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Care and Maintenance of Swords

You should think of a sword as a piece of fine scientific equipment or an expensive tool.

These things are well built and easy to maintain. But.. that doesn't mean no maintenance at all. It means that you should do some maintenance!

I will show you how to clean, maintain, and care for a sword or swords.

How often should you do maintenance?

Generally you should perform some kind of maintenance after every use. If your sword goes long periods of time without use or handling then every six months will be sufficient.


First thing - One thing that a lot of people don't consider when maintaining a sword is that you should think about it as being several different components that all need their own type of maintenance. We generally think of sword maintenance as how to care for the steel blade. And this is very important. But there are other parts of the sword that also need care. These could be the grip, the pommel, guard and even the sheath. And they all are of different materials.

So think of a sword in a holistic way. It is a system of various parts and various materials assembled together and each part has different maintenance needs.

Things to Know -

Your hands come in contact with the sword and your hands are the biggest factor in deterioration. Fingerprints on the blade can lead to rust and salt/sweat from your palms can affect the grip and other parts. You should always inspect for finger prints and remove them during maintenance.

Temperature changes also affect your sword. When the temperature changes dramatically it can cause condensation and the formation of water. This will rust your sword. So always keep your sword somewhere with moderate to low temperature changes. In the house is good. In an unheated garage, a bathroom or basement is not good - both for the temperature changes and the humidity changes. These changes can also crack wooden handles and leather parts.


Let's Do The Maintenance on the sword


Start with a complete visual inspection of the sword.


Examining a sword

Cracks - This is an important step and you are looking for anything unusual or out of the ordinary. And in particular you should look for any small cracks anywhere on the sword. This includes the blade, the handle, the grip, pommel and any guardwork.

A very small hairline crack could prove to be a disaster in the future.

If you discover a crack somewhere you should not use the sword anymore and seek out the advice of an expert or the manufacturer of the sword for how to approach it.

Pits and chips - This is different than cracks. Small pits and chips are going to happen. The sword is still useable. But these do lend an opportunity for rust to set in. We will handle this issue with our regular maintenance.

The picture shows a magnifying glass being used. You don't have to use one when doing an inspection. But if you see something you suspect might be a crack it would be a good idea to get a closer look at it.


Let's start with the blade of the sword

Clean the steel of the sword

First clean the blade with a soft and dry cloth. Notice the way I am grabbing the cloth. It is wrapped around the sharp edge of the sword. Be cautious of the sharpness of the sword!

Apply oil to the blade

Oil it lightly and evenly with a quality gun or machine oil. I recommend CLP. ( I have more about CLP at the bottom of the page.) It is what I use.

If you don't have one of these oils you can use a high quality mineral oil.

Repair Minor Finish Damage on the sword

rub out scratches

You can buff out scratches and pits on the blade of the sword by using some kind of abrasive material.

You should start with something of very fine abrasion and work your way up to more abrasive only as needed to remove the scratches.

Probably the best material for this is a product called Metal Glo . It is produced by United Cutlery specifically to care for blades of swords, knives, axes and similar items.

From there you can go to abrasive pads.

Use a grey scotch brite pad and oil to lightly restore the polish to the sword and remove scratches.

The grey scotch brite pad is ultra fine which is the best. You can use the green pads but use them gently at first to get a feel for how much they polish the surface.

For the blade of the sword you should work only in strokes parallel to the length of the sword. This goes with the grain. And you should work from the base of the sword and work your way to the tip.

Always work with the grain of the metal. This means that when doing the guard, pommel or other parts you should examine it closely first then use the scotch brite pad in the same direction.


Leatherwork on the sword

You can maintain leather on the sword by rubbing it with a soft dry cloth. This will soften and condition it. For extra conditioning you can use a wax like TreWax or Renaissance Wax.

About Renaissance Wax - It was specially designed by a famous British museum to preserve and care for museum pieces and it is generally considered to be the best choice for swords. It it also applied to the blade of swords when they are used for storage or for display.


Woodwork on the Sword

You can condition, maintain and clean the woodwork with Linseed oil or Tung oil. Clean it first with a dry soft cloth then apply a thin coat of the oil. And for extra conditioning you can apply pressure and rub quickly and continuously. This action will heat up the oil and it will penetrate deeper into the wood. I have done this as with as many as several hundred coats. It eventually gets an amazing and deep luster.



Break-Free CLP

  • Penetrates and spreads along metal surfaces into every pit and crevice to undercut contamination and lift residue away where it can be removed.
  • Long-lasting lubricating film dramatically reduces adhesion of sand, grit or other abrasives which cause wear and failure.
  • Corrosion inhibitors prevent the formation of rust while Break-Free's unique boundary film protects metal surfaces from moisture and other contaminants.
  • Specially formulated synthetic oils won't lose viscosity, dry out or stiffen up in extreme environments - such as cold, heat, dust, dirt, humidity and even salt air - keeping equipment in ready condition for months at a time.
  • It has been proven to perform in temperatures ranging from -65F to +475F and after saltwater immersion


Metal Glo

Metal Glo

Premium quality polishing paste for your cleaning and polishing needs on any metal surface. Can be used to polish stainless or carbon steel blades, brass, gold, silver, chrome, copper and many other hard surfaces.



Scotch Brite

Grey Scotch Brite Pads (The extra fine)



Renaissance Wax

Renaissance Wax

  • This product cannot ship to a PO box. Delivery requires street address.
  • Acid neutral, water and alcohol resistant
  • Preferred by museums worldwide for protecting furniture, leather, marble, paintings and metal
  • Will not stain or discolor with aging
  • 200ml, (7 oz.)


Renaissance wax was developed for use on the British Museum's priceless antiques, this special blend of micro-crystalline waxes will not stain or discolor with aging. It is acid neutral, water and alcohol resistant. Preferred by museums worldwide for protecting furniture, leather, marble, paintings and metal. 200 ml, 7 oz.


Tre Wax

Tre Wax

Trewax Paste Wax contains Brazilian Carnauba, the world's hardest natural wax ensuring a lustrous, hard, long-wearing finish. Trewax Paste Wax restores the original rich brilliance of hardwood floors and can also be used on fine wood furniture and marble surfaces. A 12.34 oz. can will cover approximately 800 square feet. Trewax Paste Wax dries quickly and is non-slip.


Sword care kit

Ace Martial Arts Supply Japanese Samurai Katana Sword Maintenance Cleaning Kit

This is a full Japanese sword cleaning kit with a traditional wooden storage box. This cleaning kit includes the mekugi-nuki, an uchiko ball, sword oil, cleaning Cloth, and small storage container for storing oiled Cloth. A must have for all serious sword collectors.



The Complete Bladesmith

The Complete Bladesmith: Forging Your Way To Perfection

Looking for instructions in bladesmithing that'll put you on the cutting edge of the custom blade market? Then this definitive guide to forging world-class blades is for you. Written by a master bladesmith, this book tells you how to set up your forge, select your materials, fashion grips and hilts, grind edges and much more!



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