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Sakura Menuki

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I just finished these Menuki Using Uchi Dachi technique. Based on Fords description of the process and pictures from a book I have been practicing. Similar to Reposse, but according to Ford Uchi Dachi is slightly different in that the tooling is only done from the top down. Sometimes the doming of the part is started from the back with a wooden punch. It is very sensible as you do not have to think inside out as with Reposse. Every antique Menuki done with this process that I have inspected is free of tool marks on the back side. There is often the tell tale orange peel texture on the back from the external deformation process. Starting with a flat sheet of metal set in warm Japanese Pitch, punches are used to push the metal around the design down. This leaves a raised and hollow shape. When the basic shape is formed the top is further refined with punches. Details are carved where they are needed. Polishing and Patina are done as normal. The process is very material efficient and the hollow back helps Menuki seat well on the Samegawa of the Tsuka (Japanese sword handle). This set is around an inch long with gold inlay. The base metal is copper.



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Thanks Everybody!



The pitch is home made according to a formula that Ford past to me. The main ingredient is Pine rosin. Ford supplied me with a bunch of the rosin, but eventually I will need more so I am harvesting the natural flows from the Pine trees around my house. (I live in a national forest so it is not hard to find) I like the idea of gathering the ingredients directly from nature. Ford will probably have the recipe and instructions on his new website. It is much more pleasant to work with than commercially made pitch and it smells like pine trees! I absolutly love the stuff.


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ps. How do you come by the pitch?


Karl, pitch is also available from NW Pitchworks.


I've found this pitch to be superior to other commercial brands. Some others don't seem to like it, but I use it all the time. There are three grades. I've only ever used the medium. I suspect if you were doing uchi dashi you would want the soft.

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Guest ford hallam

Hi Jim,


that's a good contact to know about there. thanks for the heads up. :(


Not having used their composition though and not having an idea of the relative hardness-es of the different grades I'd just like to add a thought. If the pitch being offered is being made up with the requirements of chasing and repousse in mind then the chances are that it will be too soft and resilient for most Japanese processes.


For inlay work it needs to be very firm, firm enough to crack off in chunks if hit with a hammer when cold. Even for uchi-dashi it needs quite a degree of hardness, we simply work it while still quite warm initially and as it cools and hardens it allows for more precise shaping.


Setters pitch might be a reasonable alternative. :) , but I'll post the composition and method of preparation of the Japanese mix that I use, if anyone wants it. :)


regards, Ford

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I know the requirements for inlay :) and have found the NW medium quite adequate. As you say, heating can adjust the give as needed. As always it's in the using of something that it's nature is revealed. Hardness should not be confused with brittleness. Unlike other, more brittle, commercial preparations, I have found this product very useful. Give it a go...


Would like to know your formula, sure. Toshimasa gave me his years ago, but I found this pitch to do what I needed so ....

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Aloha Jim,


Thanks also for the tip.

I was given some old pitch attributed to NWPW as medium. It was Poupon yellow, in a milk carton and I used it in an air conditioned classroom during instruction. No problem. Worked great. When I took it home, at room temperature, it oozed over the sides and flattened out. :huh:

I also tried, at some expense, red German (?) pitch as recommended by Yotkov, from Allcraft. (Also now from Rio Grande.) Much firmer even at room temp. Any misplaced blows can result in shards akin to flying shrapnel. :rolleyes:

I did look up the NWPW website, but did not follow through and leave a message. I will now.

So, I guess I need to experiment and compensate for my climate and workshop conditions. And the type of work.


Learning painfully.




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No Karl, you want the Grey Poupon. :rolleyes:


Actually, my medium NW is a dark olive. I wouldn't think the color difference would be that extreme, but maybe.

It is a process.


I think we should start a pitch thread and give Patrick's a rest.


No problem here, but the pitch information will be more easily found its own thread.


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  • 11 months later...

Hello all,

I am the owner of the wonderful menuki that Patrick made.

I have included two shots of menuki mounted on my wakizashi

The fuchi - kashira and tsuba were also made by Patrick.

(he also made duplicate fittings for my Howard Clark katana)

Needless to say - this is wonderful work!



Jeff Black





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