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Shigefusa Fixer-Upper

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wsfarrell

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A member in another forum found a 200mm Shigefusa sujihiki being sold on eBay; the seller didn't know what he had (he called it a Japanese carbon knife). I bid on it and won it for $170. It was pretty beat up (the seller admitted this and had lots of pics). I got it today and it was worse than I thought. In addition to a chipped edge, a blunt tip, and lots of rust/corrosion, it had a pretty obvious frown.

I dealt with the frown first, by "cutting slices" in a DMT extra coarse. This was extremely difficult to do (psychologically); it goes against my nature to intentionally dull a knife. But it worked.

I then stuck it in the knife vise and went after the corrosion with 220 wet/dry on a sanding block, lubed with water/Dawn. That went well, though there are still some shallow pits left in the hagane.

I then put it to the belt grinder to (a) fix the tip, (b) take the chips out of the edge, and (c) sharpen it. Sharpening was done using 320, 600, and 1000 grit belts on the front side only, followed by leather/CrO on the back side to deburr. This went well too; it's shaving sharp now.

Now for some before and after pictures. Here's the left heel before and after:




Here's the right heel before and after:




Here's the left tip before and after:




And the right tip before and after:




I'm probably not done with restoring it, but it's a really sweet knife now and I plan to enjoy it for a while. Comments welcome.
 

JohnnyChance

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I saw this after bidding was over. Nice grab and great resto so far.
 

Darkhoek

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Nice catch and a nice start on the restore. Tip looks ok now. However you will need to restore a sharp shinogi line to make the blade release the food as easily at is supposed to. Now it looks a bit rounded and you should be very careful now not to round it further. A sharp shinogi is also very important to be able to sharpen the knife properly. (BTW the shinogi line is the ridge along the middle of the blade)

DarKHOeK
 

tk59

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I also don't see an ura. Hopefully, it's still intact. Looks pretty though.
 

JohnnyChance

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Nice catch and a nice start on the restore. Tip looks ok now. However you will need to restore a sharp shinogi line to make the blade release the food as easily at is supposed to. Now it looks a bit rounded and you should be very careful now not to round it further. A sharp shinogi is also very important to be able to sharpen the knife properly. (BTW the shinogi line is the ridge along the middle of the blade)

DarKHOeK
I also don't see an ura. Hopefully, it's still intact. Looks pretty though.
He says its a sujihiki, but it does look like it used to a yanagi. I dont recall Shigefusa sujis resembling the yanagis at all.

Edit: Ebay pictures make it more like a yanagi. Plus it comes with a saya, which I don't think Shige includes for double bevel knives.
 

wsfarrell

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My apologies, I think it is a yanagiba. This is my first single-bevel knife, and I'm really ignorant on terminology. Willing to learn, and it looks like I'm in the right place.
 

JohnnyChance

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This does mean your restore may be a little more difficult. Like DH and TK said, you need to restore the shinogi line and hopefully the ura on the backside is intact or can be restored. How much sanding did you do on the left hand side of the knife when restoring the finish and removing the rust?
 

JBroida

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Nice catch and a nice start on the restore. Tip looks ok now. However you will need to restore a sharp shinogi line to make the blade release the food as easily at is supposed to. Now it looks a bit rounded and you should be very careful now not to round it further. A sharp shinogi is also very important to be able to sharpen the knife properly. (BTW the shinogi line is the ridge along the middle of the blade)

DarKHOeK
+1 and its a yanagiba for sure

also be careful with the ura
 

mainaman

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This is definitely a yanagiba,you are lucky I did not really want it, I stopped at $150.
I am sure it will do a great job for you.
 

Citizen Snips

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nice find and good work.

restoring jobs are getting more and more appealing as my experience and sharpening skill has increased over the years.

i just did one not too long ago and it was my first real restoring job. it can be a lot of fun but also lead to a lot of swearing and drinking.

well done
 

dough

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glad it went to someone who belongs here to show the restore.

goodluck finishing.
 

wsfarrell

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Good advice, all. Thanks!

The ura is intact. I learned a lesson about restoring while watching an episode of Antiques Roadshow. This couple had brought in a gorgeous old credenza that they had stripped and refinished. The appraiser twins looked it over and said "This is a legendary piece. If you hadn't refinished it we'd estimate the value at $250,000. As it is, maybe $10,000."

I will try to make the shinogi line a little sharper. I'd appreciate advice on grits: where to start, where to finish.

Thanks again.
 

UglyJoe

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A member in another forum found a 200mm Shigefusa sujihiki being sold on eBay; the seller didn't know what he had (he called it a Japanese carbon knife). I bid on it and won it for $170. It was pretty beat up (the seller admitted this and had lots of pics). I got it today and it was worse than I thought. In addition to a chipped edge, a blunt tip, and lots of rust/corrosion, it had a pretty obvious frown.

I dealt with the frown first, by "cutting slices" in a DMT extra coarse. This was extremely difficult to do (psychologically); it goes against my nature to intentionally dull a knife. But it worked.

I then stuck it in the knife vise and went after the corrosion with 220 wet/dry on a sanding block, lubed with water/Dawn. That went well, though there are still some shallow pits left in the hagane.

I then put it to the belt grinder to (a) fix the tip, (b) take the chips out of the edge, and (c) sharpen it. Sharpening was done using 320, 600, and 1000 grit belts on the front side only, followed by leather/CrO on the back side to deburr. This went well too; it's shaving sharp now.

Now for some before and after pictures. Here's the left heel before and after:




Here's the right heel before and after:




Here's the left tip before and after:




And the right tip before and after:




I'm probably not done with restoring it, but it's a really sweet knife now and I plan to enjoy it for a while. Comments welcome.

wsfarrell, I'm going to be a little bit more critical and say that you need to stop and take a step aback and learn a little about single bevel knives before continuing this restoration. At this point you are very near permanently damaging the knife. As some others have noted, it appears you've ground out the ura too much and the shinogi is almost gone. You need to do a lot of research on traditional single bevel knives before continuing with this, or you may irreversibly damage the knife. I'd recommend reading this first as it is a great primer on restoration of traditional japanese knives, particularly Shigefusas. Also, there are a ton of videos out there (I'd recommend starting with the ones that Jon has posted) on the proper way to sharpen traditional knives. Jon also had posted videos of the terminology for traditional knives, so if you get confused by naming during your research you can look at those.

Please, PLEASE do some more research on this subject before attempting to do anything else to this knife!
 

tk59

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wsfarrell, I'm going to be a little bit more critical and say that you need to stop and take a step aback and learn a little about single bevel knives before continuing this restoration. At this point you are very near permanently damaging the knife. As some others have noted, it appears you've ground out the ura too much and the shinogi is almost gone. You need to do a lot of research on traditional single bevel knives before continuing with this, or you may irreversibly damage the knife. I'd recommend reading this first as it is a great primer on restoration of traditional japanese knives, particularly Shigefusas. Also, there are a ton of videos out there (I'd recommend starting with the ones that Jon has posted) on the proper way to sharpen traditional knives. Jon also had posted videos of the terminology for traditional knives, so if you get confused by naming during your research you can look at those.

Please, PLEASE do some more research on this subject before attempting to do anything else to this knife!
I must admit, this is sound advice. You're already going have to remove more material than the original fix likely would have. I'd also be wary of using a belt grinder on it. The edges are extremely delicate on single bevel knives.
 

Eamon Burke

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Please consider sending this to someone with experience and tools. The grind on my shig is very good, and subtlely skillful in all the right places.

Amazing score!
 

slowtyper

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Can someone explain why the ura is not easily restored by just doing uraoshi?

And any tips on sharpening the shinogi? A friend's yanagi (stainless) has a shinogi that has disappeared. Its workign well for him and I doubt I will try to touch his knife, but just curious how to do it.
 

Darkhoek

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Can someone explain why the ura is not easily restored by just doing uraoshi?

And any tips on sharpening the shinogi? A friend's yanagi (stainless) has a shinogi that has disappeared. Its workign well for him and I doubt I will try to touch his knife, but just curious how to do it.
The ura on a single sided knife is all hardened steel (except on top of the blade close to the handle), thus the work involved is massive to restore the cavity as the hardened back will be hard to grind down in an even and uniform cavity along the full length of the blade. As it is already ground to a cavity it is hard to say how much hard metal there is, so if you are going to restore a concave ura from a flat ground one you might easily break through the thin hard layer.

The shinogi is restored mainly by sharpening the blade road until it is restored. If you have a totally rounded shinogi, this might be very very laborous and take quite some height off the blade. You might remove a little bit of metal on the face of the blade (where the kanji normally is) but this will probably destroy the fine balance between soft and hard steel in the kasumi structure and quite possibly cause the blade to warp due to the change in tension between the two laminated steels.

DarKHOeK
 

EdipisReks

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i had looked at this on my phone, last night, and didn't catch that it was actually a yanagi. definitely either learn more or send it to somebody else. my Yoshihiro yanagi had been badly misground on the back, and i had to flatten it out way more than i wanted to in order to get a proper edge. it's perfectly usable, but i've been restoring the ura little by little. definitely laborious.
 

UglyJoe

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The ura on a single sided knife is all hardened steel (except on top of the blade close to the handle), thus the work involved is massive to restore the cavity as the hardened back will be hard to grind down in an even and uniform cavity along the full length of the blade. As it is already ground to a cavity it is hard to say how much hard metal there is, so if you are going to restore a concave ura from a flat ground one you might easily break through the thin hard layer.

The shinogi is restored mainly by sharpening the blade road until it is restored. If you have a totally rounded shinogi, this might be very very laborous and take quite some height off the blade. You might remove a little bit of metal on the face of the blade (where the kanji normally is) but this will probably destroy the fine balance between soft and hard steel in the kasumi structure and quite possibly cause the blade to warp due to the change in tension between the two laminated steels.

DarKHOeK
In addition to this you have to be VERY careful with a belt grinder on the ura side. Even if you are just "deburring", if you hit the edge at anything but a flat angle you are probably going to actually put a bevel on the ura side of the edge. Then it's more metal removal from the blade road to get the edge to sit where it is supposed to be sitting, and you are removing even more material from the ura to get things the way they are supposed to be. If you've completely flattened out the ura side then the knife is probably toast. Dave has had a little luck fixing this before, but as DH says, you don't necessarily have a lot more steel to remove from the ura side before breaking through to the iron and throwing your knife in the trash.

When restoring the shinogi you also have to be very careful; it's not really just the shinogi that you are restoring, it's the whole blade road itself as well as the edge profile. This means you are dealing with all aspects of what makes a yanagi a yanagi. The edge profile, the geometry, the way the blade road is convexed from shinogi to edge and from heel to tip. Furthermore, if you must move the shinogi up some to get it cleanly done, you are probably going to have to do some work on the underside of the emota (the neck). In most cases, the shinogi is approximately even with the bottom of the emoto from the factory. If you have to raise the shinogi significantly then you might have to grind out some of the emoto as well. See this picture to see what I am talking about. The area marked in green is the area where the emoto needs to be raised to to have the shinogi and thus the blade road remain perfect. Not a pleasant process, and it requires handle removal and a deft touch.
 

UglyJoe

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Original post removed - Solicitation Not Allowed Dave

I noted that Darkhoek sent you a PM about restoring the knife. There are very few others who I would recommend more to do this. If you look at his blog you can see an old yanagi that he has already restored. Plus, he has a lot of experience with Shigefusa as well as natural stones, and the knife you would get back would actually be a Shig in all of it's glory.

I'm sorry if I came off as harsh in my criticism. If it were any cheap yanagi I would suggest you play around with it and learn yourself, but being a Shig, and being that you got it for an amazing price, you really should get someone to restore it who really knows what they are doing. I would then keep the knife unused for a while and buy a cheaper yanagi to play with and practice on. You would then have an excellent example of what to strive for when working with a traditional single bevel, something that most of us who have played around with these knives don't have!

Again, congrats on a great score and hopefully you'll end up with a blade that you can cherish for a long, long time.
 
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UglyJoe

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I noted that Darkhoek sent you a PM about restoring the knife. There are very few others who I would recommend more to do this. If you look at his blog you can see an old yanagi that he has already restored. Plus, he has a lot of experience with Shigefusa as well as natural stones, and the knife you would get back would actually be a Shig in all of it's glory.

I'm sorry if I came off as harsh in my criticism. If it were any cheap yanagi I would suggest you play around with it and learn yourself, but being a Shig, and being that you got it for an amazing price, you really should get someone to restore it who really knows what they are doing. I would then keep the knife unused for a while and buy a cheaper yanagi to play with and practice on. You would then have an excellent example of what to strive for when working with a traditional single bevel, something that most of us who have played around with these knives don't have!

Again, congrats on a great score and hopefully you'll end up with a blade that you can cherish for a long, long time.
Hopefully DH doesn't mind me posting a link to one of his restorations here. This is one of the most breathtaking a beautiful restorations I have seen of a yanagi ever. Great work, and really anyone interested in sharpening should have a look a this blog!
 

jwpark

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I guess this is sweat equity for knives. :)
 

bprescot

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Hey OP,

Hope you aren't taking the advice too hard. A shigi is an amazing piece of art, though, and the construction of these knives is so intricate and, for lack of a better word, delicate... hence the concern. Hope you don't feel like anyone's jumping on you! It's a great score and your willingness to take the restoration on is really commendable! Just maybe a bit on the ambitious side for a first outing :wink: Been around here for years, and I still don't think I'd have the cajones to do that job!

As others have noted, DH really knows his stuff, as do a few others, and I'm sure you'll have no shortage of people reaching out to you to offer advice, guidance, and help. Just wanted to make sure we didn't scare you off, cuz I think you'd really like it here! Anybody that plops down that kind of cash for a knife not knowing exactly what they're going to get, then plows right into a full-on restoration ... don't know. Seems like they came to the right place :lol2:
 

UglyJoe

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Hey OP,

Hope you aren't taking the advice too hard. A shigi is an amazing piece of art, though, and the construction of these knives is so intricate and, for lack of a better word, delicate... hence the concern. Hope you don't feel like anyone's jumping on you! It's a great score and your willingness to take the restoration on is really commendable! Just maybe a bit on the ambitious side for a first outing :wink: Been around here for years, and I still don't think I'd have the cajones to do that job!

As others have noted, DH really knows his stuff, as do a few others, and I'm sure you'll have no shortage of people reaching out to you to offer advice, guidance, and help. Just wanted to make sure we didn't scare you off, cuz I think you'd really like it here! Anybody that plops down that kind of cash for a knife not knowing exactly what they're going to get, then plows right into a full-on restoration ... don't know. Seems like they came to the right place :lol2:
Agreed!
 

TB_London

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I watched this knife tick down on eBay and was so close to bidding..... Id love to try and restore a yanagi but starting on a shig was just a step too far, really glad that it has gone to someone who's prepared to get it back to it's glory though, hoping to see some WIP pictures along the way too.
 
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