Haven't been taking care of my swords.....

Discussion in 'Weapons' started by aaradia, Oct 27, 2013.

  1. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    So, what the title says.

    I haven't been taking care of my swords. Now my Gim has a several inch patch on each side .that is starting to rust up. My other swords are showing small signs they are starting to rust up too.

    I am deeply ashamed and want to mend my ways. :(

    People at my school have a ton of opinions on how to remove rust. I have even had a guy tell me to use cool-aid. Said he learned that in the military.

    I have heard one should sandpaper out the rust. But others say that damages the sword. If it is ok, what grade sandpaper should I use? Should I see if some sword shop does repairs or would that cost as much as buying a new one?

    Or do you all have different suggestions?

    Once I get the rust removed. (If I can do so.)
    I bought "Hanwei" sword oil years ago. Should that be used. Or just WD 40? Something else? How much should I use? Can using too much oil cause damage?

    Any thoughts on sword repair and care would be most appreciated!

    It isn't particularly close, but my next TCC test is in front of our Grandmaster. My instructor said he hates seeing swords in poor condition. I have contemplated buying a new Gim, but I really like the feel of my current one. I hope I can save it.
  2. Simon

    Simon Moved on Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    Count Duckula is the man to ask.

    This excellent article will answer some of your questions.
  3. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    Thanks Simon.

    If Count Duckula doesn't happen upon this thread in a few days, I will PM him and ask him to look at it.

    Frist glance at that article brings up a couple of things.

    My blades are "spring steel" which seems to be a type of carbon steel.

    He mentiones not touching the blade. But we learn with the Gim to put our index finger down onto the blade. That isn't where it is rusting either. We have to touch the sabre to our arm/ hand in a couple of moves as well (against the dull side of it of course).
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2013
  4. ned

    ned Valued Member

    I have successfully used fine (here it's graded as 0000) wire wool on rusty tools,with a little mineral oil.
    Excellent article btw
  5. pgsmith

    pgsmith Valued dismemberer

    Do not use abrasives on your sword unless you don't mind the damage to the finish that will result. For removing active rust, I always advise using Noxon. This is an almost non-abrasive metal polish that is ammonia based. The ammonia will arrest the activity of the rust, and the polish will shine it back up. Once active rust has started, you will have to be vigilant in cleaning and oiling that area on the sword for a while as rust likes to come back to the spot that it has been. After a while, the active rust will change to an oxide patina, and you won't have to be quite as vigilant to keep it from rusting again.

    I much prefer good choji oil from Japan to the sword oil from Hanwei. Choji oil is very thin mineral oil with clove oil for scent. The Hanwei sword oil tends to be thicker, so you can't spead as thin a sheen on the blade. WD-40 will work if you wipe it and replace the WD-40 frequently. It has a lot of volitiles in it which evaporate fairly quickly.

    Touching the blade is OK. Almost every Japanese sword school that I've seen touches the blade at some point or other. The key is to make sure you wipe clean and re-oil the blade after every practice.
    aaradia likes this.
  6. Kenko Enso

    Kenko Enso Valued Member

    I've used Metal-Glo, a metal polisher, to get rid of patches of light rust. Also, high grades of sandpaper, starting at 1000 and up can be used on lighter rust. You can get those at an auto-parts store. If you use sandpaper I'd recommend wet/dry used with mineral oil or some type of really light machine oil. I noticed you said several inches on the blade so you if you want a consistent polish you may have to do the entire blade.

    I've heard some people recommend using aluminum foil and water will actually remove light rust too. Never tried it myself though.

    Count Duckula's article is great and well written, love it. I'd like to point out that I believe what Count meant about the fingers on the blade is to not leave your fingerprints on there for an extended period of time. I'm paranoid so I wouldn't leave prints on there anything over a day if I had to.
  7. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    I just figured out why I have that patch on my sword. Was driving me crazy why it was happening in that one spot on both sides, but nowhere else.

    In the starting position, you have the sword against the back of your arm. Well, that patch is just where it touches my arm.

    PGsmith, where can you buy Noxon?

    PGsmith and Kenko enso, I think I want to try one of these polishes before resorting to sandpaper. Do I use a cloth with the polish? Any cloth will do?

    Thanks Everyone. Still interested in what others have to add.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
  8. Count Duckula

    Count Duckula Valued Member

    I just noticed this thread now. Touching the blade during practice is not the big problem. The big problem is touching it and then not wiping away the finger grease. That will lead to rust and corrosion. Spring steel will indeed be some kind of carbon steel, i.e. low in corrosion resistance. If your practice involves you touching the sword to your arm (if it is your style, then there is nothing you can do otherwise), you have to clean and oil your sword every time time your practice, as soon as you can.

    As to what to do now: there are several manual polishes that you can try, depending on where you live. One such is 'MAAS'. It comes in tubes. You apply them with a piece of cloth and lots of elbow grease. This takes time. You can wrap the cloth around a piece of cork for easier handling and rubbing. Be very careful because if you polish lengthwise, you always have the risk of touching the edge when you do so. And if you do, you could end up with a trip to the ER. Most knifemakers I know have had stitches because of polishing. In fact, a guy I know just got 5 stitches in his thumbpad a couple of days ago.

    I suspect the sword will have a rough patch there, because the rust will go away but the metal will obviously not come back. Now I don't know what your sword looks like and I don't know how bad it is. But I can tell you this: unless you are experienced at polishing and sanding blades, the way your blade looks after you take sandpaper to it will be a lot worse than what it will look like if you just stop after cloth + polishing compound.

    If it concerns a rough patch that needs to be polished away, you cannot do just that spot. You need to do the entire surface (and both sides) or it will be butt ugly. And if you need to do the entire surface, you need to know what you are doing or you will be making it worse, not better.

    Inexpert polishing has destroyed more swords than fighting.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
    aaradia likes this.
  9. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    I'd very lightly use a plastic car bodywork pad (Scotchbrite type) and then use Japanese style sword oil.
  10. gapjumper

    gapjumper Intentionally left blank

    Cut an onion in half and use that to rub the rust off. Clean afterwards and oil the blade!

    Not sure if the onion juice is bad for the blade, but having been shown this method I have used it for years with no problems. Should be fine for training blades.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
  11. Count Duckula

    Count Duckula Valued Member

    Yes, it is.

    The more pure the steel is (ideally, swords are clean simple carbon steel) the more it will oxidize by the onion juice and turn black. You need to thoroughly clean / polish afterwards to make sure every last bit of onion juice is gone, or the problem will have been made much worse than it was to begin with.
  12. Kenko Enso

    Kenko Enso Valued Member

    Apologies, I used Nevr-Dull, although Metal-glo is another brand made for metal polishing. I got mine in store at Advanced Auto:


    It's got a light abrasive mesh soaked in some kind of oil. This is another brand that I've heard people use for polishing/removing rust on their swords, this one uses a clean rag + the polish:


    On my first iaito I did not oil it frequently enough and it started to get light rust on the munouchi. Nevr-Dull did get it out after a long time but as it's already been said, it will affect the polish you currently have. It will appear duller on the parts worked on for sure and was pretty obvious, at least, to me.

    As the good Count has already said, it can also be very dangerous. I'm not going to give advice beyond what I already have because I am still very much an amateur polisher. It can take a lot of hours and a fair amount of money in the beginning if you want to have at least an acceptable looking polish. And patience, lots and lots of patience.

    Count, I was wondering what method you use for polishing?
  13. Dean Winchester

    Dean Winchester Valued Member

    Very soft cloth and a large application of elbow grease.
  14. Count Duckula

    Count Duckula Valued Member

    That depends entirely on what I am trying to achieve. If I am working on a blade I just forged, I use a belt sander to get rid of the forging crust and to bring the shape more or less to what I want. After that it is sandpaper in a range of 40 grit to 2000 grit, depending on what type of finish I want or what the finish was before I started. I sometimes also use stones instead of sandpaper, but that is more difficult. At some point, I switch to very fine abrasive powders that may be synthetic or may be crushed stone, or simple polishing compound and a cloth. Polishing is hard work.

    The main reason I advise against beginners using anything other than polishing compound is that it is extremely easy to irreversibly dmage the sword. A sword is defind by the crisp lines where various surfaces connect to each other. If a sword has rust and you want to remove it completely, it means altering the surface with coarse sanding paper (or stones). But you need to remove the same amount of material evenly across the entire surface.

    And then you also may need to work on other surfaces to make sure that the lines still meet where they are supposed to meet, and you need to do this on both sides to keep the sword symetrical. This is a TON of manual work. And after that you need to repeat this process at increasingly finer grits to end up with a properly polished area.

    The danger is that you spend hours working on a coarse grit, (re)defining the surface and the intersecting lines. And it only takes -1- bad stroke at a wrong angle to completely destroy the deliniation between 2 areas, and thus completely ruin the shape of the sword.

    So you have a job that takes hours and days (polishing a rusted nihonto can take a couple of weeks) with a very expensive learning curve. This is why qualified sword polishers charge 50 to 80$ per inch of steel. IF they decide to take on your sword and you finally get to the top of the waiting list. And this is also why I only polish my own blades (or blades I am making on order). If it is my own blade, it is my responsibility. If it is a blade I am making for someone else, worst case I can always scrap it and start over. But someone else's blade... nope. Not touching it.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
  15. Count Duckula

    Count Duckula Valued Member

    On finished blades, pretty much this.
    Just polishing compound and cloth. Or if there is a minor imperfection I might use very fine sanding compound, but then I will have to do the entire blade. And if there is damage, i means I start sanding as if the blade was newly forged and I need to start with very coarse stones or paper.
  16. pgsmith

    pgsmith Valued dismemberer

    You can buy Noxon at Ace Hardware or Loews, or order from Amazon. I like Noxon because it is almost non-abrasive. Therefore you can use a cloth and polish out all the rust without seriously damaging the finish on your sword as abrasives can do. As was mentioned, be very careful when polishing, especially if your sword is sharp.

    It only takes one time of going to the effort required to fix a rust spot to make a person remember to always wipe and oil their sword after practice! :)
  17. Kwajman

    Kwajman Penguin in paradise....

    Learned more about blades on this thread than I ever knew before!
  18. Count Duckula

    Count Duckula Valued Member

    Here you can read the documented process of restoring a rusted tanto. Sou Yamashita is a friend of mine and he is very skilled.

    From the article:
  19. Kenko Enso

    Kenko Enso Valued Member

    That was a great read. I love how he mentions that his love for polishing began as a kid. Also, thanks for informing us of how you like to polish! It can be a laborious process but I've found it strangely soothing at times too. I can't imagine the paranoia I'd feel polishing someone else's sword much less a nihonto. I'm content learning (and making mistakes on...) on my own stuff.
  20. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Molon Labe

    I'm not very precious with my swords, so they get rust on them from time to time, and I sandpaper it off. They're perishable training tools and eventually need replacing if you actually cut stuff and drill with them, etc. My sharps occaisonally got nicked from harder cutting mediums (bone) and then I had to get rid of nicks which is a real pain. I don't cut bone much anymore. If you're only doing tatami then nicks are not an issue, though a bend might be if you screw up badly enough. If your sharp bends, get it straightened professionally if it's an expensive one.

    However you decide to remove the rust, a good way to keep it off is plain ol' 3 in 1 oil. Get a hide shammy, squirt some on, roll it in a ball to saturate the material and wipe your blade down. Put the rag in a ziploc bag when you're done to keep it from drying out. It outperforms most traditional "sword" oils and is only a few bucks a bottle.


Share This Page