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Maintenance Tips

Use and Maintenance of your Sword

Every effort is made to ensure that each sword is made to high standards of quality and that with responsible use, care, and maintenance it will provide excellent service. It is your responsibility to ensure that your sword is a model designed to meet the requirements of the activity in which you propose to use it – please contact us if you need help in making a choice.

Caution: Most swords have very sharp blades and must be handled very carefully to avoid injury. When maintaining a blade, make sure that the sword is resting on a flat, stable surface and always avoid touching the edge. Never try to “catch” a sword that is falling – this is the cause of most sword-related injuries. Let it fall, it is unlikely to be damaged.

All metal parts of your sword should always be protected from corrosion. Your sword is shipped with a protective coating to protect the blades during transit and this should be carefully removed using a rag or paper towel and replaced by a light coat of oil or a silicone spray. The blade should be cleaned and recoated after each use. If your sword is stored in its scabbard for extended periods it should be inspected regularly to ensure that the protective coating is still intact and re-coated as necessary.

A light silicone spray will help to weatherproof leather and leather-covered scabbards as well as helping to maintain their appearance. Do not treat leather-covered handles this way, as grip will be adversely affected. Lacquered scabbards (saya) require only occasional polishing with a soft cloth.

Do not swing any edged weapon carelessly or unnecessarily. Remember that swords were originally developed as weapons and must be treated with the utmost respect to avoid injury to yourself and others. Do not unsheathe your sword until you make sure that you are well out of reach of other people.

If you wish to practice cutting with your sword:

  • Make sure that the sword is specifically designed for the type of target that you are cutting.
  • Seek training from a competent instructor.
  • Cut only targets that can be cut cleanly with a single stroke. It is extremely dangerous to attempt to cut inappropriate targets such as trees and timber. A sword is not an axe and will bend or snap if struck hard enough against an unyielding object.
  • Make sure that the targets are properly supported at a comfortable height.
  • Seek to improve your proficiency in making clean cuts with the minimum of effort. Do not try to “test the limits” of your sword – it is extremely dangerous and historic battlefields are littered with broken blades!

If you participate in reenactment or sparring:

  • Make sure that your sword is specifically designed for the activity in which you are engaged. Reenactment swords have thick edges and rounded tips - the minimum safe dimensions are often specified by the reenactment organization or society. Sparring swords are also blunt and must meet certain flexibility requirements for safety.
  • Seek training from a competent instructor.
  • Operate only in a safe and organized environment with competent supervision.
  • Try to avoid edge-to-edge contact whenever possible. In some fighting styles this is, however, unavoidable and edges will “nick” (steel toughness can mitigate the extent of the distortion but when two equally hard edges are struck together both edges will be nicked – just a matter of physics). After each session examine your blade for any sharp burrs created by nicking and, if any are present, remove them with a file to ensure that your next opponent will not be cut.

Use and Maintenance of your Sword

Our knives are made to high standards of quality and with responsible use, care, and maintenance they will provide excellent service. Your knife is designed and made as a cutting tool and, although it will tolerate hard use, it is not built for throwing or prying and such use may cause injury to yourself or others. Respect the fact that a knife can inflict serious injury if mishandled.

Maintenance Tips:

  • Keep your knife dry and clean, this applies to all parts of the knife. Moisture, dirt and debris will adversely affect the knives performance. Discoloration on blades and other metal parts can be removed using metal polish. Paste wax will help to protect and maintain the appearance of wood, leather bone and stag handles and leather sheaths.
  • Keep blades and any moving parts lightly oiled.
  • Keep your blade sharp – regular “touch up” of the edge is far preferable to allowing the blade to become dull enough to require laborious sharpening. Remember that dull blades can be more dangerous than sharp ones.
  • If a leather sheath gets wet, remove, dry and clean the knife as soon as reasonably possible and allow the sheath to air dry thoroughly at room temperature. If the sheath has absorbed a significant amount of water treat with a leather preservative (available at shoe stores) after drying and before re-using.
  • Do not store your knife in the sheath for extended periods. If a knife is to be stored between seasons, remove it from the sheath and store both in a dry place.
  • Do not clean your knife in the dishwasher!

Maintaining Plate Armour and Chainmail

Carbon steel and mild steel plate armour (including helmets) and plain steel mail are highly susceptible to rusting, typically being exposed to water in bad weather and sweat in good weather. Maintaining them in rust-free condition requires some dedicated effort on the part of the wearer.

Plate Armour
Plate armour and helmets are greased or oiled and plastic wrapped when you receive them. Careful treatment at this point can save hours of work later. First remove all of the grease or oil using mineral spirits and a cloth or paper towels. Make sure that the cleaned surface is thoroughly dry. Then apply a coating of wax (such as a high wax content car polish) to the entire surface of the exposed metal – use cotton buds in the nooks and crannies. Allow the wax to dry for a couple of hours and then buff it lightly with a soft cloth.

Your plate armour is now ready to wear or display and you should make every effort to prevent rusting. Above all try to keep the armor dry but if it does get wet, dry it thoroughly as soon as possible. After each wearing, clean off any grime and re-wax, paying particular attention to areas where the coating may have rubbed off. Store the waxed armor in a dry place and check it every couple of months for signs of corrosion – if any is found, the rust should be removed by rubbing gently with a mildly abrasive pad dipped in paste wax (those green dishwashing pads work well). Pieces used for display only should also be checked every couple of months and cleaned and waxed as necessary.

As far as mail is concerned, if your club or society permits galvanized or stainless mail it will definitely save you a lot of work over the plain steel variety. Authenticity, however, has much to commend it and maintaining plain steel mail replicates one of the activities of fighting men of old (or at least their aides). For this mail, preventive maintenance is again the key - keeping the rust away is easier than removing it. Your mail is oiled when you receive it – it is best to degrease it with the solvent of your choice, taking all the necessary safety precautions, dry it thoroughly and then recoat it unless you are going to use it immediately. Opinions on the best coating vary – some use mineral or vegetable oil, some use water-displacing liquids (such as WD-40™) and others use modern-day potions with far-reaching claims. Before each use the mail should be degreased and, as soon as possible after each use, dry it thoroughly, inside and out, and recoat. Inspect the mail for signs of rust regularly and, if any is found, remove it – it will spread very quickly unless stopped.