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Old 13th June 2018, 11:21 AM   #1
jagabuwana
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Default Keris lurus/sepokal Bugis for comment

Hi all,

I won this keris in an auction (previous discussion in this thread, which was locked due to me breaking some rules - oops).

Based off contributions in the other thread, it is a Bugis sepokal/sapukala keris.

Here are some more detailed photos now that it's been delivered.

1) There is some kind of crater-like relief or depression clearly visible in the first photo. I doubt it's pedjetan, probably a defect or damage.

2) Significant corrosion towards the tip

3) Evidence of pamor?

4) Not a very pronounced sirah cecak, and quite a uniform gonjo until the buntut. The pesi is a little twisted at the end, but looks more exaggerated in the photo. Not sure if the oxidation where the pesi meets the gonjo is evidence of mechanically fixing the pesi to it, or something else. I tried to scrape bits off and bits of some fibrous matter seemed to come off with it, which definitely didn't seem like corroded steel but perhaps wood or cloth.
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Old 16th June 2018, 02:17 PM   #2
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Hello Novan,

Congrats for acquiring your first Bugis blade - mind you, they tend to be addictive, too!


Quote:
1) There is some kind of crater-like relief or depression clearly visible in the first photo. I doubt it's pedjetan, probably a defect or damage.

It might well be a defect from forging (i. e. missing layer of pamor) - this should be possible to verify once the pamor structure becomes clearly visible upon cleaning.


Quote:
2) Significant corrosion towards the tip

Looks like there's still enough metal to keep it as is. Of course, another option would be to re-profile the blade tip. Not something to decide now - clean it first...


Quote:
3) Evidence of pamor?

Pamor is obvious from the layered structure. The amount of possible contrast would only be visible after staining; however, many Bugis collectors nowadays prefer to only utilize weak organic acids like vinegar or fruit juices (despite historic evidence of warangan having been applied to at least some Bugis-style blades (IMHO quite likely for those with complex pamor). You'll probably be able to see some inadvertent staining during any gentle cleaning process.


Quote:
4) Not sure if the oxidation where the pesi meets the gonjo is evidence of mechanically fixing the pesi to it, or something else. I tried to scrape bits off and bits of some fibrous matter seemed to come off with it, which definitely didn't seem like corroded steel but perhaps wood or cloth.

Quite possible that these are textile remnants of an earlier pressure fit buried into the rust. You'll need to clean the blade thoroughly before being able to study the pesi-gonjo fit in any depth, I guess.


Ergo, 4 votes for gentle cleaning!

Regards,
Kai
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Old 17th June 2018, 08:58 AM   #3
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Thanks Kai! Definitely addictive. I spend a lot of my time searching for dressings online, though it seems very hard to find a sheath and wrangka. Understandably so.

Apart from arsenic being difficult to obtain outside of Indo, is there another reason why collectors of Bugis keris forego it?
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Old 17th June 2018, 04:33 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jagabuwana
Apart from arsenic being difficult to obtain outside of Indo, is there another reason why collectors of Bugis keris forego it?

I do believe it is fair to say that the currently accepted method of care for Bugis keris in general does not include warangan treatment. And we must, of course, carefully define here what we mean exactly when we say "Bugis" keris because we find Bugis style keris all over the archipelago since they were seafaring traders who set up communities in many parts of that area. However, i believe we have shown evidence that areas where today most collectors will claim no warangan has ever been used in maintaining keris did indeed use it to some extent. Perhaps not across the board, but that does not mean not at all. You can find an interesting discussion on this on this thread where some evidence from as early as 1839 has been presented that warangan was used th the Straits of Malacca area at one time. I can't really say if that was on Bugis keris, but it is certainly an area where today many collectors will insist that warangan has never been used. So this is not really a matter of absolutes i think.
http://vikingsword.com/vb/showthrea...=warangan+bugis
As for these modern times, it seems that the general practice is just to clean keris with lime and not to stain the blades. Though i do own a bugis blade from Sulawesi that, as far as i know, had never left the geographic area (so not stained by a Western collector) that i acquired from a dealer in Singapore that is richly stained black with warangan. When i received this blade some years ago it appeared to me that the stain was not particularly an old one (though if properly maintained a good stain can last many years). But i would image the stain was applied in modern times in a Malay setting. So it does seem to me that at least some people do use warangan on Bugis blades regardless of the general practices followed in this day and age. In the end i would suggest that it is your keris and therefore your choice. I also believe that some keris will undoubtedly look better without warangan while other will look better with.
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Old 19th June 2018, 10:30 AM   #5
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Thanks for the info David, and for the photo of your keris. Nice!

So if I interpret correctly, it seems that the foregoing of warangan by some collectors is due to the (supposedly erroneous) belief that Bugis-style keris weren't arsenic stained. But is something else typically used to stain the blade and highlight the pamor, if not warangan/arsenic? Or will acids like citrus/fruit juice suffice to show pamor due to etching?

Seeing as I won't have access to arsenic any time soon (perhaps ever), then this is an option I'd be interested in exploring, especially for this keris.
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Old 19th June 2018, 01:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jagabuwana
Thanks for the info David, and for the photo of your keris. Nice!

So if I interpret correctly, it seems that the foregoing of warangan by some collectors is due to the (supposedly erroneous) belief that Bugis-style keris weren't arsenic stained. But is something else typically used to stain the blade and highlight the pamor, if not warangan/arsenic? Or will acids like citrus/fruit juice suffice to show pamor due to etching?

Seeing as I won't have access to arsenic any time soon (perhaps ever), then this is an option I'd be interested in exploring, especially for this keris.

Well, i do believe that fruit acids will reveal the pattern somewhat, but not to the extent that staining the blade will. There are numerous alternatives to warangan, some traditional (i believe if you read the thread i linked at least one using rice and sulfur is mentioned) and some not so traditional. If you use the site's search engine and look for staining methods you will no doubt encounter many threads on the subject.
Most folks will probably say that industrial arsenic works best for this in that it is the most controllable substance you can use, however, you are correct that it is difficult to obtain. But people have also used Realgar for years and crushed it up to create warangan. It is an arsenic mineral and as far as i know it is not regulated like the industrial stuff. I have never used it myself, but i believe other on this forum have so you might want to do a search for that as well.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Realgar
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Old 19th June 2018, 05:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
I do believe it is fair to say that the currently accepted method of care for Bugis keris in general does not include warangan treatment.



I wonder, why they used pamor steel for Keris Bugis and never applied a staining? As far as I know arsenic must be added to the metal during the forging process to create the black phase of pamor steel after warangan. In my eyes it would make not much sense to add arsenic to the metal without later staining.

It might be interesting to know, that the staining is not really permanent. A little bit of metal polish is enough to remove the whole staining. This means the staining is not very resistant and need to be renewed after some decades or so, depending on environmental conditions and so on. Only under ideal conditions, in a collection for example, the staining can survive over centurys (in my hometown Dresden in the collection of the famous king August the Strong are two Keris from the 17ct. and the warangan is in very good condition. But that is an exeption).

Keris Bugis blades may had never been stained but what i can say for sure is that they were often or sometimes relief-etched. I hope someone knows, what etchant did they used? This would be very helpful.


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Old 19th June 2018, 11:07 PM   #8
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Novan:- going back more than 20 years, most, if not all, of the warangan that was used in Jawa came from Toko Vera, Pasar Gede, Solo. It was very good quality material and had been obtained prior to WWII, probably from China. Finally it ran out and the owner of Toko Vera acquired some more realgar, this time from India, it was absolutely lousy, unpredictable stuff and was withdrawn from sale. Toko Vera no longer sells warangan/realgar.

It is still possible to get quality blade staining done in Solo, but the stain job that is available to most people is not at all good, principally because of laziness in that the blades are not adequately cleaned prior to staining:- it is relatively fast and easy to restain an old blade that has been stained previously, but the cleaner that blade is, the longer it takes and the more difficult it becomes, so the people who do trade stains do the bare minimum work possible.

I do not know what is currently being used in Indonesia as the staining medium. I have been told, but I do not know if this is fact, that future import of both arsenic and bulk realgar has been banned by the Indonesian government.


David:- I would not suggest that anybody use industrial arsenic for blade staining, in my experience it can cause some very peculiar colours to appear on the blade, greens, yellows, reds. For most of the staining I have done, I have used laboratory quality white arsenic. This gives an excellent stain, as good or better than even the best warangan from Solo of the past, it is fast and totally predictable. However, in most countries any poison requires certification to enable purchase.

My preference for an alternative to a complete and correct stain is white household vinegar, on an old blade that has been previously stained this will sometimes give an adequate stain, not as intense as a proper job, but good enough. On other blades it will give the blade material sufficient contrast to permit the pattern to be seen.


Roland:- the original need for the use of pamor material in blades is not known with certainty, however there are several obvious reasons why pamor use would develop. A major supplier of iron in SE Asia was Luwu in Sulawesi, the iron ore involved was laterite and contained nickel, thus when used the final product appeared as a natural pamor.

http://www.oxis.org/theses/misol-2103.pdf

Other forms of pamor developed, most early forms being a combination of high phosphorus "white iron", and better quality material. The white iron was plentiful in Jawa from local production, mostly along the south coast, but high phosphorus iron is unsuitable for tool or weapon use, this local product was mixed with imported iron, and the result was what is now known as "pamor sanak", ie, pamor made from related material.

Meteoritic material that contained nickel was used in some very high quality keris made in Central Jawa from the end of the 18th century, and possibly had been used at times in the past. See Bronson, I doubt this paper is online.

Over time a blade made with pamor material became a benchmark of quality, and as talismanic attribution to pamor motifs intensified visible pamor became a necessity. It is notable that during times of war, such as, for example during the early 17th century, many blades required for purely weapon purposes were made from plain iron and steel, pamor use became restricted to keris and other weapons intended as pusaka, and for talismanic purposes.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring substance that is widely distributed, when it occurs in manufactured ferric material it was there from the beginning. Arsenic is not added to the ferric material during forging, when used to stain a blade it used only as a staining medium. See Georgia Harvey:-

https://aiccm.org.au/aiccm-publicat...o-103-june-2007

Blade staining is not intended to be permanent, it acts in much the same way that gun blueing acts, in that it impedes development of corrosion. The keris is indigenous to tropical environments, in the absence of some form of protection, rust can appear on a polished blade over night. By staining a blade through the warangan process it is protected to some degree against corrosion. In Jawa keris and other blades are regularly cleaned and stained. The clean/stain process is itself corrosive, and this is the major reason why very old blades that have remained in their countries of origin are now often only a shadow of what they were when they were new.

Keris are still relief etched, however the precise method used is a closely guarded secret.

Roland, in 2012 I visited Dresden and obtained access to the storage facility of the State Museum, my specific interest during my visit was the examination of early keris that were held by that museum, however, it is worth noting that in the storage facility (magazine?) a very large collection of weapons are held. If I lived in Dresden I would be making continuing visits to that storage facility.
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Old 20th June 2018, 01:00 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
I would not suggest that anybody use industrial arsenic for blade staining, in my experience it can cause some very peculiar colours to appear on the blade, greens, yellows, reds. For most of the staining I have done, I have used laboratory quality white arsenic. This gives an excellent stain, as good or better than even the best warangan from Solo of the past, it is fast and totally predictable. However, in most countries any poison requires certification to enable purchase.

Sorry Alan, when i said "industrial" i was thinking of lab quality white arsenic. I actually didn't realize there is a separate kind of arsenic like you describe. The white lab quality stuff is the stuff i have used.
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Old 20th June 2018, 01:11 AM   #10
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Yeah, there are several grades of arsenic, the industrial stuff I used was supposedly the highest industrial grade, but I couldn't get any acceptable result from it. There are industrial uses for arsenic, it used to be used to treat timber as a rot and insect preventative --- as well as other uses that I do not know.
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Old 20th June 2018, 04:07 AM   #11
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David - Thank you - there are indeed stacks of information about staining keris on the forum. I recall the sulphur and rice water method but I'll probably put this last on the list because I don't want to come home to my housemates gathered in a circle, dressed in hazmat suits, talking about how best to evict me I'll ask and look around to see where I could buy some realgar. I don't suppose I'd need too much to stain a single blade? (well, assuming that the first job is a good job, which seems unlikely).

Alan - Gotchya - thanks. In another thread from some time back you mentioned using cold blue to touch up some blades and rifles, and that while you hadn't used it to stain a complete blade, it is possible that cold blue could do the job. Have you since attempted this?


To all - Ferric Chloride gets mentioned a lot in my research into etching and staining. Would using FeCl likely give me a better result than fruit or acetic acids?
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Old 20th June 2018, 04:36 AM   #12
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No Novan, I have not yet tried cold blue on any blade that has nickel in it.

I have use ferric chloride a lot. Thirty years ago I was very active in custom knifemaking, I made complete knives --- not very well --- and I made a lot of damascus blades, random pattern, but good quality, that I mostly sold to other knife makers.

Ferric chloride works very well on new, well polished damascus, however I have not had good results when I have tried it on older blades or pamor material.
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Old 20th June 2018, 10:51 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
Ferric chloride works very well on new, well polished damascus, however I have not had good results when I have tried it on older blades or pamor material.


Hello Alan,

thank you for your explanation about pamor steel. My sources are obviously wrong and it is not just one. Someone made a translation mistake or so and many German authors adopt that mistake.

Ferric chloride on antique blades is difficult! Some users have very good results, my results with low concentrated FeC-etchants are always bad. FeC causes pitting on my blades and create a nasty surface. A good alternative is Iron III Sulfate with a concentration between 10 and 20%. Iron III Sulfate is a very weak etchant and it is almost impossible to ruin a blade with that etchant.


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Old 20th June 2018, 01:05 PM   #14
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I didn't manage to damage any blades with ferric chloride Roland, but I never did get a good result from it on anything but new, polished mechanical damascus.

I don't do that sort of work any more, but if I ever have occasion to need to do it again I'll give your recommendation a go.
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Old 21st June 2018, 03:00 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland_M

Ferric chloride on antique blades is difficult! Some users have very good results, my results with low concentrated FeC-etchants are always bad. FeC causes pitting on my blades and create a nasty surface. A good alternative is Iron III Sulfate with a concentration between 10 and 20%. Iron III Sulfate is a very weak etchant and it is almost impossible to ruin a blade with that etchant.


Roland


Interesting recommendation - thank you Roland. Have you personally etched or stained any old keris that contained nickel with Iron III Sulfate? If so, I'd be very grateful if you had any photos or examples of this work.

I'd be willing to give it a try, but as you might understand, I would first like to confirm if it is an appropriate substance for a blade of this age and composition.
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Old 24th June 2018, 01:29 AM   #16
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Update: This is the 7th day of soaking this blade in white vinegar (cooking sort).
I thought it was ready but after killing the acid with bicarb, gently scrubbing with creme cleanser and hairdrying, while it's mostly white, some either rapidly forms or becomes visible on some parts. Also some of the pamor comes out a glittering, slightly brass colour.

I was fairly sure I got the rust out from the crevice between the gonjo and blade, and it appears clean when dry, but rust appears again.

I am using a bristle brush to scrub it (slightly harder than a hard tooth brush) and when there were stubborn, harder chunks of rust I used a precision pick.

Is there something I'm doing wrong here, or is it just a matter of soaking for longer? I've removed from the soak, killed the acid and dried on days 5 and 6 also, and the same rust / brass colouring appears.
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Old 24th June 2018, 03:47 AM   #17
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Novan, what you have related seems pretty OK to me, but here is the thing:- if the blade is white and clean with no specks of rust on it immediately after drying, then it is clean.

At that point I would either immediately stain it, which you cannot do, or spray it with WD40 and allow to drain and dry on several successive days.

It sounds to me as if you are seeing surface rust that has been generated simply by atmospheric humidity, or something in the surrounding air, or maybe there is still a slight residue of vinegar or moisture in the grain of the metal.

I'm guessing that right at this moment it is sitting somewhere, nice and dry and waiting for you to come back and get rid of the nasty yellowish tint that has formed on the surface. If so, just let it sit and wait for a few days.

If you think you can give some time to it next Saturday, put it back into clean vinegar on say Thursday. When you take it out on Saturday, rinse thoroughly under running water and dry it, kill the vinegar by brushing a slurry of bi-carb over the blade, let it stand for 5 minutes or so, then in the kitchen sink using warm water, a toothbrush and dishwash detergent, give it a really thorough wash, followed by a really thorough rinse. Pat it dry with a lint free cloth, dry it well with a hair dryer, then go outside and drench it with a WD40 spray. Lean it point down against a wall and let it sit till Sunday, drench it with WD40 again, and again on Monday.

If you still have a problem, PM me, and I'll have a look at it next time I'm in Sydney.

What sort of container are you using to soak it in?
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Old 24th June 2018, 04:23 AM   #18
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Thanks a lot Alan, that's reassuring. I'll be sure to ping you if I still end up having issues The container is a plastic rectangular plant pot tray.

It's soaking in vinegar again now, I put it back in because seeing the surface rust freaked me out. Should I take it out, bi-carb it, detergent clean it, dry it and drench it in WD40 now?
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Old 24th June 2018, 04:47 AM   #19
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Nope, leave it there until you have time to do the followup wash and drench. I only said put it in on Thurs. because I figure it probably only needs a couple of days to clean that surface rust off and Thurs. > Sat. would be long enough.

If you have time during the the week, by all means have a look day by day and do the job then if you can.
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Old 24th June 2018, 07:38 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jagabuwana
The container is a plastic rectangular plant pot tray.

It's soaking in vinegar again now, I put it back in because seeing the surface rust freaked me out. Should I take it out, bi-carb it, detergent clean it, dry it and drench it in WD40 now?


Acetic acid from the vinegar is volatile so it evaporates quickly and partly looses its reactivity unless the container is closed, you should put a cover on it.
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Old 24th June 2018, 08:20 AM   #21
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I do not doubt for one moment that you are correct Jean, but I think I might have done something like 300 to 600 keris and other small blades during the last 10 years or so, and all I've ever used is open plastic troughs.

I have of course done more blades than the numbers I quote, however I cannot remember exactly when I started to use vinegar rather than pine juice, but it was certainly more than ten years ago.

Maybe the volatility of the acetic acid is the reason why the vinegar will never damage a blade, no matter how long the blade is left in it:- the acidity of the fluid decreases over time.

In any case, the advice I have given is exactly what I've been doing for years, and it works. For me, it always works perfectly.
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Old 25th June 2018, 07:11 PM   #22
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I also cleaned a few of my blades some 2 months ago, and those blades also quickly developed a brownish layer of rust when left exposed overnight.

I've just now taken one of them out of the vinegar bath, given in a scrub of bi-carb, cleaned it with warm water and detergent, dried it with a cloth and blowdryer, and soaked it with WD40. It's now in the garden, and tomorrow I'll drench it with WD40 again.

In some 2 days I'll inform you of my, hopefully successful, progress.
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Old 26th June 2018, 11:32 AM   #23
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Bjorn - please do. I'd be very interested to see how it goes.
Alan - okay, thank you. I've just given it the first WD40 treatment. I think there's still some yellow tinges to it but it was better than the first time around. I'll take a photo after the second treatment. I presume it's just a matter of repeating the process again to get rid of all of the yellowing?
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Old 26th June 2018, 12:45 PM   #24
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If the blade was clean and white when you did the final drying, it is clean, all you need do is protect it with the oil to prevent it getting surface rust again. But if the rust is still coming back you need to continue the cleaning. If it is a general light dusting of corrosion, scrubbing with steel wool is often helpful. Id know better if I saw it, but it may not be necessary to put it back into vinegar maybe just working over it with steel wool will get it back to white, just make sure you get rid of all the steel wool dust by vigorous brushing.
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Old 28th June 2018, 10:43 AM   #25
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Hello all,

Below the photos of the keris Madura I was cleaning. This keris was covered in rust from top to toe, so I'm quite happy with the results. The bi-carb and WD40 have kept that brownish shine from coming back.

Like Alan suggested, I also used some fine steel wool to get rid of some specks of rust. The only area where there is still a visible amount of rust now is between the gonjo and wilah, and some rust in the pejetan.
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Old 1st July 2018, 01:26 AM   #26
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Thanks for the tips Alan - I've done as you said and it looked a lot better. Here are some photos prior to my stain attempt with sulfur, salt and rice water - I'll have pictures of that in my next post.

Bjorn - thanks for sharing. Mine too was covered in rust. I think you might be able to get into those crevices with a pick to get the rust out.
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Old 1st July 2018, 01:52 AM   #27
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First time staining attempt:

I made up a paste of
*1tbsp powdered sulphur
*1tsp salt
*Rice water

I brushed it onto the blade after cleaning and drying, and covered it in cling/saran wrap.

I checked on it this morning and it looked like black squid ink and rust in there. I got worried so I rinsed all the sulfur off and gave it a scrub with detergent.

I have a feeling that had I left it in there it would have turned very black. This is what it has looked like after roughly 20 hours.

Based on the above, what should I be doing anything differently or should I have stayed the course?
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Old 1st July 2018, 05:26 AM   #28
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For that stain medium, I would be inclined to leave the stain at this point:- it is black, it is white, you can see the pamor; good enough.

Make sure all the sulphur and salt is off, WD40, dry, oil.
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Old 1st July 2018, 09:13 AM   #29
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Yeah you're right Alan, I'll do that. Though a part of me wants to re-do it with a paste with far less sulfur, and apply it more conservatively to see if the result would be more even. Then again I'm also afraid of overdoing the cleaning in a short space of time.

Also I think in my excitement I forgot that sulphur is no replacement for warangan, and expected something much more striking. It was a good learning experience though.

Anyway, I think I'll put this one down for awhile Thank you everyone, particularly Alan, for the guidance and input.
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