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Old 10th May 2019, 05:53 AM   #1
QuisUtDeus
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Default Identifying Pamor for a First Keris

Hello! I've just purchased my first keris. Can anyone tell me what the pamor is and it's magical meaning? I've looked through examples of pamors and to my eyes it looks like it could be one of three. Are there any signs that this is a pre-WWII blade? I want one that was smithed with rituals.

I slept with the keris under my pillow to perform the 'dream test'. No bad dreams, but the scabbard broke where it was glued. There isn't anything wrong with the hilt but it fits my hand very poorly. The mendak is really beat up.

If the blade is worthwhile I'll seek high quality attachments, but if it is a mediocre blade I'll look for mediocre replacements. I really like this blade. It has a strong aura about it. I really dig the pamor. But I don't want to 'overdress' it.

Attached are pictures of the seller's photos. The keris looks alright in them. It was was filthy when I received it, though. I didn't take photos of the dirty keris. I put some time in tonight to clean the blade. I've still got a while to go but much of the gunk is gone. Attached are some 'after' photos of my first cleaning. Parts of the blade have 'milky' appearance. There is some kind of translucent yellow/green.

Is my first keris an ok first buy? And what are the purported magical attributes? Any help would be wonderful. Book references and links are very welcome. I might make the keris a new hobby!
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Old 10th May 2019, 03:36 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum QuisUtDeus. Ambition tag , unless your actual name happens to be Michael.
Just a heads up...all new members are in moderated status at first. That means that your post won't appear until approved by a moderator. I won't also post your other thread since we don't want 2 separate threads going on the same keris, but since you added different information i will copy & paste the text on that other one to here.
Hello, all! I am new to this forum and to the blade hobby. I've picked up a keris from a property liquidation. I can't identify the blade's pamor. I'm hoping it is a pre-WWII piece. I want a blade created with rituals.

The handle is mediocre. The mendak is bent up. The scabbard is very poor. I slept with the keris under my pillow for the 'dream test'. No bad dreams, but the scabbard top snapped off.

The blade, itself, is very cool, though! I've seen very few pamors I like better. It carries a strong energy. If it is a worthwhile blade I will upgrade the attachments.

I think the blade is luk 15. Can anyone identify the pamor and its magic properties? Also, any signs the work is pre-WWII?

https://www.etsy.com/listing/646244...ld_out_detail=1
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Old 10th May 2019, 04:17 PM   #3
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I will try to answer some of your questions.
Firstly, this keris is presented in Balinese dress, but i am having trouble seeing it as a true Balinese blade. The greneng on the gonjo is cut rather poorly for a Bali keris and the gonjo itself does not look right and the sogokan do not seem to be nearly cut deep enough for Balinese standards. I believe the pamor is the standard Beras Wutah - scattered rice grain, but the blade certainly hasn't been treated in the typical Balinese manner of keeping the surface polished smooth. It is also a bit shorter than most Balinese keris of this era. I suppose that a Lombok origin is possible and i have seen Lombok keris in this particular sheath kekandikan style before, but i really can't be sure. I am inclined to think the blade may have a Maduran origin. Despite the obvious wear on this blade it appears more contemporary to my eye than older.
If you are concerned about "over dressing" this blade i personally would not seek any new components for this ensemble. The pelet timoho wood that is used is considered quite desirable and frankly this keris blade is fairly mediocre as Bali style blades go and does not require fancier dress. As for the handle, it isn't really mediocre per se, it is a very common Balinese bondalan form and i see no reason to change it. That it does not fit well in your hand should not make it unsuitable.
If this were mine i would cleanly repair the now broken sheath, clean up the uwer (mendak is a Javanese term) and re-stain if possible after fully cleaning the blade. A re-stain with warangan will do wonders for making theirs blade more attractive IMHO.
All that said, i would not consider this a "bad" first keris. I think most of us probably faired far worse on our first outing. What is always most important about any keris is that you like it. And just a warning...they are addictive! LOL!
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Old 10th May 2019, 07:52 PM   #4
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This is a quite decent kris IMO and it looks to have some age, including the blade (see the rust between the gonjo and the base of the blade). The Lombok origin seems a fair assumption, the blade has 15 luks indeed and the pamor pattern is a standard one, may be identified as Beras Wutah/ Ilining Warih according to the Neka book. Is the blade fitting neatly into the scabbard? Like David I would change nothing to it except cleaning the blade and uwer, and repairing the scabbard if needed. What is the blade length?
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Old 10th May 2019, 07:54 PM   #5
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Thank you! My name's not Michael, but St. Michael is one reason I've entered the keris community. A few effigies of him wield a keris. I've actually found a reason for this but it might be too far afield to post in the forum. I do think many of you would find it interesting, though. The reason begins with the keris, then delves into architecture, ethnography, astronomy, and ultimately eschatology. It gets pretty far out.

I'll get back to the subject.

I'm already picking up new parts. I'll save them for a nicer blade. I'll take pictures of the scabbard break for repair advice when I'm off work. It looks to me like carpenter's glue will work. You've given me a lot of historical references to go through. I appreciate it! Where do I get the staining compound? I may not use it, though. The milky look reminds me of a Fremen crysknife from Frank Herbert's 'Dune': a very influential book in my life.

The hilt only fits three of my fingers and my pinky rests on the pommel -- a really bad grip. I wouldn't want to fight with it. What sort of pommeled hilts give an extra few centimeters? Or what style hilts have no pommel?

I'm happy to get addicted to kerises! My audio and watch hobbies have cost a serious grip. The keris hobby is much more affordable. If it turns out this keris has meteorite I will be one happy dude. I read that an odd green color showing in the sunlight is a sign of meteorite. I'll have a good idea when the blade is thoroughly clean.

Thank you very much! I'm already looking forward to a new keris!
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Old 10th May 2019, 09:28 PM   #6
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The blade doesn't fit nicely into the scabbard. The angle of the blade base is too acute. As was mentioned earlier, the blade is short and the scabbard too long. It's not a bad fit, but it does bother me a little.

I'm happy it's a decent blade! Thanks for the identification. I'll keep all the parts as you've all suggested but I will be on the look-out for better fitting gear. The mendak really has to go, it's too warped.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 10th May 2019, 09:37 PM   #7
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Blade length was around 14.5 cm I think. I'm at work, can't check till I get home.

It does have a real aura about it. I've got a few modern blades (no kerises) and the steel is just steel. There's no kind of field about it. Is this field normal for a keris? Any members out there into mystic stuff like myself?
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Old 10th May 2019, 10:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuisUtDeus
Thank you! My name's not Michael, but St. Michael is one reason I've entered the keris community. A few effigies of him wield a keris. I've actually found a reason for this but it might be too far afield to post in the forum. I do think many of you would find it interesting, though. The reason begins with the keris, then delves into architecture, ethnography, astronomy, and ultimately eschatology. It gets pretty far out.

I would be very interested in seeing an effigy of St. Michael wielding a keris. I think you will find that what the saint is holding in these effigies is a generic flamboyant sword. The keris is not defined by a wavy blade and in fact most keris are of the straight blade or lurus variety. Still, i am glad that St. Michael could get you here, even if through an accidental misunderstanding.
Quote:
Originally Posted by QuisUtDeus
I'm already picking up new parts. I'll save them for a nicer blade. I'll take pictures of the scabbard break for repair advice when I'm off work. It looks to me like carpenter's glue will work. You've given me a lot of historical references to go through. I appreciate it! Where do I get the staining compound? I may not use it, though. The milky look reminds me of a Fremen crysknife from Frank Herbert's 'Dune': a very influential book in my life.
The hilt only fits three of my fingers and my pinky rests on the pommel -- a really bad grip. I wouldn't want to fight with it. What sort of pommeled hilts give an extra few centimeters? Or what style hilts have no pommel?

Well, if you are already picking up new parts i suppose you will now need to buy more keris and are already addicted.
I believe carpenter's glue will do the trick. Just work sparingly and cleanly.
To create warangan is a more difficult issue, especially in the United States (as well as other countries). It is a mixture of arsenic and lime juice. For the most consistent results a laboratory quality arsenic is best, but it is very difficult to legally obtain in the States. Suitable arsenic can be obtained from the mineral realgar, which is an arsenic sulfide crystal and i believe that is legal, but it is much harder to prepare as you need to grind the mineral up for use.
I do appreciate that you are finding your own reference points for this keris (St. Michael, the milkiness of Fremen's crysknife) and i will certainly not try to convince you that might be the wrong approach to take when developing an interest in keris, but i will share my own traditionalist approach anyway. I personally don't collect keris to convert them to my own personal paradigm, but rather to try to explore and understand the paradigm of another culture and era.
You will find that keris handles often don't fit the modern Western hand that well. They were indeed made for a typically smaller grip. I suppose that if i did intend to actually fight with certain keris in my collection i would have to consider a hilt form that better fits my hand, but i certainly have no intention of ever doing so and i am more concerned with keeping a keris as close to it's tradition form and condition as i can. Of course, your mileage may vary.
Quote:
Originally Posted by QuisUtDeus
I'm happy to get addicted to kerises! My audio and watch hobbies have cost a serious grip. The keris hobby is much more affordable. If it turns out this keris has meteorite I will be one happy dude. I read that an odd green color showing in the sunlight is a sign of meteorite. I'll have a good idea when the blade is thoroughly clean.

I don't want to burst a bubble here, but very few keris were ever made with meteoric pamor. These were mostly high end court blades made after the late 18th century. Green color showing on a blade in the sunlight is probably far more indicative of a poorly washed blade than one containing meteorite. There is quite a lot of nonsense written about the keris i'm afraid. You cannot always believe what you read.
Oh, and i can also assure you that keris hobby can be just as expensive, if not more, than an audio and/or watch hobby, and i do know that some watches can get pretty expensive.
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Old 11th May 2019, 12:08 AM   #9
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Saint Michael's flamboyant sword aside; if you want to see the keris in classic European art check out The Blinding of Samson by Rembrandt.

I understand enthusiasm; but learn more about this weapon form and its meaning within the culture before spending too much hard earned cash.
An educated buyer ends up happier in the long run.

"I read that an odd green color showing in the sunlight is a sign of meteorite. I'll have a good idea when the blade is thoroughly clean."

Well, this is not true; what you have been doing to the blade by cleaning is actually removing the original stain that the blade was given.

Last edited by Rick : 11th May 2019 at 12:27 AM.
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Old 11th May 2019, 04:34 AM   #10
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This is my first time learning about swords at all. Thanks for the flamboyant sword reference! It helps a lot. Things make better sense, now.

I'm sorry if I bother anyone with my customization ideas. I wouldn't dare do such a thing to a beautifully put together piece. The one I got is already mixed up, so I don't see anything wrong with experimenting. I'm learning through deconstruction, I suppose. It's my nature to work backwards.

If I've removed the original stain, it's ok. The rust and gunk really bothers me. I can find a way to stain the blade again, I'm sure. I leave the country every so often.

Don't worry about bursting bubbles. It just means more learning for me. I might buy a meteorite ring to act as a mendak. It is a really powerful substance.

Do you think the following arsenic will work? It seems to be available for sale online.
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Old 11th May 2019, 04:41 AM   #11
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Sorry! I really messed up the measurement. I meant in inches about 13.5. Cm is about 34.5.
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Old 11th May 2019, 08:39 AM   #12
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Hi QuisUtDeus,

I just started collecting Keris like yourself, so probably cannot comment too much, but I like your Keris.

It seems that you have what we call a dwiwarno pamor (combination of 2 pamors in one Keris). One is Beras Wutah, the other not so sure maybe Ilining Warih, maybe Wengkon.

Cheers,

Yohan
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Old 11th May 2019, 08:41 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuisUtDeus
Sorry! I really messed up the measurement. I meant in inches about 13.5. Cm is about 34.5.


34.5 cm is a bit short for 20th century Bali/ Lombok blades but older blades used to be in this size range. It is unfortunate that the blade & scabbard are not matching well, but the blade is not that short as compared to the scabbard for a balinese kris.
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Old 11th May 2019, 08:45 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuisUtDeus

Do you think the following arsenic will work? It seems to be available for sale online.


This is not arsenic trioxide as it should be?
Regards
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Old 11th May 2019, 10:54 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JustYS
It seems that you have what we call a dwiwarno pamor (combination of 2 pamors in one Keris). One is Beras Wutah, the other not so sure maybe Ilining Warih, maybe Wengkon.

Sorry Yohan, but i do not see dwi warno pamor here.
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Old 11th May 2019, 11:01 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuisUtDeus
Do you think the following arsenic will work? It seems to be available for sale online.

The short answer here in no.
As Jean has pointed out, what you need is laboratory grade arsenic trioxide. It comes in a crystalline/powdered form. Last time i checked it runs about $160 for a 5gm jar (smallest size). But you generally need special licensing to purchase it.
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Old 11th May 2019, 11:10 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
34.5 cm is a bit short for 20th century Bali/ Lombok blades but older blades used to be in this size range.

How old are you willing to consider this blade Jean? Most last 19th century Bali/Lombok blades tend to be 15 inches at least. There are, of course, exceptions. If you are not attaching greater age than that to this blade perhaps it is neither Bali nor Lombok.
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Old 11th May 2019, 11:17 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
Sorry Yohan, but i do not see dwi warno pamor here.



Ok my bad, I thought I saw dwiwarno pamor from the first photo, but yes the photo is not very clear.

Cheers,

Yohan
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Old 11th May 2019, 03:30 PM   #19
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The forum experience has been excellent! Thanks all!

If I get addicted enough to the hobby I'll take a trip to Indonesia during my next vacation to the Philippines. It must only be an hour or two away. I can wait to get a custom fit scabbard until then. I'll get the blade stained again if I like. I'm very fond of the food and kretek cigars, already. My cousin says the mestiza girls are pretty. I've found a lot of great books available there I'd like to buy.

I'm at work again. I can't wait to get off and see what more comes up here!

Thanks, everyone.
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Old 11th May 2019, 10:32 PM   #20
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I apologise for my late arrival to this thread.

I can see very little, if anything, of Bali in this blade. I do not see a current era blade, and I am inclined to the assumption that it is very probably of Lombok origin.

Flight time from Manilla to Jakarta is about 4 hours, add the 3 hour lead in time on international flights, the time to clear immigration and Customs in Indonesia, and the time to a Jakarta hotel from the airport, and you're looking at a day, hotel to hotel.

Strange as it may seem, carrying a keris into Indonesia can be difficult, occasionally disastrous. It is a weapon, all weapons must be declared on entry. Get an unsympathetic Customs officer, you can lose it, or at best be given the option of sending it back to where you come from.

Taking a keris out of Indonesia usually poses no problems, but sending one out by mail can become a nightmare. There are ways around the problems, and it helps if you can speak Indonesian and understand the societal mores.

Getting a new scabbard made to order, and having the blade stained may not be quite so simple as it might seem to be. Carefully refitting the blade to the existing scabbard and learning to do the restain yourself might be the wiser option.

The wood in this scabbard would be impossible to obtain at the present time, and even another type of wood that was equal in quality would also be somewhere between difficult and impossible to obtain. This is nice dress on this keris, and it should be retained.
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Old 12th May 2019, 04:21 AM   #21
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Wow! Thank you very much. I thought a quality scabbard would have hidden the jointing better. You can see the glue even in the seller's pictures. When my scabbard broke I didn't get at all angry or annoyed.

I thought it would be easy to get another scabbard. I've never had problem bringing blades into and out of the Philippines. I think my best option will be to bring it there and have a custom hilt and scabbard made. I like kamagong wood. I want a heavy single-piece scabbard without glue. I know a jeweler who can copy the mendak design and install worthy stones.

Everything is good news. My money wasn't ill spent. Thank you deeply for all your help. It seems that a point of origin isn't at all clear, and that is ok. The possibilities you've referenced will make good starting points for academic reading.

I realize everyone that's posted so far is of a very rational mind, but I do want to mention that this blade's aura is growing. I've been reading a lot of threads and the one entitled 'keris and spirit' has been very informative so far. A Swiss man mentions owning a plain keris that two sixth-sense people (like myself) would have nothing to do with. I showed this keris to a friend who also has sixth sense and he will not allow the blade in his house again.

The blade brings me nothing ill. I tingle when I touch it. Out of all the great looking and better quality kerises I chose this physically average piece. Out of the many hundreds of kerises I've looked at on the internet only two or three others appeal to me.

I hope a member with a metaphysical point of view finds this thread. There seem to be a lot of them here.

I'm sorry if my customizing offends anyone. I got this keris for metaphysical reasons and the accessories are all duds. I will repair and take care of them as a rational collector. No worries!
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Old 12th May 2019, 09:16 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey

I can see very little, if anything, of Bali in this blade. I do not see a current era blade, and I am inclined to the assumption that it is very probably of Lombok origin.


Thank you Alan and I agree with you.
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Old 12th May 2019, 04:47 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
I can see very little, if anything, of Bali in this blade. I do not see a current era blade, and I am inclined to the assumption that it is very probably of Lombok origin.

The wood in this scabbard would be impossible to obtain at the present time, and even another type of wood that was equal in quality would also be somewhere between difficult and impossible to obtain. This is nice dress on this keris, and it should be retained.

While i did at first suggest this keris might be "more" contemporary than not i did not intend to express that i thought it was new and i do agree with both Alan and Jean that it is not post WWII. I was think more early 20th century, but i am certainly willing to concede to more expert eyes that it may be older and yes, probably from Lombok.

As i mentioned before, this type of timoho pelet wood is considered very desirable. I would like to double down with Alan here and suggest that you not change out the dress on this keris. Despite the difficulties you would face trying to bring the keris both in and then out of Indonesia i definitely believe this dress is both appropriate for this blade as well as worth saving. You should not have too much difficulty adjusting the blade to fit better, especially if the stem is already disconnected from the top sheath. I also don't really see any indication in your photos that the uwer (again, it is not a mendak ) is hopelessly damaged. It should also clean up nicely with some scrubbing with a soft toothbrush.
I cannot emphasis more that as someone new to keri ownership it would be in your best interest to learn more about it before acting upon both cleaning and repair.
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Old 12th May 2019, 07:42 PM   #24
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I do agree with David and Alan.

And please, don't sleep with a keris under your pillow again. And if you insist to do, do it without the scabbard and wrap the blade in a white cloth.
Now you damaged the sheath

By the way it is a beauty. Well done for a first keris. Follow the advices for cleaning and repair given here and leave it as it is.
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Old 13th May 2019, 04:03 AM   #25
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Haha! Ok, ok, you've all convinced me. I've got a day off tomorrow. I'll go the hardware store to get some carpenter's glue. I'll finish the cleaning, too.

I remembered today that my uncle in Manila was a chemical engineer. I doubt he would have trouble finding the proper arsenic. We could use native, freshly cut limes. It wouldn't be troublesome to bring the keris to Manila for staining.

My uncle's retirement hobby is woodworking. It would be fun to make a new scabbard and handle just for a fun project. I could then claim proper keris addiction. This is all assuming he doesn't get a bad vibe from the blade like my friend and ban it from his house.

I'm very happy you all think the blade is pre-WWII! The seller was a property liquidator who said that the keris belonged to a deceased consulate to Saudi Arabia, whose son was being commited to a nursing home. I was hoping the keris was old enough to be smithed the ritual way.

If this energy I am feeling is normal for a ritually smithed keris, I am very excited! I already have two purchases lined up from one of the collectors on this forum. They're beautiful. I wouldn't alter them.

I've found a bunch of mystical thread topics. I'll go bother those guys with the spirit stuff!

Thank you very much for all your observations. I will have to keep going over this all. I've already forgotten the proper word for 'mendak'...
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Old 13th May 2019, 05:17 AM   #26
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Quis, to repair your scabbard you do not need carpenter's glue, in fact, I strongly recommend against the use of modern woodworking glues for scabbard repair, the reason being that if some of that glue gets in contact with the blade it will be highly likely to generate rust.

Before you think about gluing anything together the first thing you need to do is to clean away all of the existing adhesive very carefully, without removing any of the wood that it adheres to.

Then you need to make whatever adjustments are necessary to the scabbard in order to provide as good a fit as possible for the blade. During this fitting process you will have the opportunity to make the joint between the top part of the scabbard, and the lower part of the scabbard neater than is presently the case.

Probably the very best adhesive for this scabbard joint is 5 minute Araldite, tinted with a tiny amount of burnt umber powder.

Bring the parts together, insert the blade and ensure you have a satisfactory fit. Sometimes the joint will be a little bit loose, a few very thin slices of bambu will take up the slack, even ordinary note paper can be used for this, but bambu is better. You put one slice on at a time, use the Araldite, until you have a joint that fits together without slack. Test the fit of the blade, it should be perfect at this time.Ensure the faces of the joint from the top to the lower part meet smoothly, this fit can be adjusted by the slices of bambu or paper. When you have everything just as it should be you can go ahead with the glue job.

Remove the blade from the scabbard and make a wedge from softwood that will exert light pressure against the two tongues that slip into the top part of the scabbard. Lightly coat the wedge with silicon car polish, this acts as a release agent.

Lightly score the surfaces of the tongues and the meeting surfaces inside the scabbard top, lightly brush silicon car polish onto your blade and set it aside, but within reach.

Mix your Araldite and put a very, very thin coating onto the meeting surfaces.

Insert your blade into the scabbard and align it to the top surface of the scabbard.

Hold the two parts of the scabbard in position with your left hand, remove the blade, insert the wedge.

Set the scabbard aside and upright, wait a few minutes until the adhesive has dried but not set, carefully scrape off any excess adhesive around the joint, both inside and out. Use a wooden scraper for outside, knives and chisels for inside. Wipe the outside with methylated spirits.

Check the blade for adhesive, remove any adhesive with a wooden scraper. Brush the blade with a toothbrush and methylated spirits to remove the car polish. Spray and brush with WD40 to remove the methylated spirits.

This might sound like a lot of work. It is not. Somebody who has done this job a few times will do the whole thing, including the joint clean up in about 30 minutes. Fitting and aligning can take a lot longer, but that depends on how bad the present fit is.

It is a good idea to check the blade fit before the adhesive cures and hardens. If the fit is not satisfactory, it is reasonably easy to break open the joint, clean it up, and do the job again. If the adhesive is permitted to cure and harden before checking, the job to correct fit becomes more difficult and uses much more time.
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Old 13th May 2019, 03:04 PM   #27
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Mr. A.G., you wrote just in time. I'm out of bed and was going to leave for the store soon. Attached are pictures of the break. The break isn't clean in the back; the glue is in tact and crack carries into the warangka (I think that's the word). How do I remove all this glue?
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Old 13th May 2019, 03:06 PM   #28
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Pictures of break and how it fits together:
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Old 13th May 2019, 04:13 PM   #29
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Also, I was planning to do a short lime juice bath as the final step for the cleaning. Should the seeds be strained? It's very important in cooking food. I don't see why it wouldn't be with iron. Many Indonesian members are very picky about the oil so I figure this would extend to the lime.
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Old 13th May 2019, 04:59 PM   #30
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I can't find the glue and dye you recommended, Mr. A.G. I'll have to order them online and finish the woodwork later. What exactly is this 'bambu'?

There is a little wiggle in the base fit. What do I fill that with? I think for the warangka to match the shape of the blade I would have to do a lot of sanding. I don't do woodwork so don't have machines. It would have to be by hand.
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