Thread: Keris handle
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Old 9th May 2021, 11:15 PM   #13
A. G. Maisey
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 5,774

I believe I can claim to have something more than average experience in removing hilts from keris, pedang & other items of tosanaji.

Whatever heat source you use it is advisable to limit the application of heat to the first few inches in front of the gonjo, hilt or guard, and heat each side of the blade alternatively.

The most simple heat source is a candle, works well, leaves soot on the blade which is easily removed with mineral turpentine.

A step up from that is a small kerosene lamp, same thing with soot.

These two heat sources are what I use when I am in Jawa.

At home I use a propane torch, I clamp the hand-piece of the torch into a bench vise & I pass the blade section through the flame and hold the blade with bare hand an inch or so in front of the area I wish to heat, by doing this I can gauge when the heat is travelling too far down the blade, then I just wait a minute or so before proceeding. I use a pretty gentle flame. remember, heat will damage the hilt, I hold the hilt close down to the mendak, if I'm not careful with heat placement I get burnt, and I've had more than my fair share of burn experiences, I do not like getting burnt.

Lately I've been using a heat gun. I tried heat guns years ago and I found that the hot air spread too wide and was too difficult to control. Two years ago I bought a modern heat gun and with this I can apply the hot air pretty precisely.

As you apply the heat you keep testing the degree of hilt adhesion by firmly twisting --- or at least attempting to twist --- the hilt, you twist and pull in the one motion.

Above all else, you proceed gently & with patience, if the hilt does not free up on day one, you keep coming back to it until it does.
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