Ink stone method

In this method you use a black inkstone rubbed on a piece of rice paper. The rice (mulberry) paper can be found in many
bookstores that carry Japanese books or art stores that carry a variety of papers in the US.
Place the sword flat and securely on a table (Weight down with heavy book). On top of the nakago (tang) place the rice paper. Use the inkstone to gently rub on top of the paper. The impressions of the signature will show up on the paper as light spaces surrounded by ink.
You can try rubbing a pencil (such as a carpenter’s pencil) on top of a sheet of typing paper.
This works but not as well.
Carbon paper method
In this method you use carbon paper, typing paper and a dowel. Place the carbon paper on the sword's nakago (tang)
carbon-side up, then place the typing paper on top. Round the end of the dowel. Use the rounded end of the dowel to gently rub on the paper. Remove handle, wipe signature (inscription) area of tang clean with a towel or cloth. Rub carbon paper firmly and evenly over tang apply scratch tape (Wide) to tang, smooth out wrinkles. Remove tape and apply to plain white piece of paper.
Pressure-sensitive paper method
There is a pressure-sensitive paper that can also be used. This paper is very costly so we ask if you please provide us with digital images first. (Just email or Call!) 1-815-465-6623
Photographic method
You can use a camera and photograph the NAKAGO (tang of the sword). If you need to add contrast to the characters try
rubbing some white chalk into the characters and then photograph. You will have to adjust the light so that the signature is
visible. When you are finished remove the chalk with a dry toothbrush. Do not disturb the rust on the NAKAGO. The black
and red rust help identify the age of the blade.
Smoking and tape method
In this method you use the soot from a candle, Scotch Magic tape, and white typing paper. Light the candle and let it burn until
you have a nice long flame. Wrap the sword blade in a towel or chamois. While holding the sword blade wrapped in chamois
or cloth, and above the candle, pass the very top of the candle (the coolest part of the flame) across the signature to soot the
area. Take care to not heat up the blade. The blade should never get hot enough so that you cannot hold onto the tang without
burning yourself. After sooting the signature, put the sword flat and securely on the table. Take off a strip of Scotch Magic tape
and careful place on tang. For most tangs you will need to overlap the tape two or three times. After the tape is in place on the
tang, rub the top of the tape with your fingertip to make the characters show up. Them remove the tape and place on a piece
of white paper.
When you are finished, remove the soot first with a dry cloth or tissue. Next wash the tang with a mild soap and rinse. Dry the
tang and then remove the cloth on the blade and oil and uchiko the blade. Do not disturb the rust on the nakago. The black
and red rust help identify the age of the blade.
P.S. For safety reasons, always weight down blade with a heavy book.

Sword Evaluation - info sheet page one | Sword Evaluation - page two
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