Happiness is a Clean Bayonet

Discussion in 'Knives & Edged Items' started by AlwaysAardvarks, May 18, 2011.

  1. AlwaysAardvarks

    AlwaysAardvarks New Member

    Apr 20, 2011
    I found a beautiful bayonet for my Arisaka 99. Of course, it was covered in 65 year old cosmoline, which resisted everything I tried short of a belt sander. Not one to give up, I submerged the bayonet and scabbard in a strong solution of Simple Green and water for a couple of days. Success! The cosmoline is gone, the blade looks freshly milled, and I brushed a few pounds of Cosmoline out of the grips. Here's my dilema: the grips now look bleached, and are obviously old bare wood that's been stripped. Do I coat them with "something"? If so, what should I use? I want this to be a restoration, not a modification. I would apreciate any knowledgable advice. I don't want to screw this up.
    Last edited: May 18, 2011
  2. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

    Apr 20, 2008
    Lehigh Valley, PA
    I'm not sure what the Japanese used to treat wood - but, I'm thinking that, from personal experience, a first coating of thinned (with mineral spirits about 50/50) Tung oil, buffed when dry with 4 ought (OOOO) steel wool, followed by a full strength coat of Tung oil will give you a nice, weather resistant, preservative finish. You can add more coats of Tung oil if you wish - the more you do, the shinier and harder the final finish.
    I'm sure there are some military "purists" who may have the actual finish they used.

  3. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

    Dec 6, 2009
    The original finish appears to be a lacquer, fairly common in Japan, but linseed or tung oil or even a spray lacquer should look good and keep out moisture.

    Congrats on that find - Japanese bayonets are hard to come by and one in near-new condition is very rare.

  4. AlwaysAardvarks

    AlwaysAardvarks New Member

    Apr 20, 2011
    Thanks for the advice. I think I'll go the tung oil, sand, tung oil, sand, etc. routine. That should give things a nice smooth finish. Even the scabbard looks like new now.
  5. Buffalochip

    Buffalochip Well-Known Member

    Oct 22, 2008
    I have a circa 1939 type 30 bayonet for the Arisaka model 99, which I am looking at as I type this. It has about 80% of the blueing left on it. The grip is in very good shape and is an aged reddish brown/mission oak color. No gloss, grain NOT sanded smooth.

    I'd avoid sanding and coating, sanding and coating as this will give a high gloss and very smooth finish, which a war-time item would not have. As a Smithsonian curator once told me, you want it to show its age. I'd stain it, wipe it off after a minute or two and keep restaining it until you get the dark color you want. Linseed oil is good at bringing out the grain. After you get the color you want, saturate it with linseed oil, wipe it off and keep applying it until the wood stops soaking it up--may take several days. Then put a light coat of wax on it and you're done. Use 0000 steel wool instead of sandpaper and go lightly on it. Practice on a scrap piece of hardwood/oak and make sure you dipose any linseed-soaked rags/paper towels properly--they will self-ignite if you put them in the trash.
  6. Texxut

    Texxut Member

    Feb 1, 2009
    Just for future reference, Mineral spirits and a soft tooth brush will take off cosmolene / grease, from fresh, to that 100 year old rock hard stuff we sometimes encounter. Other methods carry their own risks. If you use it on wood, (and I do) keep a clean rag handy and use it frequently , i.e., brush on / wipe off. Just that fast. Repeat till you get the gunky stuff off. If you do it that way, you won't change the color or natural oils or finish of the wood and you won't be having to restore it.
  7. stede

    stede Member

    Jan 14, 2010
    Aardvark, the final look of your grips- if you want them to be close to original- depends on what year they were made. And by that I refer to the way standards changed during the course of the war.
    I have a small collection of the Arisaka bayonets ( only eight) but they clearly show the increasingly desperate situation of the Japanese manufacturing industry. The 'last-ditch' models have roughly-hewn slabs of untreated wood, while the earlier models (from the 1930s) have finely finished and varnished grip scales that are finely contoured to the metal. The construction and finish of the blades and metal parts show the same degradation of quality...
    Can you post a picture of your bayonet? That would go a long way in determining how the wood should look if an original appearance is your aim.
    And like BuffaloChip said- leave that sandpaper alone! Sanding your grips will damage them...
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