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  • uchiko on iaito

    I did a bit of searching and read repeatedly that uchiko should not be used on an iaito. I'm conflicted as my sensei said you could use it on the iaito, sparingly if that. Also, i have seen some online retailers offer kits with the little uchiko balls-on-a-stick. I ask this as I am finally able to purchase an iaito and I'm not sure whether I should get a kit anyways.
    btw, on using oil what can I use as a substitute for the expensive clothes.

  • #2
    Uchiko on an Iaito

    using uchiko on an iaito is not recommended. the blade on an iaito is chrome plated thus using an abrasive powder like uchiko damages the chrome plating. I use a sewing machine oil on my iaito....any light oil will do. avoid scented oils. Actually oiling your iaito is not necessary (remember? chrome plated?) but it does help you in NOTO. A thin layer of oil is enough.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Mitsurugi
      I did a bit of searching and read repeatedly that uchiko should not be used on an iaito. I'm conflicted as my sensei said you could use it on the iaito, sparingly if that. Also, i have seen some online retailers offer kits with the little uchiko balls-on-a-stick. I ask this as I am finally able to purchase an iaito and I'm not sure whether I should get a kit anyways.
      btw, on using oil what can I use as a substitute for the expensive clothes.
      Some sensei use uchiko of iaito to practice maintaining a "shinken".

      That said, using uchiko isn't a good idea for the iaito's health, becaues it'll remove the chrome finish.

      Depends on how you view your training tool, that's all.

      Personally, I wouldn't....

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      • #4
        I agree with the above - I dunno why most zinc/aluminium iaitos are shipped with a little polishing ball. Perhaps the hope is you will need to buy a new iaito from them sooner after you sand away the chrome finish.

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        • #5
          Not all iaito are chrome finished. In fact, in my experience most are not.
          Uchiko is NOT terribly abrasive.
          Its purpose is like that of talcum powder, to absorb stuff on the surface of the blade like skin oils and old choji. You would have to do lots of scrubbing over a long time to wear away the surface layer of chrome with uchiko. If your iaito is not chrome plated, it could possibly wear off the imitation hamon after a long while of use.
          Iaito do NOT need to be cleaned very often. They do not rust so occassional cleaning is all that is needed.
          Keeping your iaito LIGHTLY oiled is a good thing. It makes noto much easier by keeping your iaito from grabbing at your skin or on the inside of the saya.
          Always use choji when applying oil to your iaito. An iaito is a substitute for a Japanese sword, and should smell like a Japanese sword, not a sewing machine.

          These are just my opinions based on my experiences, other's may vary!
          Last edited by pgsmith; 20th September 2005, 04:36 AM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by pgsmith
            Not all iaito are chrome finished. In fact, in my experience most are not.
            Really? I'd say that every non-steel iaito I've seen (30 or so - of random manufacture) has had plating. And all the ones I've seen pictures of have been plated. Are you sure about this?

            Hank.

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            • #7
              Not absolutely positive as I said, but pretty darned sure. I know for a fact that my Nosyuiaido iaito is not plated as I put the kissaki into my living room wall (I got banned from practicing in the house for that one!) and had to fix the kissaki. After that, I started looking. It seemed to me that it was mostly the lower end iaito that were plated, with the higher end blades just being the aluminum alloy itself polished up. Of course, it could be that the lower end iaito just had poorly done plating and the higher end was much better done so I couldn't tell. I don't think so though. How could you tell it was plated from a picture?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by pgsmith
                Not all iaito are chrome finished. In fact, in my experience most are not!
                I don't know how many types of iaito are plated and how many aren't. I do know that mine is a zinc-berylium alloy blade. I hear Nosyu is zinc-aluminum alloy.

                It's actually kind of fun to test iaito blades...some blades will turn your cloth blue when you oil it...others won't. Not being a chemist, I don't know how or why it happens.

                My first iaito is the kendo-kata yo which I had thought I would use for both iai and kendo kata.

                I only used uchiko on it like 3 times or so...left scratches on the finish.

                Like you said, it'll take A LOT of uchiko to remove the plating, if there is any, but those unsightly scratches don't take too much applications to develop.

                The kendo-kata yo was suppose to be "harder" than the standard iaito too.

                YMMV.

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                • #9
                  Thanks. I guess I can save my money and not get a kit. Thanks for the info. Also, what could I use instead of the expensive sword cloths to wipe up the oil.

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                  • #10
                    cloth

                    you can use an old cotton t-shirt cut into strips or a flannel cloth. cotton cloth absorbs more than any other type of cloth.

                    and also a comment on the use of choji on iaito.... I won't waste my choji oil just for the purpose of lubrication for my iaito I'd rather use it on my shinken, and i am using an unscented light sewing machine oil for my iaito thus it wont smell as a sewing machine

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by pgsmith
                      Not absolutely positive as I said, but pretty darned sure. I know for a fact that my Nosyuiaido iaito is not plated as I put the kissaki into my living room wall (I got banned from practicing in the house for that one!) and had to fix the kissaki. After that, I started looking. It seemed to me that it was mostly the lower end iaito that were plated, with the higher end blades just being the aluminum alloy itself polished up. Of course, it could be that the lower end iaito just had poorly done plating and the higher end was much better done so I couldn't tell. I don't think so though. How could you tell it was plated from a picture?
                      You know - I guess I really can't tell a chrome plating from aluminum from a picture. I can tell chrome from aluminum in person, and I thought I could tell from a picture, but I can't (just checked).

                      However, aluminum alloys are going to need periodic polishing to keep them bright - they will get an oxide layer that will make them dull, unless there's a clearcoat finish. It's possible that your chrome plate is very thick, and the scratches from the wall incident didn't penetrate it, but if you really gouged it, it would have gone through the plate I would assume. Personally, I have a cheap iaito that I've sharpened on my ceiling many times and I can see where the plate has scratched off. So, yeah, I don't really know - we could call up Sword Store and ask.

                      Hank.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Hank
                        we could call up Sword Store and ask.
                        Geez, I hate to respond to my own post, but just for the record:

                        Rick at SwordStore says that all their Zn-Al iaito are chromed and that anything that is just polished Al is decorative and not strong enough for daily practice.

                        Hank.

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                        • #13
                          That's really interesting Hank. My iaito is definitely NOT plated. I had to reshape the kissaki with files and repolish it. Did a lousy job too, but it's just part of its character now. However, I got mine in 1996 so maybe things are different now? It's definitely strong enough for daily practice as it has seen such for almost ten years now without any problems. I am going to have to stop at next class and carefully check out everyone's iaito to see if I can tell if they're all plated or not.

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                          • #14
                            I have a 1001 from Swordstore (1.5 years old) that is definately plated. Whether this is true with Swordstore's whole line, I can't say. The 1001 is a fairly inexpensive model.

                            The 'hamon' has developed some longitudinal wear marks in spots from improper drawing, and one day I took some fine sandpaper to a small section, to see if I could try and restore the look in that area. After a bit, I could tell something looked a little odd; in the proper light, you can now see a slight gold tone in that spot, which I take to be the copper coat commonly added to the part before the final chrome finish. Seems I sanded a little too much, and went through the outer finish slightly.

                            I had thought about getting the blade re-chromed at some point, but until I can figure out a reliable way of re-applying the 'hamon', I won't bother. The 'bare' spot is barely noticeable anyways...

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by pgsmith
                              That's really interesting Hank. My iaito is definitely NOT plated. I had to reshape the kissaki with files and repolish it. Did a lousy job too, but it's just part of its character now. However, I got mine in 1996 so maybe things are different now? It's definitely strong enough for daily practice as it has seen such for almost ten years now without any problems. I am going to have to stop at next class and carefully check out everyone's iaito to see if I can tell if they're all plated or not.
                              Do you have to polish yours? I would really expect aluminum alloys to oxidize and need polishing every few weeks at least if there is no plate or clearcoat. It's possible that a good coat of oil would prevent that, but I don't know how well-oiled your blade is kept - mine is basically only oiled on the mune. Maybe yours is stainless (probably not). Put a drop of lye on the blade - if it etches, it's aluminum alloy, if it has no effect it's chrome-plated or steel (heheh).

                              Hank.

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