projects I had done including yanagiba. I removed roughly 5mm at the deepest spot and it took me around 2h00 in total, including hand sanding.

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I tried several variants before making my decision and it is with this profile that I decided to start.

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I love redoing the choil on my projects so much and my dremel is only for that. It's super practical and above all much faster.

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Most of the work is done and then I sanded by hand. The progression is : 180-400-800-1,2k-3k and 7k.

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Like Rihanna said, shine bright like a diamond! I don't know if I'll keep the mirror finish, I'll see at the end if it's appropriate with the final polish. It is slightly rounded without sharp edges.

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Here is a side by side to see the difference. A little more space for the fingers and it looks much more aesthetic to me that way. It's also much more comfortable on the fingers.
 

KasumiJLA

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Really digging the new choil geometry, already massive improvement โœŒ๐Ÿผ
Thank you sir! Yes I'm really pleased with it and the photos do not do justice to the feeling of it in hand. I will continue with the spine today before tackling all the craters ๐Ÿฅฒ
 

KasumiJLA

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Seconde update : Spine is done โœ”๏ธ

Today I continued with the simpler part of the project. Nothing major but there was some finishing work to do. Since this part is softer because of the clay, it was super fast. It took me about an hour from start to finish. Now the fun is over and I'm going to tackle the most difficult part of the project. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

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There were some irregularities on the spine, like this notch, which prevented me from sleeping well.

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The finish was raw and you could clearly see the lines of the belt sander.

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I used a file to see if the steel was going to be soft enough and it was. I redid the geometry and equalized the angles. Now the sides are a little curved and it's much more aesthetic.

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Good old hand sanding! I used grit 180-400-1k and 3k. I'll leave it that way for now and see if I push the finish further in the end. For now it's a migaki finish and it looks nice. (Sorry for my dirty fingers ๐Ÿ˜…)

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Now everything is smooth and there are no more notches near the tang.

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I put the original handle back to see the look it would give. I'm not going to reuse this handle, it's big and bulky. I have a lilac and blonde buffalo horn handle that I'm going to use instead.
 

KasumiJLA

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Third update : No more factory scratches, pitting and low spots

This was the part I dreaded the most and in the end it went really well! There were many imperfections and in one place there was a notch about a millimeter deep. How long did it take me to put the perfect geometry back? 3 hours, 5 hours? Actually no, only one hour for both sides..! I will explain my method in the description of the photos.

I will continue to refine everything until the mirror effect and then I will see the direction I will take. Since this is my first honyaki project, I'm wondering if I'm just going to do the stone finish? Does etching is mandatory? I looked at a lot of everything that was done on KKF about the subject and there is not much outside (website, youtube, etc.). I may need your advice at this stage, friends!

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This is the technique I used to correct the low spots. Working on the side of my Shapton 120 the stone does not burnish and more pressure can be applied without worrying about a banana shape. The cut is super fast and it's easy to work the desired section. I was also able to retain the convexity of the knife. Obviously the shape of the stone will take a weird shape but I only use it for this kind of work.

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I present to you the magnificent low spots in all their splendor!

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Both sides are done in about an hour, myself I'm surprised! The Shapton 120 leaves quite deep marks so I will have to progress slowly on my coarse stones. I will continue with 220, 320, 400, 800, 1k before I get out the sandpaper and diamond pastes. I tried as much as possible to keep the blacksmith's stamp but there are parts that fade away. I'll see later if I'm able to redefine it.

 

KasumiJLA

I make custom wa handle and I love polishing
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Fourth update : I will have to be patient

I have to admit, I thought it was going to be easier. Way easier. After removing the low spots relatively easily, I got carried away and wanted to progress too quickly on my other stones. Classic mistake...

I did remove the low spots but I made so many marks with the shapton 120 that the work is now very laborious. I tried different techniques and the steel answered me with a nice "it won't be that easy Julien". I know now that I will have to be patient with this project because I want to approach perfection. At least, to the limit of my abilities!

Contrary to my old way of thinking, I find that this challenge and this lesson in humility gives me even more motivation. So I'm starting again with the 180 grain size and I'll give some news after the mirror finish with 200k diamond paste ๐Ÿ˜‰

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I did a quick test up to 4K and here is the monstrosity with the light showing off the scratches the most. I knew it was going to be awful but it gave me a good look at the scratches and the work that needed to be done.

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I also tried different techniques: sic powder, king stone, coarse diamond paste, diamond paste and sic etc. Since I am aiming for an impeccable mirror finish (the beautiful impossible challenge) I will simply continue with the sandpaper. Very slowly from 180 to 10k and then I will continue with different diamond pastes.

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I started the work again with the 180 grain and for 2 square inches, it took me 1h30. It's going to be the longest stage but I know everything will be faster afterwards.
 

KasumiJLA

I make custom wa handle and I love polishing
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Fifth update : the marathon continues after 16 hours!

The project is progressing slowly, but very well! I told myself to take my time to carry out my most beautiful project and I follow the game plan. So far 180, 240 and 400 grit are completed. It's a total of 12h15 of hard work to get to where I am now. It's downright a marathon, both mentally and physically!

I'm finally at the end of the coarse grit and tonight I'm going to start with 800. It's starting to go a little faster and it's more and more motivating! I can't wait to have fun with my diamond pastes..

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This is the kind of view I've had for 12 hours, erasing the previous lines. Here it is the junction of the grain 240 and 400.

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As soon as I finish one side I look closely with at least 3 different light sources to find the places that need to be done and I mark the scratches. This is the most important step because it's so easy to miss them. Then I go back to work on the sections and repeat the check until everything is perfect. Sometimes I can repeat this process three times before I'm satisfied.

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They are so subtle that even being 10mm from the blade taking this photo, I had trouble photographing them. The toughest place is right near the cutting edge and the tip.

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Finally seeing the reflection of my sharpie on the blade, man it's so satisfying. It's still very raw but it's really encouraging!
 
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First update : Choil is done โœ”๏ธ

View attachment 244705
I love redoing the choil on my projects so much and my dremel is only for that. It's super practical and above all much faster.


Most of the work is done and then I sanded by hand. The progression is : 180-400-800-1,2k-3k and 7k.
What is that dremel attachment? How many of them did u need?
What technique did you use for the sandpaper?
 

KasumiJLA

I make custom wa handle and I love polishing
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What is that dremel attachment? How many of them did u need?
What technique did you use for the sandpaper?
I used the aluminum oxide grinding stone bits (number 8193), I still have a lot of material on it to do other projects.

After shaping the choil, I used sandpaper wrap around a chopstick. It works really well. For higher grit I simply use my finger instead of the chopstick to blend everything smoothly.
 
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KasumiJLA

I make custom wa handle and I love polishing
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Sixth update : finally diamond paste!

Oh that there were strong emotions. The kind of emotion that tells you "come on, we don't care about this little scratch" or the classic "I'll correct that later". But I managed not to listen to myself and to continue to try to reach "perfection". It would be a bit ridiculous to cut corners at this point. Let me tell you that after more than 24 hours of sanding those bevels, your brain starts wanting to play tricks on you! ๐Ÿ˜…

Surely I could have gone faster or avoided small mistakes (like missing a scratch before continuing on higher grit then going back on coarser grit to fix my mistakes) but I allowed myself 2 hours a day to work on my project. So 24 hours of sanding doesn't seem that long over time.

The most enjoyable part begins and I will continue to polish until the most beautiful mirror possible. I am using TeachDiamond Tools paste and the sequence will be this: 1.2k-1.5k-2k-3k-4k-14k-50k-100k & 200k. I will try some etching test from 4k to see how the steel will react. I had already done some tests with ascorbic and citric acid but it was on the original surface, so it was not really representative. I will document this process of course because this is the part that I have no experience with.

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Finally diamond paste! Bye bye sandpaper, we almost had fun together.

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I went back and forth with the diamond paste and the sandpaper. The diamond really reveals all the imperfections and little scratches that wasn't visible. To be honest, it was really disappointing to go back over the sandpaper several times to fix a horizontal scratch. Here there are only a few small corrections to be made and then I can continue with the 1.5k paste.

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This is the disappointing moment to reach again for the 2k sandpaper and to erase those scratches. I used a hard backing with leather wrapped around it, held by a rubber band. Works really well!

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Oh! And I will make my own handle for this project! I bought a piece of ebony and ziricote and made some miniature test with this wonderful synthetic buffalo horn. Everything works really well and it will be a nice personal touch for this project.
 

Chang

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View attachment 247876
Oh! And I will make my own handle for this project! I bought a piece of ebony and ziricote and made some miniature test with this wonderful synthetic buffalo horn. Everything works really well and it will be a nice personal touch for this project.

That's some sick synthetic horn, where'd ya get it?

Ziricote is such a good, "cheaper", beautiful hardwood. Great choice.
 

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Sixth update : finally diamond paste!

Oh that there were strong emotions. The kind of emotion that tells you "come on, we don't care about this little scratch" or the classic "I'll correct that later". But I managed not to listen to myself and to continue to try to reach "perfection". It would be a bit ridiculous to cut corners at this point. Let me tell you that after more than 24 hours of sanding those bevels, your brain starts wanting to play tricks on you! ๐Ÿ˜…

Surely I could have gone faster or avoided small mistakes (like missing a scratch before continuing on higher grit then going back on coarser grit to fix my mistakes) but I allowed myself 2 hours a day to work on my project. So 24 hours of sanding doesn't seem that long over time.

The most enjoyable part begins and I will continue to polish until the most beautiful mirror possible. I am using TeachDiamond Tools paste and the sequence will be this: 1.2k-1.5k-2k-3k-4k-14k-50k-100k & 200k. I will try some etching test from 4k to see how the steel will react. I had already done some tests with ascorbic and citric acid but it was on the original surface, so it was not really representative. I will document this process of course because this is the part that I have no experience with.

View attachment 247880
Finally diamond paste! Bye bye sandpaper, we almost had fun together.

View attachment 247878 View attachment 247879
I went back and forth with the diamond paste and the sandpaper. The diamond really reveals all the imperfections and little scratches that wasn't visible. To be honest, it was really disappointing to go back over the sandpaper several times to fix a horizontal scratch. Here there are only a few small corrections to be made and then I can continue with the 1.5k paste.

View attachment 247877
This is the disappointing moment to reach again for the 2k sandpaper and to erase those scratches. I used a hard backing with leather wrapped around it, held by a rubber band. Works really well!

View attachment 247876
Oh! And I will make my own handle for this project! I bought a piece of ebony and ziricote and made some miniature test with this wonderful synthetic buffalo horn. Everything works really well and it will be a nice personal touch for this project.
That's a nice piece of synthetic horn. In use I assume it would be better than real horn, since natural horn likes to move a lot (and u end up with uneven transitions)
 
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Lots of hard work here๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

You did not use any synthetic stones after the shapton 120?

IMO using stones if far far far easier than sandpaper and/or diamond dust

The Nakagawa shiro 2 I did shocked me and was very easy. It was all stones up to 5k SP, then I used diamond dust from 8k-50k.

If I had know I would have used the Naniwa 12k SS to finish, and then burnished on Nakayama tomea.

Another faster shortcut is to burnish on shiro nagura after 3k synthetic stone.

You did great with the spine and choil by the way ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป
 

KasumiJLA

I make custom wa handle and I love polishing
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@Chang I ordered from a store called lee valley in Canada. I will use ebony wood for the final handle.

@tostadas yes Iโ€™m very pleased by it and I try to avoid animal stuff, so itโ€™s definitely a win-win for me! I will have to drill the hole before shaping the handle because it can chips a little bit though. Itโ€™s gonna be my first handmade handle so Iโ€™m glad that I did some tests before!

@EricEricEric thank you for kind words! Yes itโ€™s a lot of work and I could have cut the time spent on this by half if I wasnโ€™t looking for "perfection". But itโ€™s ok, I like to rub steel ๐Ÿ˜

I did used other stones after Shapton 120 (220, 320, 400, 800, 1k) but this is where I decided to go with sandpaper.

Maybe the next one I will make is gonna be done on stones but I doubt itโ€™s gonna be easier this way, at least with the jnat I currently own ๐Ÿ˜ฌ
 

KasumiJLA

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Seventh update : etching begins!

Now that the hard work is behind me, I can finally start having fun etching. I stopped the mirror finish at 14k, it was more than enough. So from the original state to 14k, it took me ~28 hours in total. The mirror is not perfect but I am super satisfied with the result. I therefore fall into unknown territory and this is the beginning of learning!

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I used a mix of lemon juice and 20% white vinegar. I also added 12 vitamin C capsule which I ground with the mixture with a small food processor.

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I then filtered everything with a coffee filter.

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The blade before etching at 14k. The reflection is super crisp and I'm happy how it turns out. (Special shout-out to my iPhone 7 which is still going strong!)

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Here is what I used. I also took care to always clean my work surface after each cycle. Instead of using Q-tips I used cotton pads.

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The first pass is done! I used a drop of dish soap to break up the surface tension and directly dipped the Cotton pad into the solution. I then applied everything evenly until the steel reacted with the acidity. I stop when I begin to see the softest part gently changing colour.

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Then I neutralized everything in a bath of windex (with ammonia) to stop the reaction. Then I rinse the blade with water and washed everything with soap. After I buff everything with a cotton pad with a polishing paste (Koyo) and a little bit of 200k diamond paste mixed to it. First cycle is now complete! It takes roughly 15 minutes for one cycle and I would like to reach at least 20..

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This one is the fifth cycle and after cleaning the blade with water and soap it really gave a beautiful patina. Can't wait to use this one for everyday meals prep ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Fifth cycle after cleaning the oxydation and that's where I am right now! Hamon is looking nice, what do you think? I also have a lot of banding in the softer part and with each cycle they begins to show more and more. I hope I will be able to show that with the final results.

I still have a lot of horizontal line, but keep in mind those photos are made with harsh light. I will do my best to erase everything but I have no illusions, it will not be perfect and it's ok! I only did the righ side because I want to see when I'll stop and then I'll repeat for the left side. And I also have to finish my handle.. this is a never ending project ๐Ÿ˜
 

KasumiJLA

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Super impressive. That mirror is crazy. The work paid off! When makers etch honyaki don't they usually dip the whole thing vs. paint the soft steel? Looks incredible either way. Such a cool way to show it off.
Thank you man! ๐Ÿ™‚ Yeah it was so tedious.. haha

I apply the acid all over the blade and I was actually recommended ( thank you for all the tips buddy @ethompson ) not soaking the whole thing. I want to work one section at a time and I don't want to touch up the spine and choil so it's win-win for me.

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And bonus photo for this awesome banding on the softer steel! I will have to play a lot to find the balance to make it pop but having the right colour/texture. Honyaki is really fun at this stage ๐Ÿ˜Œ
 

KasumiJLA

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While I was polishing I thought to myself that it would be nice to film the process. So that's what I did! I leave the link right here on youtube.

It's a complete cycle from start to finish, for those like me who are more visual. I don't know if I can leave this link here so don't hesitate to tell me if I'm breaking a rule ๐Ÿ’โ€โ™‚๏ธ
 
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