Page 1 of 2

sabre / sword care

PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2006 2:54 pm
by mckwu

My sabre oxidized a bit in the summer humidity, where some of the oil rubbed off. Does anyone know the proper way to remove the blemishes? What abrasive (if any) to use?

Also, what's the best oil to treat the blade with to prevent this from happening again?

Thanks in advance for any help/advice/suggestions!


PostPosted: Thu Aug 10, 2006 10:11 pm
by Kalamondin
I recommend sanding with extremely fine (600X 1000X) sandpaper by hand, then coating with gun oil, which isn't really oil, but contains a hydrophobic compound that repels water and is designed for weapons with both wood and metal components.


<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by mckwu:

My sabre oxidized a bit in the summer humidity, where some of the oil rubbed off. Does anyone know the proper way to remove the blemishes? What abrasive (if any) to use?

Also, what's the best oil to treat the blade with to prevent this from happening again?

Thanks in advance for any help/advice/suggestions!


PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2006 11:08 pm
by mckwu
Thanks, that worked well.


PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 9:45 pm
by Bossman
It's good to clean your sword regularly, try using chalk powder and then oil, the Japanese sword cleaning kits are ideal with the chalk 'pom poom' for spreading the powder over the blade and then cleaning off with a tissue, then soak a small piece of chamoise leather in almond and or clove oil and lightly spread it over the blade. The oxidisation comes mainly from the salt in your sweat, so a wipe with a tissue and quick oil after each use is good.

PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 9:43 am
by MASTERforge
Dont use pure almond or clove oil it will actually corrode your sword. Use choji oil. It is the standard for sword care.

It is made up of 99% mineral oil and 1% clove oil. The clove oil is only for scenting.

PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 11:26 am
by Simon Batten
Frankly, I just use an ordinary metal cleaner such as Brasso, followed by wiping the blade with 3-in-one oil. It's the cheapest method and is completely effective. The Japanese kits are expensive. For really stubborn, pitted corrosion, rub the metal cleaner into the affected area with a toothbrush. Kind regards, T.

PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 7:21 pm
by Linda Heenan
It is a good idea to learn how to care for your sword, even if it isn't a very valuable one. I have an antique jian and 5 other swords. For awhile, I was using fine sewing machine oil, which was good enough for the modern steel, but it wasn't sufficient for the antique. I now use choji. You don't have to buy a whole Japanese cleaning kit to have a bottle of choji. The oil is so fine it lasts a long time. Expense is relative. Sewing machine oil costs about $2 and choji might cost $12. What is that for a year or two of care towards something you use every day? An antique jian will cost you several thousand dollars. Why not get into the habit of caring for modern reproduction swords as if they are valuable. Then, if the opportunity comes up to own an antique, you will be ready.

Clean your sword every time the blade has touched human skin. Also clean it after cutting practise, even if it was only water filled plastic bottles. Use wood alcohol to take the residue off the blade. Over here, we use methylated spirits. The alchohol will take everything off the blade, including old oil.

Next, use a fine mineral oil to coat the blade. I recommend choji, or camelia sword oil. If you have an applicator, this will help. I use a soft cloth. Don't put enough oil on the blade for it to visibly bead. This will soak into and swell your scabbard. It should just have a very light covering.

If you are using sandpaper to clean rust off a sword, try car detailing papers. They are easy to come by. You might have to use a fairly heavy grade for strong rust. Use the first grade down the length of the blade, then restore the polish by using the next grade across the scratches made by the first paper. Alternate lengthwise and crosswise directions until you have polished to the degree you want. I would not recommend going to a finer grade than 600 for a user sword. If you do, the scratches and stains from use will show up too easily against the more highly polished steel.

If the sword is sharp, hand protection is a good idea for cleaning. A kevlar glove would save your fingers from being cut.

PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 8:07 pm
by MASTERforge
Choji oil in the kits is very expensive. However, the main ingredient is mineral oil. This can be bought very cheap. Alternatively go buy a bottle of baby oil.

I wouldn't trust anything else incase it stains or gives a plastic coating. Its difficult to tell what additives are in other oils.

I was doing research into traditional oils. I am considering offering bottles of choji. They would be in nice glass bottles. I am not sure if they would sell though because mineral oil is very cheap. Its the glass and clove oil that costs.

hand forged tai chi swords

PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:26 am
by Simon Batten
'Weapons are instruments of bad omen:
All beings, I believe, loathe them.
Therefore, whosoever has the true DAO
Does not want to know about them.
The noble man, in his ordinary life,
considers the left the place of honour.
In the art of warfare,
The right is the place of honour.
Weapons are instruments of bad omen,
Not instruments for the noble.
He uses them only when he cannot help it.
Quietness and peace are his highest values.'

(TAO TE CHING, Poem 31).

"'What about the sword of the Son of Heaven?'[asked the king]

'This sword has Yen-khî and Shih-khang for its point (Kwang-tsze) replied; Khî and (Mount) Tâi for its edge; Tsin and Wei for its back; Kâu and Sung for its hilt; Han and Wei for its sheath. It is embraced by the wild tribes all around; it is wrapped up in the four seasons; it is bound round by the Sea of Po; and its girdle is the enduring hills. It is regulated by the five elements; its wielding is by means of Punishments and Kindness; its unsheathing is like that of the Yin and Yang; it is held fast in the spring and summer; it is put in action in the autumn and winter. When it is thrust forward, there is nothing in front of it; when lifted up, there is nothing above it; when laid down, there is nothing below it; when wheeled round, there is nothing left on any side of it; above, it cleaves the floating clouds; and below, it penetrates to every division of the earth. Let this sword be once used, and the princes are all reformed, and the whole kingdom submits. This is the sword of the Son of Heaven.'

King Wan looked lost in amazement, and said again, 'And what about the sword of a feudal lord?' (Kwang-tsze) replied, 'This sword has wise and brave officers for its point; pure and disinterested officers for its edge; able and honourable officers for its back; loyal and sage officers for its hilt; valiant and eminent officers for its sheath. When this sword is thrust directly forward, as in the former case, there is nothing in front of it; when directed upwards, there is nothing above it; when laid down, there is nothing below it; when wheeled round, there is nothing on any side of it. Above, its law is taken from the round heaven, and is in accordance with the three luminaries; below, its law is taken from the square earth, and is in accordance with the four seasons; between, it is in harmony with the minds of the people, and in all the parts of the state there is peace. Let this sword be once used, and you seem to hear the crash of the thunder-peal. Within the four borders there are none who do not respectfully submit, and obey the orders of the ruler. This is the sword of the feudal lord.'

'And what about the sword of the common man?' asked the king (once more). (Kwang-tsze) replied, 'The sword of the common man (is wielded by) those who have their hair in a tangle, with whiskers projecting out; who wear slouching caps with coarse and unornamented tassels, and have their coats cut short behind; who have staring eyes, and talk (only) about the hazards (of their game). They hit at one another before you. Above, the sword slashes through the neck; and below, it scoops out the liver and lungs. This is the sword of the common man. (The users of it) are not different from fighting cocks; any morning their lives are brought to an end; they are of no use in the affairs of the state. Your Majesty occupies the seat of the Son of Heaven, and that you should be so fond of the swordsmanship of such common men, is unworthy, as I venture to think, of your Majesty.'

On this the king drew Kwang-tsze with him, and went up to the top of the hall, where the cook set forth a meal, which the king walked round three times (unable to sit down to it). Kwang-tsze said to him, 'Sit down quietly, Great King, and calm yourself. I have said all I wished to say about swords.' King Wan, thereafter, did not quit the palace for three months, and the swordsmen all killed themselves in their own rooms."


So don't worry if your sword is rusty. If you need to clean it now and again, don't go to any expense for such a thing of 'bad omen'. The Japanese venerated physical swords, but the Chinese never did, which is why antique Jians are so very rarely come by. Kind regards, Simon.

PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
by Bob Ashmore
That is all well and good for the Son of Heaven, but since I'm NOT the Son of Heaven I'll give my sword a good wipe down to remove the sweat and oils every time I put it away and rub some 3-in-1 (which is all I've ever used or needed on any of my swords) into it once a week or so.
Maybe the Son of Heaven can afford to buy a new sword every time he "needs" one of the bad, bad things, but since my pockets aren't quite so deep I'll practice a bit of standard sword maintenance and just keep the ones I have in good shape in case such an emergency ever arises.


PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 5:50 pm
by Louis Swaim
Greetings Simon and Bob,

I happen to be quite fond of the Discussing Swords (shuo jian) chapter of the Zhuangzi. Simon, what translation is that? I’m guessing either Legge, or Clae Waltham’s regurgitation of Legge’s (neither one is optimal).

In any case, I’m not sure I understand what point either of you are making with reference to this story. Could you elaborate?

Take care,

PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 8:58 pm
by Bob Ashmore
It seemed to me that SB was trying to say not to worry about taking care of your sword.
"So don't worry if your sword is rusty. If you need to clean it now and again, don't go to any expense for such a thing of 'bad omen'. The Japanese venerated physical swords, but the Chinese never did, which is why antique Jians are so very rarely come by. Kind regards, Simon"

I was making the counter point that I am not like the "son of heaven", who is apparently a lord of some kind and therefore someone who might have the funds to buy a new sword instead of taking care of the one he already has. Since I can't quite afford to let my sword of "bad omen" get rusty, I take at least middling good care of it in order not to need to buy another one.

I'm not the least bit familiar with the Discussing Sword chapter of Zhuangzi. This was the first I've heard of it.
I'm just a guy who sometimes can't resist the urge to post a sensible reply to a posting that is total non-sense to me.

But to each their own, I always say.
If anyone wants to let their sword get rusty...
It's their own, personal sword. Let it rust.


PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 9:25 pm
by mckwu
For what it's worth, I found that Kalamondin's reply worked very well. I took off as much rust as possible with the fine sandpaper then used a gun-barrel treatment that you spray on and wipe off.

The sabre's blade looks great and I haven't had to re-treat it since.


[This message has been edited by mckwu (edited 02-12-2007).]

PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 10:17 pm
by Simon Batten
Dear Bob and Louis,
Thanks for your replies. I hope I can answer both your points in one reply to your both, but I'm not guaranteeing anything! The main problem is, I'm not even sure myself what I meant by those two quotations, so will only offer a few random thoughts. When I first bought a metal Tai Chi sword, it was in preparation for lessons with the Master I was learning from in London (I'm unable to travel up there at the moment, but that's another story, and I hope to be able to do so again soon). I read a few things on the web and in books etc., so I had what I thought were a few ideas about what I should be trying to invest in. I went round a few shops in London and eventually settled on a sword which was a bit heavier than many Tai Chi swords and rather longer, to suit my height (6 '1")and which also had a metal handle welded to the blade (many of the others had wooden handles bolted on and which rattled. Having done fencing before, I knew that wasn't a good thing). But the lessons started later than I thought they would, due to a linguistic confusion about dates, because the Master was measuring them from the Chinese New Year, and I mistook it for the Western New Year. When the sword classes eventually started, the Master had bought swords for the class and I was mortified because I had taken my own purchase along! I apologised afterwards to him for this mistake, but I think the apology might have made us both - especially me - even more embarassed than we already were by the situation! Then he said I would probably have been better off just buying a telescopic one, anyway. Well, that's all he uses, and he's a top swordsman. Sometimes, he demonstrates the sword form barehanded. I suppose that all made me think about why I had bothered to go to so much trouble to buy such a 'suitable' (as I had thought it) weapon. Shortly afterwards, I read the Book of Chuang Tzu (I had already read the Tao Te Ching), and the passages I quoted above made me think even more about this. Also, the law here means that I am not allowed to practise in a public place with a metal sword, and the police won't even let me practice with a wooden one. They said I could use a stick if I wanted, so I bought a Kendo Shinai, which is after all virtually a stick with a grip, but slightly better balanced than a stick, and I now use that outside every day for practising the entire form sequence and I only practise individual moves with my metal sword in my flat as there is no room to do anything else, and otherwise, I just use it when I visit my Mum, who has a private garden. Ironically, the Kendo Shinai has been a blessing disguise, as being square in crosssection, it has really forced me to concentrate on my hand position in both blocks and thrusts, as I don't have a flat blade which I can look at to guide me as to vertical or horizontal positions, pronated/supinated wrist, etc. I visited my Mum a week ago, with my metal sword, and when I practised in her garden, the whole form just seemed to look after itself, as my hand positions felt so assured. Another thing about the Shinai I bought, is that it is slightly heavier even than the comparatively heavy metal sword, so using the metal sword now feels like a 'piece of cake'. Now, for all these reasons, I think I might as well have never bothered going to the trouble and expense of buying the metal sword. Then there is also the Taoist point of view on swords in general, given the quotations I have already made. I suppose I the sword just as a means to an end: another form to practice, which adds interest, more postures, more co-ordination and balance, and which give a useful overview in handling short weapons as a whole. Bob, I agree that the 'Son of Heaven' could afford as many swords as he wished for, but I suppose that the point of the story is that he was no longer bothered. Personally, nowadays I don't care if my sword, which was rather expensive, gets a bit rusty. The rust can always be cleaned off, and the Shinai, as well as being a quarter of the price, has ironically given me more discipline in terms of hand position and weight. Also, the Master from who I learned in London, says: 'First learn goodness and justice, then martial arts' and 'those who are unkind to others bring only shame to themselves and dishonour to their martial art'. I hope it does not sound too pious of me to repeat those phrases of his in connection with the Taoist quotations. I think (trying not to sound 'pious'), that such considerations are more important than a little rust. I'm not actually 'pious' (Ihope!). Indeed, if I was 'pious', I don't think I would have gone to the pub tonight and downed a few beers before writing this! Kind regards, Simon.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 1:04 am
by Simon Batten
Louis: sorry, in my last reply, I forgot to mention the translation of the Book of Chuang Tzu. It's actually from the web, and I don't know who the translation is by. Here is the link to it: I used to own the Elisabeth Breuilly translation in Penguin Arkadia, but lent it to a friend and have never had it back. The translation from the Tao Te Ching is of course the Richard Wilhelm one, but I guess you knew that already. Kind regards, Simon.