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Old 20th November 2013, 06:48 AM   #1
jwkiernan
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Default Palembang Keris for your comment

Happy Wednesday! After a brief technical glitch (thanks Lee, Rick and David for resolving this) I am back! Several members have made the suggestion to break up the keris in the post "Recent Additions" by type/area...honestly I needed help with this...so thanks to Kai and David we will begin with the first offering... Two Palembang keris.

The first features an ivory ukiran (absolutely marvelously carved), a medak/selut of suassa(?). The length is 15" (all measurements from the gandik side of the blade from the top of the ganja).

The second offering has a ukiran of horn, medak/selut also a suassa (?). 12" in length.

As I post these over the coming days, I'd humbly as that you'd please help me to understand more about these wonderful blades. Example; are these called Palembang due to the type of sheath/wrangka they are housed (one of the only commonalities I see)? Is Palembang the area they are found?

I appreaciate all of your patience, assistance and expertise...but enough of that...lets see some keris!
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Old 20th November 2013, 08:15 AM   #2
A. G. Maisey
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John, I think you might find that the hilt cup on the second keris is brass, possibly gold plated or gilded.

Palembang is in South Sumatra, it had and has long time political and cultural ties with the House of Mataram in Central Jawa, and was also influenced by Banten. Because of these associations the keris that come from Palembang very often have features that resemble either Banten keris, or Central Jawa keris.

"suwasa" (ngoko) or "suwaos"" ( krama) is low content gold alloy, supposedly anything under 14 carat. There are a lot of ways to spell this word, and there are other words for the same alloy. There is another alloy that is also called suwasa, and that is what we call in English "pinchbeck", the only way to tell the difference between pinchbeck and low carat gold is to get it tested by a jeweller.
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Old 20th November 2013, 09:16 AM   #3
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John,
Your first kris has a blade with ganja iras (integrated with the blade) which is very common in South Sumatra. The ivory hilt is in one of the specific Jawa deman styles from Palembang and a masterpiece indeed.
The second kris has a rare hilt in gana style which apparently originates from South Sumatra also although I saw some specimens fitted on Javanese krisses.
Both blades would benefit from cleaning and staining.
Best regards
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Old 20th November 2013, 03:51 PM   #4
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[QUOTE=A. G. Maisey]John, I think you might find that the hilt cup on the second keris is brass, possibly gold plated or gilded.

Thanks Alan for the information...my first instinct on the second keris hilt cup was brass, but I truly wonder if it is plated...no tarnish, no evidence of tarnishing.

"Both blades would benefit from cleaning and staining."

Jean, thank you for your comments as well. I have read several things on this board about cleaning/staining keris blades...where does one get this done? Surely no place in the States? As far as the cleaning (nontraditional) once I received them they where all cleaned to stop/remove any active rust, wood and ivory all hydrated. They weren't horrible, but they hadn't been given any "love" for a while.

Thanks again for the information!

All my best,
John
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Old 20th November 2013, 05:19 PM   #5
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I don't see any need to clean/stain the ivory hilted one.
I could stain the the other one for you John, but you might not get it back.
Both are lovely BTW.
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Old 20th November 2013, 05:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David
I don't see any need to clean/stain the ivory hilted one.


Well, the pictures are not very sharp but I seem to distinguish some black rust spots on the sorsoran and at the tip especially?
Regards
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Old 20th November 2013, 06:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
Well, the pictures are not very sharp but I seem to distinguish some black rust spots on the sorsoran and at the tip especially?
Regards

Your eyes are sharper than mine Jean.
Even so, if some residual rust remains on this blade rust removal does not necessary mean restraining.
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Old 20th November 2013, 06:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
Well, the pictures are not very sharp but I seem to distinguish some black rust spots on the sorsoran and at the tip especially?
Regards

Jean, the original shots of these are super sharp but I had to resize them all to upload them.

Each blade that had any rust on them have been worked with steel wool and oil in those spots. I have seen several times folks post about "picking" rust...I even tried that...this black rust seems solid and stable...should the blades be soaked in WD-40 for a time?

I'll do just about anything to preserve these things!

David, I may take you up on the staining...up to the part of the blade not coming back!

Keep the info coming guys...I am learning a lot!
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Old 20th November 2013, 07:01 PM   #9
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Hi John,

two very nice keris you have there, agree with the others about the origin. But like David I don't see any need to stain both blades. The second blade you can try to stain it with hot vinegar but I doubt that there will be seen a similar pamor like by the first one. The blade is very very nice, just stunning. I have a Palembang keris with a similar handle like yours, at weekend I will post some pictures. But yours is much better.

Regards,

Detlef
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Old 20th November 2013, 08:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwkiernan
this black rust seems solid and stable...should the blades be soaked in WD-40 for a time?



Hi John,
You can fully get rid of the black rust spots by soaking the blade in pure vinegar or 10% citric acid for 24h or slightly more with regular scrubbings (see example) but then the pamor contrast will mostly disappear and you would need to treat the blade with warangan or arsenic oxide.... Personally and from the pictures I would opt for the full treating process.
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Old 20th November 2013, 09:44 PM   #11
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To stain or not to stain?

These days just about every keris we see, from anywhere, is stained.

Buyers expect it. Try selling a keris that is unstained and you very quickly find out that the price a buyer is willing to pay drops through the floor.

Collectors, especially collectors in the western world do want the pamor pattern to jump out of the blade and blind them.

However.
My personal opinion, and it is an opinion, not a widely held piece of knowledge, is that this staining thing is pretty recent and might be able to be attributed to human laziness, or perhaps more kindly, a new direction in taste.

Last year I handled a lot of very old blades in European museums. None had any evidence of ever having been stained, the surfaces were smooth and polished, where a blade did have a pamor you needed to get it under angled light to see it.

Similarly, I have seen and handled blades in the Surakarta Karaton store rooms. Many old blades bear no evidence of stain. From memory,there is an old blade that has never been in use , on display in the Karaton museum, and that has a Bali-like finish and a very light stain.

Sometimes in carvings from the classical era we see weapons with rays of light emanating from them; I do not know if we can interpret this as a depiction of the blade having a spiritual quality, or if it is simply depiction of reflected light.

Until the regeneration of interest in keris that has occurred since about 1980, if I bought a Peninsula or Bugis keris from outside point of origin, say from Britain, or USA or here in Australia, these keris were usually polished, or at least, they bore evidence of an unstained finish --- not always so, but usually.

So, if I look at these keris that John has shown us, my inclination would be to do almost nothing.

The ivory hilted one I would probably give a good soak with WD40 or some other penetrating oil, then gentle selective cleaning with picks, a hard toothbrush and maybe a little bit of steel wool wound around the end of a sate stick. Wash with mineral turps and toothbrush, dry with hairdryer, drench again with WD40, allow to dry, then apply a long term protective oil and store in plastic film.

I find it advisable to use a 2X or 3X jeweler's loupe when doing this sort of work.

The horn hilted one I'd probably use a small acid brush and just apply the acid to the corroded areas. I'd probably use hydrochloric and I would not leave it to work and walk away, I'd be watching it while it worked. Then I'd pick the loose corrosion out of the pits and repeat and repeat until I got down to hard metal. When the corrosion was 99% gone it would get a light cleaning with vinegar or citric acid, get rinsed well, WD40 over night and protective oil and plastic film. I would not stain this second blade. Not if it was going into my own collection I wouldn't.

I've used a few "probably's" here. I've done that because if I handled these keris my opinions might change, but from what I can see the above is how I would proceed.

Old, dry wood, ivory, bone, horn, all respond well to repeated application of hand rubbed baby oil.

Naturally I would demount the blades before doing anything at all.
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Old 21st November 2013, 12:41 AM   #12
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Alan and Jean thank you so much for your input! Thank you Sajen as well...looking forward to seeing your keris.

I'd like to do as little as possible to these (and the others I will post in the coming days) as long as I can prevent further corrosion/erosion of the blades. Alan, years ago I posted a photo of a donoriko hilted keris and I remembered the baby oil suggestion...the first thing I did after receiving this lot was to hit the ivory with baby oil...I didn't realize the second one had a horn hilt until closer examination so it was lemon oiled initially)...I do lemon oil all the wood.

I do not see any evidence of the second blade having ever been stained (to my knowledge...which is growing thanks to ya'll).

I think I may try a good long soak in WD 40 (can't hurt anyway) to start. I do not have any experience with suing acid for this...I think I'll stick with the less evasive...Alan, what about the EvapoRust you posted about? Thanks again for all the info and advice...it is greatly appreciated!

Respectfully,

John
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Old 21st November 2013, 01:02 AM   #13
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John, I did contribute a comment to the evapo thread but I did not start it, and I know nothing about evaporust.

My favourite for cleaning used to be pure pineapple juice, I used that for over 40 years, but I cannot buy it anymore, so these days I use vinegar, and I think citric acid also has a future. In Jawa we use coconut water or lime juice.

In fact, any mild acid will do the job --- tomato juice,coca-cola, anything, but it helps if you know the stuff doesn't keep on working, that way you can leave it for a day instead of watching it. Household vinegar is safe.

NB:- my mention of hydrochloric acid was only for spotting, not ever for a soak, and when you spot with the stuff you stay right there and watch it.
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Old 21st November 2013, 01:29 AM   #14
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NB:- my mention of hydrochloric acid was only for spotting, not ever for a soak, and when you spot with the stuff you stay right there and watch it.[/QUOTE]

Alan, I was on the same track as you when you were talking about using acid on the rust...it would be plain bad to put that stuff anywhere but where you'd want it to work.

I have used vinegar to re-etch Moro blades, but never used it as a cleaner as well...I will also have to see if I can find some unsweetened pineapple juice here as well...again, thanks for all your inputs and suggestions...I am grateful.

Respectfully,

John
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Old 21st November 2013, 02:11 AM   #15
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John, I used to use real pineapple juice:- fresh pineapples from Queensland taken from the fields and immediately run through a press, then canned.

It was excellent for cleaning rust, and even better for drinking.

I can still buy pineapple juice but its made from imported concentrate and it is totally undrinkable and no good at all for cleaning keris.

I'm betting that the only pineapple juice you will be able to find is reconstituted rubbish from Brazil or somewhere. Don't waste your time or your money.
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Old 21st November 2013, 03:56 PM   #16
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Thanks Alan...vinegar and WD 40 it is! When you mentioned "wrapping the blade in plastic" I am guessing a seran-wrap/cling wrap type of thing, and if so, can it still be stored in the sheath this way? Again, thank you for all your help with this...as if I didn't see it before, learning and understanding the weapons we preserve and appreciate is a lifelong pursuit...one I think most all of us happily accept!

all my best,

John
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Old 21st November 2013, 04:06 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey

Last year I handled a lot of very old blades in European museums. None had any evidence of ever having been stained, the surfaces were smooth and polished, where a blade did have a pamor you needed to get it under angled light to see it.



Alan,

there are at least three old kerisses with preserved old staining, the first one in Dresden (Inv.N. 2895, I am sure you have it in your notices), the second one in Vienna, this one beeing mentioned in 1607. It has a Bali-like finish and deep blue-black staining. Also the keris of Peter the Great in Eremitage (St. Petersburg), which he bought in early 1716 (a twin of Inv.N. 2880 in Dresden, bought 1714), has an intact black staining.
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Old 21st November 2013, 10:02 PM   #18
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Yes, you're right Gustav, Dresden 2895 does still have evidence of a stain on the blade. I've just looked at my photos of this keris, and my notes. I have noted:- "This looks very much like a Bali blade but the greneng and rondha are very confused, single front sogokan, kruwingan into tikel alis, kruwingan to luk 3"

My comment that none of the early blades had evidence of a stained blade was incorrect, however, the vast bulk of these old blades do not bear evidence of having been stained. Thank you for refreshing my memory.

Before anybody asks:- sorry, but I have signed undertakings that prohibit my publication and sharing of images of any of these historic keris.
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Old 21st November 2013, 10:10 PM   #19
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John, I use plastic sleeves, I buy the plastic in Indonesia where it is used for food packaging, but cling-wrap works just as well, its just a bit more fiddly to use. Sometimes the keris will sit back in the wrongko, sometimes not, but even if it does, it won't display very well with the plastic sticking out the top of the wrongko. I normally do not display my collection, but I do rotate a couple of keris in blawongs, and these do not have plastic wrap when on display. The very worst way to store a keris is in its wrongko. Rule #1 for storage of ferric material is that you keep it out of contact with cellulose material.
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Old 22nd November 2013, 08:26 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
To stain or not to stain?

The ivory hilted one I would probably give a good soak with WD40 or some other penetrating oil, then gentle selective cleaning with picks, a hard toothbrush and maybe a little bit of steel wool wound around the end of a sate stick. Wash with mineral turps and toothbrush, dry with hairdryer, drench again with WD40, allow to dry, then apply a long term protective oil and store in plastic film.

I find it advisable to use a 2X or 3X jeweler's loupe when doing this sort of work.

The horn hilted one I'd probably use a small acid brush and just apply the acid to the corroded areas. I'd probably use hydrochloric and I would not leave it to work and walk away, I'd be watching it while it worked. Then I'd pick the loose corrosion out of the pits and repeat and repeat until I got down to hard metal. When the corrosion was 99% gone it would get a light cleaning with vinegar or citric acid, get rinsed well, WD40 over night and protective oil and plastic film. I would not stain this second blade. Not if it was going into my own collection I wouldn't.



Hello Alan,
I am probably not careful or patient enough but all my attemps to selectively remove rust spots have ended with a brighter surface than the rest of the blade, so an unsatisfactory result.
John, I attach the pictures of a Sumatrese blade before and after cleaning & staining so you can better appreciate my position.
Best regards
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Old 22nd November 2013, 09:33 PM   #21
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I've never experienced this problem Jean --- the brighter areas I mean. I have no idea why you have, and why I haven't. This spotting thing is something I've done for as long as I can remember, where the occasion demanded it.

EDIT

Jean, I've just gone back and had a close look at your blade. How was this stain job done? My guess is that it is probably a stain done either by the soak method or by the brush method that I myself recommend for beginners to use. When I've spotted a blade it would have been one that I stained myself, and I do not use either of these methods to do a stain.

My recommendation for John's keris was to use the spotting, then follow on with picking the rust away, by doing it this way you are using the acid to loosen the rust, but not dissolve it, that's why you watch the job, you don't want the acid to start eating away too much of the hard metal, you just want it to fizz a little bit, when the fizz dies down you leave it there a bit longer, wash it and go to work with the pick, its not a matter of leave it there and forget, you use it just like you'd use any tool.

I also recommended only a light vinegar clean when the rust was gone, and the purpose of this would be to get rid of any other dirt and possibly allow the metal grain to be seen.

There are a lot of processes and ways to approach a blade clean.

Last edited by A. G. Maisey : 22nd November 2013 at 09:48 PM.
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Old 23rd November 2013, 12:56 AM   #22
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Electrolytic rust removal is a good alternative to remove rust while preserving good metal. On the negative side rust spots will turn into pitting, this will be pronounced on the horn hilted keris Please experiment with some scrap metal to see if you like it/you haven't done it before if you decide to go this route.

I think light etching with your preferred acid and not stained such as Jean's example is more appropriate for both blades, but this might be personal preference, some blades look better with contrasting pamor, some don't. I have good result with phosphoric acid for light keris etching and also preparing my other restoration projects prior priming it with zinc chromate/iron oxide (I'm a rust hater).

Wax is a good alternative to oil and demand less maintenance.
As the rust is old/stable, it doesn't have to be removed if owner can live with it, this is the safest alternative of all.

I'd like to hear other members opinion on the origin of the horn hilted blade. It has no pamor as far as I can tell. Is it attributed to Palembang as well?
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Old 23rd November 2013, 01:51 AM   #23
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Yes, you could be right about the electronic rust removal TA, I've never tried it, so I don't really know, but it sounds as if its potential is very good.

As to whether rust should be removed or not, I cannot understand why this should be in question. It doesn't depend on one's personal preference for visual effect, it depends on whether one wishes to assume responsibility for the ongoing maintenance of the keris, or not. If yes, there is no option but to remove the rust. Rust that appears to be stable can easily be reactivated and a blade with stable rust requires a higher degree of awareness. A keris should not have any rust, not only because of the need for maintenance, but because of its status as a cultural icon and the obligations attached to that status.

I agree that wax is perhaps preferable to oil for a blade with a smooth finish. For modern custom knives I would always opt for wax, but for most blades from SE Asia, where the surface often has a high degree of topographic relief, weld imperfections, erosion, & etc, I don't really think that wax is a viable option.

The horn hilted blade bears many features that would permit it to be classified as Surakarta, however, it is impossible to give it this classification from a photograph, bearing in mind the long term association of Palembang with Central Jawa, it is more likely that this keris is a Palembang copy of a Surakarta keris.
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Old 23rd November 2013, 04:24 AM   #24
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...Great to see all the comments guys! I am learning more and more all the time...so much to learn!

Jean, as far as I can see the horn hilted keris has no pamor at all...seems to be mono steel (or skin over a core)...very uniform all the way around. The black/stable-now rust really bothers me on this piece but I want to take the less evasive route possible as I have not done this before (and I am guessing this blade is at least 19th century). I have others in my collection that you can tell were stained at one time...this one doesn't ever appear to have been stained...I could very well be wrong. BTW Jean, beautiful keris!

I have one pictured in the other post with a monkey hilt...that piece has a beautiful pamor...I can see the reason for staining that one and others like it.

I guess to me the most important thing is to make sure the blade is stable, wood has the proper moisture and they are cared for as I can tell they hadn't been cared for in a while...they sure get attention now! I am sue I, like most everyone else on the forums main objective is preserving the pieces for future appreciation...as a retired military guy I see these as weapons that defended person, family and country. They had/have an important part of their history, religion and culture...I just love them!

Again, thank you guys...keep it up...I love it...more keris to come! Have a great and safe weekend all!

Respectfully,

John
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Old 23rd November 2013, 09:09 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
I've never experienced this problem Jean --- the brighter areas I mean. I have no idea why you have, and why I haven't. This spotting thing is something I've done for as long as I can remember, where the occasion demanded it.

EDIT

Jean, I've just gone back and had a close look at your blade. How was this stain job done? My guess is that it is probably a stain done either by the soak method or by the brush method that I myself recommend for beginners to use. When I've spotted a blade it would have been one that I stained myself, and I do not use either of these methods to do a stain.

My recommendation for John's keris was to use the spotting, then follow on with picking the rust away, by doing it this way you are using the acid to loosen the rust, but not dissolve it, that's why you watch the job, you don't want the acid to start eating away too much of the hard metal, you just want it to fizz a little bit, when the fizz dies down you leave it there a bit longer, wash it and go to work with the pick, its not a matter of leave it there and forget, you use it just like you'd use any tool.

I also recommended only a light vinegar clean when the rust was gone, and the purpose of this would be to get rid of any other dirt and possibly allow the metal grain to be seen.

There are a lot of processes and ways to approach a blade clean.


Hello Alan,
As I said I was too hurry and rough with the stain removal procedure.
The staining was done by the warangan master Herman in Solo, he uses the soaking method as far as I know. One may find that the pamor contrast is too high but I like it like that and it can be attenuated if required and with time.
I appreciate what you recommend and agree that a light vinegar soak will correct any difference in brightness and colour of the blade.
Regards
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Old 23rd November 2013, 09:18 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tunggulametung
Electrolytic rust removal is a good alternative to remove rust while preserving good metal. On the negative side rust spots will turn into pitting, this will be pronounced on the horn hilted keris Please experiment with some scrap metal to see if you like it/you haven't done it before if you decide to go this route.


Hello Chandra,
If you experiment the electrolytic rust removal method, please give us some clues about the solution used, source of DC power and voltage, approximate treatment time, etc
Rust spots will turn to pits anyway as the rust eats away the bare metal.
Best regards
Jean
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Old 23rd November 2013, 11:07 AM   #27
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Thanks Jean. Yes, I thought it had been done that way.

Jean, the soak method of warangan is what is used for cheap commercial jobs. You can do a lot of blades for a low cost.

To get a truly good warangan job you need to use the massage method, where you brush the fluid on, then pinch and massage the blade with your bare hands. Not many people know how to do this properly, and even less are willing to do it, but the big benefit is that you can even out variation in the stain colour, and the stain itself will last virtually forever.
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Old 23rd November 2013, 02:35 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwkiernan
Thank you Sajen as well...looking forward to seeing your keris.


Hello John,

here some pictures of my Palembang keris with wooden gana hilt.

Regards,

Detlef
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Old 23rd November 2013, 03:27 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jean
Hello Chandra,
If you experiment the electrolytic rust removal method, please give us some clues about the solution used, source of DC power and voltage, approximate treatment time, etc
Rust spots will turn to pits anyway as the rust eats away the bare metal.
Best regards
Jean


Hello Jean,
If pineapple juice does not work because the rust is too thick ,I move on to electrolytic derusting using:
- any battery charger in the 4 amp to 20 amp range will work. (The lower the current, the longer it will take to get the job done)
Connect the Negative lead to the part that you want derusted!!!
-for the solution: About a tablespoon of household / washing soda to a gallon of water. (Fine bubbles will rise from the object when cleaning is in progress)
-after some hours scrub with Scotch Brite , rust scale is loosened and can be easily removed. Un-rusted metal is not affected in any way.


http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showt...=cleaning+blade
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Old 23rd November 2013, 05:33 PM   #30
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Detlef, thanks for posting the pictures...very nice keris indeed! The hilts are very similar indeed! Again thank you for the look! Have a great weekend (to all)!

All my best,

John
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