How to Sharpen Your Sword

 

Sword Sharpening (for beginners)

By Chowser, July 13th, 2017

Top_5_Video_Game_Swords



Introduction


Often when you buy a sword it will come semi-sharp or unsharpened, even when it is considered functional or battle ready. This is mostly due to the fact that many people prefer swords which are unsharpened, and also because it is less dangerous to transport an unsharpened blade. If you are the type that would prefer your blade to be sharpened, and need more information about the best way to achieve it, this guide is for you.

Before we get into it, here are a few words of caution that you would be wise to heed:

  1. Sharpening swords is dangerous work, and should not be done idly. Do not attempt this task under circumstances that would likely distract you such as while watching TV. Maintenance is the leading cause of accidental injury relating to blades, mostly due to inattention, so BE CAREFUL.
  2. There are a lot of ways to damage your sword during the sharpening process if you don’t fully understand what you are doing, therefore, if the blade you are interested in sharping is highly valuable, it would be better to find a professional to do the work for you. Improperly sharpening a valuable sword is one of the quickest ways to decrease its value.
  3. DO NOT use high-powered tools to sharpen your sword. Power tools create immense friction when used for grinding, which can drastically heat up your blade. This can quickly disrupt the heat-treating of the steel, and will significantly weaken the durability of the sword.
  4. A sword is not a razor: While it is possible to make a sword “razor sharp”, it is not the ideal sharpness for a sword, and will likely result in chips or other damage. A sword does not need to be razor sharp to do its work properly, so don’t overdo it.
  5. A sword is not a toy: Warriors of old had very strict codes of conduct surrounding the use and carry of swords, and for good reason. A sharpened sword is a very dangerous tool of warfare, and should be treated with the utmost respect and care.

Necessary Equipment:

  1. Cloth or paper towels
  2. Flat fine-tooth metal file
  3. Whetstone High-Grit (400-grit and up)
  4. Oil (such as machine oil)
  5. High grit sandpaper (400-grit and up)
  6. One or two blocks of wood (for propping)

Step One, Filing:

This is the first step in sharping a blunted blade. If your blade already has a rough edge, and you only need to remove burrs and imperfections, you may be able to skip this step entirely. Because filing removes the largest amount of steel out of all the processes, it is the mostly likely step to cause distortion of the shape. So, even though your blade may not be sharp yet, filing should still be done with great care.

  1. Set up your wood blocks on a large flat table where you can comfortably work for an extended period.
  2. Arrange your sword so that the edge you intend to sharpen is facing away from you.
  3. Hold your file at a thirty-degree angle relative to the flat of the sword.
  4. File away from your body (one direction only) one stroke at a time, and count each stroke as you proceed up the length of the blade.
  5. After finishing one side of the blade, flip the sword over and repeat the process along the other side (same edge). For double-edged swords, it is wise to sharpen all sides of all edges before proceeding to additional filing or honing.
  6. Repeat the filing process until a roughly sharpened edge emerges from the blade. “Rough edge” is the key phrase that defines the end of the filing process. If you feel like you might have filed enough (but are not sure), just move on to the next step and see how well the edge emerges for you. You can always come back and do a bit more filing if needed, but if you file too much it is irreversible.

Step Two, Honing:

The goal of this step is to remove the imperfections in the edge created during the filing process (or during use). There are a lot of schools of thought on where to start and stop this process for varying degrees of sharpness and functionality. We encourage you to explore these ideas further to find the best results to suit your needs. This guide is intended to help you achieve a good level of sharpness for a sword (not a kitchen knife or a razor blade) which can be achieved at around the six-hundred grit range. If you feel compelled however, razor honing can take you up into the six-thousand grit range.

  1. (starting with 400-grit) Set your whetstone on the table perpendicular to your chest, and make sure it is secured in place somehow (this can be done with rubber feet for friction, or by fastening a jig to your table which blocks it in place). Be sure that your means of securing the whetstone will not hinder your range of motion when honing.
  2. Apply a thin layer of oil to your whetstone.
  3. Hold your file at a thirty-degree angle relative to the flat of the sword.
  4. Hold the blade at a thirty-degree angle relative to the whetstone, with the edge you intend to sharpen facing away from your body.
    1. For this stage, it is common to polish one side for ten full strokes before flipping to the other side of the edge.
    2. To prolong the life or your whetstone; be sure to use the entire polishing surface evenly, this will ensure that no dips will from in the whetstone surface.
  5. Flip the sword over and repeat the process on the other side of the edge.
    1. For double-edged swords, it is wise to apply an even level of honing to all sides of all edges before proceeding to further honing.
  6. Check your blade edge. Each level of grit can only eliminate imperfection that are large than the particles which make up the grit. (Example: If the sand particles which makes up your grit are 1/10 of a millimeter in diameter, they can only polish away imperfections larger than 1/10 of a millimeter.)
    1. If the grain of your blade edge seems to match your level of grit, it is time to hone at the next higher level of grit.
      1. Many people will go from 400-grit to 600-grit because the difference to become miniscule at this point. However, if you prefer, you can use a 500-grit in-between.
      2. 400-grit gives a decent hone for a sword, and if you want you can stop there. However, we prefer to stop at 600-grit. If you are satisfied with your edge, you can move on to the polishing process.
    2. If you feel that more time is required at your current grit level, then move on to step 7 of honing.
  7. Check the consistency of the oil on your whetstone, it should have a thin even layer. If it looks good, repeat the honing process.

Step Three, Polishing:

This step is intended to polish out imperfections in the transition between the blade edge and the flat of the blade. It is mainly for aesthetic purposes, and can be skipped if desired.

  1. Cut a one-inch square piece of sandpaper (starting with 400-grit).
  2. Wet the sandpaper slightly with oil or water.
  3. Carefully run the sandpaper along the blade where the edge is transitioning into the flat.
  4. Polish each side of the blade evenly to the level your current grit can achieve before moving on to a higher grit sandpaper.
  5. After polishing to your desired level of finish, clean and oil your blade.

Conclusion:

There are many other ways that a blade can be sharpen, a lot of which are faster, however, many of them will also run the risk of ruining the tamper of your blade. For us, this method provides satisfactory results with minimal risk of damage. We encourage you to do further research, and find the best sharpening method for your needs. And remember ALWAYS BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR SWORD.

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