Before the steel hits the forge, we should polish it as best as possible. Once hardened and tempered it will be much more difficult to work. Starting to polish the blade. Clamp the butt end of the tang down and start with 80 grit sandpaper on a wooden block. Long straight strokes along the blade. Don't worry about the sanding the tang as it will be hidden.
80 grit after a few minutes.
Next step will be 100 grit, then 220 until any mill scale or surface inclusions are nearly gone.
Another reason not to polish the faces of the tang is that the epoxy will need a good place to stick. Typically, before the scales are epoxied and clamped down, it's a good practice to grind some marks or drill additional holes in the steel. This will give some areas for the adhesive to grab on to.
After heat treatment, this blade will be considerably more difficult to polish, so doing more now saves some time later.
In the future I will do this with the belt sander. However rewarding it was a LOT of work.
See how I made my