View Full Version : Varnish on weapons

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Jesse Lee
06-26-2003, 02:20 PM
I have a new jo from Bu Jin Designs. It is varnished, which has this annoying tendency to stick in my grip when I tsuki.

I'm thinking of sanding it all off, and I figured *somebody* out here has an opinion about it. Should I, or shouldn't I? Is varnish desirable or not, on weapons?

06-26-2003, 03:29 PM
I personally,.. dislike varnished weapons. Especial with jos.

I had a not varnished and very very very polished jo and it was just perfect,.. until it broke,.. I have been looking for a new one,...and Iím going to make it by myself,.. and polish and polish it again. You can do it.


Fiona D
06-27-2003, 02:10 AM
I say sand it off. My bokken and jo were both varnished, which was okay until the weather warmed up - then the bokken was slipping in my grip when I did suburi, and the jo was sticking when I did tsuki. A little while ago I decided enough was enough, sanded off the varnish with coarse sandpaper and polished the wood smooth with fine sandpaper. I haven't had any problems with either weapon slipping or sticking in my grasp since.

Jesse Lee
06-27-2003, 11:05 AM
Will do; thanks for the advice. :)

06-27-2003, 12:36 PM
I ve always been told to sandpaper all new weapons(jo and bokken)

Leslie Parks
06-27-2003, 12:40 PM
After you sand off the varnish, you can oil it with Tung oil (available at hardware stores). This keeps the wood from drying out over time. Another alternative is walnut oil (real high tech...take some crushed walnuts, wrap in muslin...rub on weapon).

And no, neither are sticky or gooey and don't go rancid. These are the methods we use in our dojo with a preference for the tung oil.

06-30-2003, 12:44 PM

I've had great luck with boiled linseed oil (that's what it's called, I don't boil it). This is available in a big can at most hardware stores, but is inexpensive.

I simply apply with a cotton rag and leave the weapons out to dry. Every couple of months (sometimes up to six months), I apply a bit more. I'm going on four years now with my first set of weapons, and they're in great shape.



Avery Jenkins
06-30-2003, 02:50 PM
I agree with the boiled linseed oil...I spent several years working in the backwoods, cutting trees with a double-bladed axe 5 days a week (nope, we did not use chainsaws). When we replaced an axe handle, we always sanded off the varnish and rubbed it down 3-4 times with linseed oil. Some of the guys I worked with went so far as to soak their new handles in linseed oil for 24 hours, but I never took it to that extreme.

Linseed oil takes care of the wood well and makes the wood/human interface a lot better.


06-30-2003, 07:43 PM
I probably overdo it severly but here is what I do. I sand my weapons down to at least 1000 grit sandpaper, then put linseed oil on it til it won't take any more while running 0000 steel wool over it between coats (sometimes as many as 20 coats). Finally I put on another 8-10 coats of tung oil, again with 0000 steel wool between coats. I go through this process every 12-18 months. I do a lot of contact with my weapons (too frequently with bashers) and I haven't had to replace my weapons in almost 10 years and they are still in good shape. I also don't have a problem with weapons slipping or sticking. Like I said, this may be severe overkill but I never have any problems with my weapons.


07-01-2003, 03:09 PM
Some of the guys I worked with went so far as to soak their new handles in linseed oil for 24 hours, but I never took it to that extreme.
That's what I did with my jo. I gave it a good sanding, then got a piece of PVC pipe that was a little bigger than the jo. I sealed one end, put the jo in and enough linseed oil to cover it, and stood it in the corner for a couple of days (turning it around several times so the same side of the jo wasn't always leaning against the inside of the pipe). Then I took it out, rubbed it down with a clean cloth and it was good to go. It took quite a lot of abuse and barely got dented.

One note: Linseed oil is really flammable. I've heard that a soaked rag can even spontaneously combust if you leave it in a warm enough place.

Jesse Lee
07-01-2003, 03:34 PM
you guys are totally hard core! This is cool, I am going to go for it with the boiled linseed oil.

Jeff Tibbetts
07-01-2003, 04:02 PM
I use a mixture of both linseed oil and tung oil. I just sanded down my weapons first with the finest grit paper I could find and then hand rubbed in a few coats of the mixture. I haven't had my weapons all that long, but they feel great in my hands and they have a fine polish to them. I didn't see anyone else here say they used a mixture. I think I read it on the Bujin website's "how to care for your wooden weapons" page or something.

07-01-2003, 05:53 PM
I use linseed and tung oil mix.

BTW, Eric doesn't hit that hard anyway. :)

Just kidding, bro'.

07-01-2003, 08:06 PM
I'm just not feeling the love Elle.


Charles Krog
07-06-2003, 04:51 PM
I sanded my Jo and then used mineral oil. When it dries out I just wipe some more on with a paper towel. The mineral oil brings out the beauty of the wood. Some of the far east hardwoods are really beautiful.