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How to Use the Uchiko Print  |  Back

From: Japan Woodworker

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How to Use the Uchiko

When to Use the Uchiko
In traditional sword care, the Uchiko ball is used as part of a regimen of inspection and long-term care of a sword before it is put into storage, while in storage, or after use. In this case, storage refers to a sword or blade not in everyday use. The blade must be inspected on a regular basis to prevent rust. To properly inspect a blade, the old oil must be removed, and the Uchiko is part of this process.

Charging the Uchiko
Our Uchiko is a silk ball filled with high quality Awase Toishi (natural finish stone) in the form of a fine powder. Before use the Uchiko must be charged to start the powder flowing through the silk. This can be done by tapping the Uchiko against a smooth surface until you begin to see powder emerge from the ball. A smooth surface free of debris is recommended for charging, so that no debris is picked up by the silk ball and the silk does not suffer unnecessary abrasion.

Using the Uchiko
The blade (sword or knife) should first be gently wiped with mulberry paper, tissue or soft cloth to remove the old oil. Uchiko may then be applied in one of two ways.
The most common method is to gently tap the Uchiko ball every few inches along the flat of the blade on one side and then the other.

The more traditional method is to hold the blade vertically (edge down/spine up) and tap the ball every few inches along the spine. The fine powder particles will be drawn to the blade while the heavier powder particles will fall past the blade.
The powder is then removed from the blade with another piece of paper, tissue or soft cloth by gently folding the paper, tissue or cloth over the spine and wiping the blade from hilt to tip in one direction. Remember, you are simply removing the powder and excess oil at this point – you’re not polishing nor do you want to scratch the blade. Once the powder has been removed the blade may be inspected, and a new light coating of oil may be applied to the blade, using a soft clean cloth or tissue.

Revised May 2013