[Video] Ryushi’s easy method of sharpening hidariba scrapers, part 1

Hidariba (lit. left-blade) scrapers are difficult to sharpen due to their curved shapes. Moreover, they would no longer cut (or scrape) if not sharpened properly. In this video, Komada Ryushi, a netsuke artist who is good at making and sharpening hidariba blades, demonstrates a sharpening method that he invented. This method is so easy that even beginners would be able to sharpen a blade without ruining it.

There are several key points:

1. Sharpen the uraba (the flat/back side of the blade) first.

2. Press down the blade not only with the index finger of your right hand but also with that of your left hand.

3. Move the blade in small strokes in the direction of the blade (vertically) instead of sliding it horizontally on the whetstone (as in the image below).

4. Sharpen the beveled side (which Ryushi calls “kiriha,” or the cutting edge) in the same way as the flat/back side, using the index fingers of both hands.

The tools used in this video are as follows:

1. Ceramic Whetstone #1000 by Shapton: “Ha no Kurokumaku: Orange 1000 Medium Grit Whetstone K0702” (See the photo below.)
Available at Amazon.co.jp and Amazon.co.uk. As for Amazon.com, this product doesn’t seem to be sold alone at the moment.

2. Lapping Disc (Fukkatsu Toishi) by Shapton
This is to flatten the surface of the whetstone (used in part 2 of the video). Available at Amazon.co.jp.
For those who have a device that can cut a whetstone: cut a whetstone #1000 in half, then one of the halves can be used as a whetstone and the other can be an alternative to the Lapping Disc (only for the other whetstone of the same fineness).

Whetstone #1000 and Lapping Disc, both by Shapton

3. Brush
A similar product available at Amazon.co.jp.

4. Water

5. Rag (small piece of lint-free 100% cotton cloth)
Commercial products are available (for example at Amazon.co.jp), while it’s possible to prepare one by yourself. For details, please check out my post on it (click here).

In this video, Ryushi holds the handle of a scraper between his ring and pinky fingers, while he says it is not essential to hold it this way. (Actually, in part 2 of the video, he holds the handle in an ordinary manner).

Incidentally, from about 4:30 to 5:05, Ryushi demonstrates the one-handed sharpening method that he learned from his father, Ryusui, who was a carver of ivory okimono (statuettes). Since this method is difficult even for him, Ryushi recommends the easy method he demonstrates earlier in the video (and part 2 as well).

Text, video, and photos by Komada Makiko


To watch the part 2 for further tips on
sharpening and how to maintain the
whetstone, click here.

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