Polishing and Sharpening a Sword’s Blade

After a blade is forged, folded, and quenched, it’s time to add its finishing touches. And while the Swordsmith takes care of the three steps from the previous phrase, adding these finishing touches is someone else’s job: the Togishi.

The Togishi’s job is a tedious one. It’s the longest, hardest work for creating an exquisite blade for any kind of sword. When the togishi is first handed the bare blade, it doesn’t look exquisite at all. Far from it.

While the forger takes care of creating the blade from a piece of metal, the Togishi is the one who truly reveals the blade’s inner beauty. He is the one who grinds, polishes, and sharpens the blade.

Coarse and Fine Grinding the Sword

When the Togishi first starts working on a blade, the first thing he does is grinding it with a grinding wheel and abrasive chemicals. The blade has to be grinded in order to remove all its imperfections and create the perfect shape.

Forging a blade isn’t an exact science – so the blade has many imperfections once it’s ready for the Toguchi. This is where coarse grinding the blade comes in, and is of paramount importance. Coarse grinding is done to remove the initial bumps and imperfections found on the newly-forged sword. It’s done with a harsher wheel and stones.

Afterward, fine grinding is used to reveal the finer details of the sword. It’s done with a finer grinding wheel and stone. Its goal is to prepare the blade for the next step: polishing.

Blade Polishing

Once the blade has its perfect shape and has been grinded thoroughly, it’s ready to be polished. This is where the Toguchi uses special stones to create the desired final effect: a mirror-like blade.

Once the blade is ground and ready for polishing, it still doesn’t reflect light in a perfect manner. If we put an object next to the blade, it will appear blurry.

Hand-polishing the blade (as in our special process at Swords for Sale) then ensures the blade becomes mirror-like. If we put an object next to it, it will be reflected in a beautiful manner and not be blurry.

Moreover, the Toguchi can use special stones in order to further accentuate the sword’s beauty. These are called “Hazuya” stones, and their use creates true works of art out of what might otherwise be normal blades. They’re used to create a “matte”, beautiful effect on any kind of blade. At Swords for Sale, we use these stones to create our Kobuse blades, as they look incredible on Folded and/or Clay-Tempered blades.

Sharpening

When considering a blade’s sharpness, we have to think on multiple levels. When the Toguchi sharpens the blade, he does so for certain very precise goals. Thus, the toguchi first considers what the blade will be used for.

  • If the blade is a bokken or used for martial arts practice, it can remain Unsharpened and raw.
  • If it will be used to cut through objects, the Toguchi hand-sharpens it with a special 13-step process and obtains a razor-sharp blade.
  • If the blade has to be used to cut repeatedly through multiple, harder objects, he uses a special Niku stone to sharpen the blade even more – and make it ready for the harshest of cuts.

If the blade needs to be sharpened, the Togichi first sharpens the whole length of the blade.

Afterward, he uses a special piece of cardboard along with fine sandpaper to sharpen the blade’s tip, also called the Japanese sword’s Kissaki.

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