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How to Take Care and Maintain a Carbon Steel Blade

Ava Barnes Jul 30, 2019
People who love collecting swords, need to keep in mind that caring for their blade is equally important as choosing the right sword for the collection. You need to preserve the finish of any steel blade, especially a carbon steel blade, which is prone to oxidization and rust. Here are a few tips.
Greasy finger marks are the usual culprits that remain on the swords after touching the blades. Protect the blade with a layer of oil or polish/wax to prevent oxidation.
Visually inspect your piece to note any areas of discoloration and work upon their care and maintenance immediately.
If rusting is light, use any mildly abrasive polishing pastes like Windlass Rustblocker™, Pre Lim Paste or Flitz™ as these work well on mild, surface rust. If the rust is a little more embedded, use fine or medium grade sanding sponge to remove rust.
After cleaning, apply an extremely thin layer of protection that serves as a micro-thin protective layer between the steel and the elements. Be careful not to get liquid under any cracks or openings at the hilt where it can potentially trap moisture.
Light pitting can be removed with a grinding belt, but should only be attempted by an expert.
Deep pitting must be left alone as it has gone beyond these cleaning methods and removing the pits can actually weaken the blade further.

If you have deep rust or pitting, there is very little you can do, but enjoy the ‘antique’ finish!
A less severe alternative to grinding belt is a metal rust eraser, which you can scrub over a more heavily rusted area for removal.
The manufacturers usually ship carbon steel swords or knives with lots of greases to ensure they don’t rust in transit and while in storage. Make sure you clean off the excess layer with a soft, lint-free cloth and rubbing alcohol and apply a thin coat of oil or wax.
Swords with carbon steel blades tend to have hilt fittings made of steel or brass. Steel hilts can be cleaned and oiled/waxed just as the blades.
Brass hilts can be cleaned with a brass cleaner and then protected with a layer of wax. Be careful not to get oil on your leather grip as it will cause the leather to rot very quickly.

Leather grips and scabbards can be treated with wax or a good quality leather paste wax.
Wooden grips can be treated with a good quality wood oil to prevent cracking. You can also use Lemon oil or Tung oil.
Scabbards are designed as a way to carry your sword and not for long-term storage.
Avoid vegetable oils, including olive oil, as they can go rancid and attract dust.
Don't use Tuff Cloth, waxes, silicone-based gel, Vaseline, petroleum jelly, and Cosmoline. Some of these contain chemicals that attack blade steel.

Now your blade is ready for display or storage.