Sword Maintenance


"Caring for Your Sword"

By Chowser, November 8th, 2016


For many novice sword collectors, something that is easily overlooked is the proper maintenance of a new sword. From display quality replicas to the coveted hand forged Japanese katanas, if you want your sword to last, it is important to know what care your blade desires.

The first thing to understand is that not all swords are created equal, and knowing what material your sword is crafted from is important. For instance, many display quality swords are made from stainless steel, and require far less maintenance than a functional high carbon steel sword. Historically accurate functional swords, trade ease of maintenance in for flexibility of the steel, and overall combat durability.

While stainless steel is a strong metal, it lacks the flexibility of high carbon steel, and in a clash with a functional sword, it is likely to shatter. It should also be noted that stainless steel is a relatively new invention, and was historically not available during the heyday of sword warfare. So, now you know that if you want a nice sword to hang on the wall, and rarely clean or oil, you want stainless, but if you want it to be functional, you want high carbon steel, which requires regular oiling and care.

Handling and storage

It is important to handle your blade with care, not only because the sharp edge can cut you, but also because the acidic oils on your skin will cause high carbon steel to rust within a matter of days. For this reason, it is best to not touch the blade at all with bare hands, and in the event that the blade comes into contact with any acidic substance it should be clean and reoiled before storage.

As far as where to keep you blade the thing to remember is that moisture is the enemy. If you have dropped a pretty penny on a beautiful high carbon steel sword, chances are you want to hang it up on the wall, and luckily that is the perfect place for it. Just avoid hanging it near a commonly used bathroom or kitchens if possible, as those areas tend to have produce emissions of steam. Also, avoid storing your swords in sellers or near the ground for a similar reason.

Cleaning and Oiling your Blade

Probably the most important active aspect of sword maintenance is cleaning and oiling your blade, particularly when it comes to functional high carbon steel. There are many kinds of oil the sword collectors will recommend, and there are minor differences between them all which might or might not be relevant, the important thing to know is the purpose of the oil, and you can decide what oil you prefer based on your understanding.

The oil is intended as a barrier to keep moisture from touching the blade to prevent the growth of rust. All that is needed is a thin coat along the surface of the blade, as well as any other stainable metal, so don’t soak your blade until it is dripping with oil. To treat; simply clean off any oil or grim from previous oiling with a clean rag, apply a small amount of oil to a lint free cloth, and with your hand along the back edge, run the oiled cloth along the full length of the blade, being very careful of the sharp edge. I well-oiled blade should have an even sheen of oil without any excess. Cleaning and oiling of high carbon steel should be done at least monthly, and in humid climates it is advisable to adopt a weekly regiment. For stainless steel, it might not be altogether necessary to oil your sword, but it is still a good idea to do it maybe every three months, as it is not usually perfectly manufactured.

Polishing your sword

If a small amount of rust should form on your blade, or small blemishes appear due to test cutting, it is time to polish your sword. If you value the longevity of your sword this should be considered a delicate task, and the use of power tools should be avoided. The best practice is to use abrasive pads with metal polish, and care for your blade by hand. There are many brands of metal polish and pads which can be found at your local hardware or automotive store, just read the package to make sure that it is intended for the type of metal your sword is made of.

You will want a few grades of grit for your pads from coarse to fine, otherwise the process will take an immense time investment. Lay the blade flat and starting with the coarse grit, and with medium pressure, run the pad lengthwise back and forth along the blade. This will create small scratches which will be polished out as you proceed to finer grit pads. Make sure to polish all sides of the blade, and treat each flat surface individually to maintain the crispness of details, and the cutting edge (BE VERY CAREFUL, polishing is one of the most common times for injury to occur due to mistakes). Once you have finished with the coarse pad, continue to the next in line toward the fine grit, using a minimum of three grades.

Next it’s time to move on to the metal polish; using a scotch brite or similar pad, apply the metal polish to the pad and with stronger pressure than before polish the blade in the same lengthwise direction (DO NOT use a circular motion as it will reduce the consistency and shininess of the finish). After polishing, all that remains is to thoroughly clean and reoil, and your sword should have a like new finish if the damage was not too extensive.

Note: some swords have special decorative finishes or patterns which might be damaged during the process of polishing. SwordsAxe is note responsible for any damage to property or self during the care of your sword. Polish and oil at your own discretion, and above all BE CAREFUL.


We hope you have enjoyed this short overview of sword maintenance. There is certainly more information out there on the subject, and we encourage you to do more research to find out what practices work best for you. If you have any questions or insight to add to this article, please feel free to comment below. And if you enjoyed it help us out be liking us on your favorite social media.

Functional Swords