Togi (研ぎ) is the process of using several stages of abrasive stones to refine, smooth, and sharpen a blade. The word togi does not differentiate between the action of polishing and the action of sharpening, in the Japanese concept the operations are one and the same –an integral process.
A togi-dai (研ぎ台) polishing platform is a traditional workspace used to orient the stones at a proper angle to the polisher and to collect and manage the water and slurry that comes from the process. The polishing components include a sloped wooden platform to drain and collect water, a water bucket and stone rest, a foot clamp to hold the stone down, and a slanted stool for the polisher. While most of the components are relatively simple to make or obtain, the platform itself is more challenging to construct.
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Making the Togidai
Materials for the platform are Nootka Cypress, for its water resistance, along with some Western Red Cedar (also a cypress), and some reclaimed galvanized chimney sheet metal for drainage. Building the draining platform permanently into the floor with integral drainage is preferred, but most locations require it be raised with a separate water collection system underneath.
In this workspace the height needed to be as low as possible but still allow room for the water tray to fit underneath. 100cm x 160cm is a fairly standard size but for reasons of available space and materials this one is 87cm x 140cm on the outside. Another difference is that the drainage slot is near center on this one (rather than closer to the front), this is due to constraints of the scrap lumber cut-offs used for the deck.
Making the Shogi, Todai, and Todai-makura
Shogi (床几) is the slightly tilted stool that the polisher rests one leg on. It is about 39cm × 23cm × 15cm/16cm high and made of Red Cedar scraps left over from the yakisugi siding of the island kajiba. Todai (砥台) is the angled wooden block that the polishing stone rests on and is about 30cm x 9cm x 9cm, and Todai-makura (砥台枕) the “pillow” for the todai to rest on, about 9cm x 9cm x 26cm with a notch height of 7.5cm. Left over cut-offs of the beams used for building the island kajiba project were used for these items.
Making the Fumaegi and Tsumagi
Fumaegi (ふまえ木) is a wooden foot clamp that secures the polishing stone against the todai block. About 50-60cm long, it curves up from the floor to the top of the stone and is held with the pressure of the right foot. Tsumagi (爪木) is a small block (~9cm × 9cm × 2cm) to rest the toes of the right foot on for proper pressure and foot position (and dry toes).
Material for fumaegi should be chosen primarily for the grain direction and strength of the wood. Occasionally a piece can be found with curved grain but usually some design adjustments must be made to thicken and strengthen weak grain areas appropriately.
The togioke (研ぎ桶) bucket is being sent from Japan, at about 30cm round x 14cm high it is designed for cooking rice and is slightly smaller than the standard 46cm x 33cm x 18.5cm for sword polishing.