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Old 19th September 2020, 10:08 PM   #1
JeffS
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Default Atayal Knife

I was pretty pleased to win this Atayal knife yesterday on Ebay. It came out of a lot from Japan. I've cleaned up and organized the Ebay photos a bit. I think this would be late 19th or early 20th C. The darkened area on the back of the scabbard is interesting, it looks intentional but not particularly decorative. That would be the part of the scabbard visible from behind per the style of dress/carry in the attached photo. Perhaps for stealth?
My plan to attack the rust is to start with white vinegar soak followed by sand paper, please let me know if there is a more recommended method. I am also wondering about repair/stabilization options for the rattan on the handle.
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Old 19th September 2020, 11:03 PM   #2
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Nice catch Jeff. These are not easy to find.
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Old 19th September 2020, 11:19 PM   #3
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Here are some I have had. They vary considerably in size, from knives up to full sword length. Blackening on the back of the sheath of the largest one is also present.
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Old 20th September 2020, 12:44 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Here are some I have had. They vary considerably in size, from knives up to full sword length. Blackening on the back of the sheath of the largest one is also present.


This is very similar in style to your middle example. On the large one, is the baldric original?
According to the seller this one 63cm OAL and 71.5cm in sheath.
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Old 20th September 2020, 01:03 AM   #5
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Default Rust removal.

Hi Jeffs,
White Vinegar yes, but domestic steel wool rather than sandpaper. Even a firm rubbing with a rag will often surfice if the rust is not too bad.
Very nice knife by the way.

Stu
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Old 20th September 2020, 03:55 AM   #6
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Hi Jeff,


The loop on the scabbard came with it and appears to have some age and wear. As far as the rattan, I would simply give it a light oil to moisten it up again. The rattan dries out in our climate and gets brittle over time.
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Old 20th September 2020, 11:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
Hi Jeffs,
White Vinegar yes, but domestic steel wool rather than sandpaper. Even a firm rubbing with a rag will often surfice if the rust is not too bad.
Very nice knife by the way.

Stu

Thanks Stu. Would a scotch-brite style abrasive pad be suitable? If not, do you recommend a very fine steel wool?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Hi Jeff,
The loop on the scabbard came with it and appears to have some age and wear. As far as the rattan, I would simply give it a light oil to moisten it up again. The rattan dries out in our climate and gets brittle over time.


I guess it is much too short to be a baldric or even a belt. I was curious after seeing the one that yuanzhumin posted in 2011 (image attached) which includes an interesting woven baldric. I have since gone through, via web search, a heap of photos and written material and seen a range of carry options including over shoulder and at waist (and even both simultaneously), as well as another example of a short loop. Waist carry seems the most common. I've also noted a range of belt/baldric materials including simple rope, bamboo strip, and a range of woven and beaded examples.
One would think there would be a bit more common practice within a tribal group.
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Old 21st September 2020, 12:11 AM   #8
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Here are some of the photos in case of interest
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Old 21st September 2020, 02:55 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffS
Thanks Stu. Would a scotch-brite style abrasive pad be suitable? If not, do you recommend a very fine steel wool?




I guess it is much too short to be a baldric or even a belt. I was curious after seeing the one that yuanzhumin posted in 2011 (image attached) which includes an interesting woven baldric. I have since gone through, via web search, a heap of photos and written material and seen a range of carry options including over shoulder and at waist (and even both simultaneously), as well as another example of a short loop. Waist carry seems the most common. I've also noted a range of belt/baldric materials including simple rope, bamboo strip, and a range of woven and beaded examples.
One would think there would be a bit more common practice within a tribal group.

Hi Jeffs,
Scotchbrite is quite abrasive. I would not use that unless the rust is stubborn. But anyway keep resoaking with White Vinegar and use steel wool, which should polish rather than scratch the surface.
Stu
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Old 21st September 2020, 03:20 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
Hi Jeffs,
Scotchbrite is quite abrasive. I would not use that unless the rust is stubborn. But anyway keep resoaking with White Vinegar and use steel wool, which should polish rather than scratch the surface.
Stu


Jeffs, Stu is totally on track in his responses about conservation.

Exercise patience, weeks or more or patience if you need to. Get yourself a good bronze brush too, it will help the process along... keep away from abrasive products unless you are very certain in what you are doing and can fully subdue the results with a proper polish.

Gavin
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Old 26th September 2020, 09:09 PM   #11
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Hello - here is a 5 day update and request for advice. I've been doing vinegar soak followed by brass brush and Rhodes Grade 00 steel wool about 3 to 4 times a day. It has been in and out of white vinegar continuously this entire period. Definitely an exercise in diminishing returns, a few very stubborn rust spots as seen on the photos remain. Overall the surface is covered in pits, I wouldn't classify them as particularly deep but very widespread. If I continue on this path I will end up with the stubborn rust spots removed but the overall blade quite rough from pitting. Again I'm inclined to move to sanding, starting at maybe 320 to subdue the pitting and moving up incrementally to 1500 grit for polish.
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Old 26th September 2020, 09:25 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffS
Hello - here is a 5 day update and request for advice. I've been doing vinegar soak followed by brass brush and Rhodes Grade 00 steel wool about 3 to 4 times a day. It has been in and out of white vinegar continuously this entire period. Definitely an exercise in diminishing returns, a few very stubborn rust spots as seen on the photos remain. Overall the surface is covered in pits, I wouldn't classify them as particularly deep but very widespread. If I continue on this path I will end up with the stubborn rust spots removed but the overall blade quite rough from pitting. Again I'm inclined to move to sanding, starting at maybe 320 to subdue the pitting and moving up incrementally to 1500 grit for polish.

Hi Jeffs,
Keep going with the vinegar soaking.....it will shift the rust, but GIVE IT TIME. If you have a piece of rigid brass (sheet or bar), you could use that to loosen the caked rust. Use it like a wood chisel. Brass is softer than steel so will not scratch it.
It looks to me as if there is still rust in those minor pits also.
Stu
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Old 26th September 2020, 11:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
Hi Jeffs,
Keep going with the vinegar soaking.....it will shift the rust, but GIVE IT TIME. If you have a piece of rigid brass (sheet or bar), you could use that to loosen the caked rust. Use it like a wood chisel. Brass is softer than steel so will not scratch it.
It looks to me as if there is still rust in those minor pits also.
Stu

Ok, back at it. Rigid brass sounds like a good idea. I'll see what I can dig up.
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Old 27th September 2020, 12:43 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffS
Ok, back at it. Rigid brass sounds like a good idea. I'll see what I can dig up.

Hi Jeffs,
I should have said that if you have a spent brass cartridge case somewhere around 303 cal, squash the open end and use that. Handy tool which I use often in this situation.
Stu
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Old 28th September 2020, 08:10 PM   #15
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Here we are now. The bumped contrast makes the pits seem darker than they are to the eye. Except for a couple small spots I believe the rust is completely gone now, perhaps one or two more soaking rounds. Note the blade on the open scabbard side has much more extensive pitting, you can see the outline of the staples. The question is, what next?

Also, please see the scabbard photos. What options are there for repairing the cracks? I've been feeding the wood oil for several days but the long thin crack at the foot of the scabbard is not closing. The crack series along the staples have wider gaps but seem more stable.
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Old 28th September 2020, 08:49 PM   #16
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Hi Jeffs,
Good job IMHO. I think you have now reached the stage where you need to decide how far you want to go. Bear in mind that the knife has age so unless you want something which looks "shiney new" I personally would not go any further with the blade (just my opinion) Some like to "restore" to the extent that all of the age patina is gone.
Regarding the scabbard, I would stabilise that long crack with a suitable wood glue, other wise there could be a risk of total breakage. The small cracks along the edge are probably age cracks, so I would leave as is.
Note the above is my opinion and no doubt others will have different suggestions.
Stu
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Old 28th September 2020, 09:22 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
Hi Jeffs,
Good job IMHO. I think you have now reached the stage where you need to decide how far you want to go. Bear in mind that the knife has age so unless you want something which looks "shiney new" I personally would not go any further with the blade (just my opinion) Some like to "restore" to the extent that all of the age patina is gone.
Regarding the scabbard, I would stabilise that long crack with a suitable wood glue, other wise there could be a risk of total breakage. The small cracks along the edge are probably age cracks, so I would leave as is.
Note the above is my opinion and no doubt others will have different suggestions.
Stu


Sounds like sound advice. Now that it is stabilized I will give it some time before deciding on taking it further. I can see how impatience could lead to something irreversible. Speaking of which, could you recommend a procedure for using the wood glue on the long crack?
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Old 29th September 2020, 02:09 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffS
Sounds like sound advice. Now that it is stabilized I will give it some time before deciding on taking it further. I can see how impatience could lead to something irreversible. Speaking of which, could you recommend a procedure for using the wood glue on the long crack?

Hi Jeffs,
Depends on how dry the wood is after you have oiled it. I would use PVA wood glue if the wood is dry enough. Apply glue and then clamp the crack together and allow time for glue to dry.
What is your plan regarding the rust on the staples? If you are able to remove them from the scabbard easily then maybe they should be soaked in vinegar also. I have never owned one of these knives so don't know how the staples are fitted. If they can not be removed easily then maybe rub some vinegar on them with a rag.
A word of caution....If you do remove the staples make sure you number them so they go back in the same place. They look to vary in length.
Stu

Last edited by kahnjar1 : 29th September 2020 at 06:25 AM.
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Old 29th September 2020, 02:58 PM   #19
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JeffS, I've been reading about your progress in the cleaning of your very nice and rare sword, and the only advice that I feel qualified to give you is"DO NOT REMOVE THE STAPLES."They will break, the wood will splinter and they will never go back in the way they came out. I would gently use the brass casing first and then sandpaper; make sure that the metal strips are supported from the underside as you softly apply pressure from the top.
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Old 29th September 2020, 04:05 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drac2k
JeffS, I've been reading about your progress in the cleaning of your very nice and rare sword, and the only advice that I feel qualified to give you is"DO NOT REMOVE THE STAPLES."They will break, the wood will splinter and they will never go back in the way they came out. I would gently use the brass casing first and then sandpaper; make sure that the metal strips are supported from the underside as you softly apply pressure from the top.


Good advice on supporting the staples from underneath. I hope to be able to remove the active rust but not lose all the dark patina.
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Old 29th September 2020, 07:19 PM   #21
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I agree with Drac. I had not thought of the staples being brittle. Leave them in and support from underneath.
Stu
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Old 13th October 2020, 01:36 AM   #22
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Here it is after finishing rust removal, oiling dry stuff and fixing cracks. Also, below is a close-up of blade detail. It looks like a layered construction versus an inserted edge to my novice eye. I find the perpendicular gaps interesting that track some of the layers.
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Old 13th October 2020, 02:11 AM   #23
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Hi JeffS,
What a difference!! Great job if I may say so.
Stu
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Old 13th October 2020, 05:53 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kahnjar1
Hi JeffS,
What a difference!! Great job if I may say so.
Stu

Thank you for all of the help Stu!
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Old 13th October 2020, 08:13 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffS
Thank you for all of the help Stu!

You are very welcome. Feel free to PM me if you need any other help.
Stu
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