Many beginners can get overwhelmed by how to maintain their new sword – in fact, it can be quite similar to navigating a maze of conflicting information.
The truth is, every individual in time finds their own personal favorite sword maintenance methods depending on the type of sword, the climate they live in, how they use it and a whole host of other factors.
If your sword is built from stainless steel, for instance book Ice or Longclaw, it requires almost no care. Stainless steel is not completely rust proof, over a very long duration of time it can still show some corrosion. The best you should do is to keep it out of water and keep your finger prints off it. The acid in a finger print can, if left on the blade for a long period like months or years, still mark it. But normally, hanging up, unless someone touches it, you require to do nothing.
High Carbon Steel
Now in case your sword is built from high carbon steel, like Robb Sword, show Ice, book Needle or anything in Damascus, it requires maintenance. The ambient humidity can cause pitting, as well as actual finger prints and water. The blade should be cleaned with a soft cloth after any handling and you should keep it waxed or oiled regularly. Mineral oil works or any oil labeled or sold for use with guns or knives, but do not use a vegetable oil. If you want a more long term solution, a product named Renaissance Wax is available.
Just ensure that you wipe the blade off thoroughly immediately after you complete the process and even rinse it with water, as leaving the cleaner on the sword can result in even more corrosion. Then dry it thoroughly and coat with oil. High carbon steel swords are shipped with an oil coating on, but even that is not fool proof, so they should not be stored long term.
Damascus steel is a mix of two types of high carbon steel, so whatever that is true for high carbon steel is true for Damascus steel. Now, because it is so much more valuable, you should be even more careful. Also, if your Damascus does get flawed, be vigilant when polishing with the aim that you don’t wear off the patina. So, it’s good to test the polish first in a small spot.
Almost all handle parts have a protective finish and should not require any maintenance.
In Cases When Your Swords Have Rust
Two techniques can be tapped to remove the rust off the steel: abrasion and chemical cleaning.
Chemical cleaning is the easiest way to clean swords. With a quick application light to medium weight oil, for example, regular sewing machine oil or gun care oils. Once oiled, wipe the fittings and blade with a cotton cloth until the oil is no longer detectable.
Abrasion Cleaning: For humidity rust and light handling, a mild steel chemical cleaner like Nev-R-Dull is recommended. This cleaner will not only remove any light surface rust, but also polish your blade and protect it with a light coating of oil. For heavier rust imprints, it is good to use a fine sanding pad with oil. Note the direction of the grain on your fittings and blade. Ensure to follow the direction of the grain as to not cause cross-scratching.
Also, when restoring the blade, always begin at the base of the blade; continuously and smoothly pushing the sanding pad towards the tip of the blade. This will make sure you follow the grain of the blade and improve your blade with a good satin finish.