Sword Safety, Care and Maintenance
Sword Care and Maintenance:
All metal parts of your sword should always be covered with a light coating of oil to prevent rust, including swords with wire wrapped handles. Wooden handles may be treated with a light coating of lemon oil or tung oil to help prevent cracking. Your sword may arrive coated with either a light oil spray or a heavy coating of grease to protect the blade during transport and storage. You can remove these coatings with the use of a good solvent such as lacquer thinner or mineral spirits, or even household de-greasers such as 409, Fantastic or Kaboom.
Being careful of the sharp blade, wipe off all you can with a dry cloth or paper towel, then try a grease cutting cleaner like 409 to get the rest of it off. It may take several passes.
Once this shipping protectant is removed, apply a light coat of mineral oil or use a silicone spray. You can also wipe all metal surfaces with a silicone coated gun/reel cloth. A gun/reel cloth is preferred as there is less tendency for dust to accumulate and trap oxygen to cause pitted areas in the blade.
Keep the blade lightly oiled at all times when the sword is not in use. Mineral oil is available at any grocery store or pharmacy in the medicine or bath item section. You only need a light coating, so that it is barely visible. Pour a few drops of oil on a soft cloth, apply it to the blade, then wipe off the excess (but not so much that is completely wiped off). All you need is an extremely thin layer of oil that serves as a micro-thin protective layer between the steel and the elements. Be careful not to get oil under any cracks or openings at the hilt where it can potentially trap moisture.
Leather scabbards and sheaths as well as leather covered handles should be treated with a good leather paste wax or saddle soap. The scabbard can also be treated with neatsfoot or mink oil for waterproofing, although this is not recommended for gripping surfaces. Do not store your sword in its scabbard for long periods of time since the leather traps moisture which can produce rust spots on the blade.
What your functional sword can and can't do:
Modern day functional swords are made of high quality steel and are fashioned for strength as well as authenticity. They are built to stand up to anything the original swords would; they are a specific tool and were historically designed for one purpose: to poke or chop holes in human beings.
A sword would never have historically have been used to (and never SHOULD be used to): Chop down trees, hack apart concrete pillars, cars, PVC pipe, logs, or any other object Hollywood decides would be cool to have cut in half. That being said, there are several materials that the sword company Cold Steel uses to demonstrate their swords' cutting strength. Traditional Japanese straw mats, tightly rolled. Heavy 3" rope. Heavy cardboard mailing tubes. Sides of beef.
Do not swing any edged weapon carelessly.
Remember, this is a real weapon and must be treated with the same respect you would give a loaded firearm. When you wish to experience how it feels for warriors to wield these weapons in battle, make sure you are well out of reach of anyone. These weapons are very heavy and could slip out of your hands. Be careful not to endanger yourself or others when you manipulate these swords.
Do not bang your sword against another sword in a theatrical-style duel.
Do not bang your sword against any hard object to test its strength or the "sound" of the steel as it hits a hard object.
No matter how tough or strong the steel is in any sword, it will nick when struck against something equally hard. In stage plays or in movies, theatrical swords with wide, thick edges are used. The edges are flat and often as much as 1 1/6" wide. Such theatrical swords are designed to take the flashy looking punishment of banging edges together. Our swords are not theatrical swords. Our swords are real weapons, designed so that they could fight in the manner that originals were actually used. Parries were made with a the flat of the blade (not the edges) or were simply avoided altogether. Real swords were never used for the theatrical style of sword banging that the movies or stage plays rely on to liven up the action sequences.
Do not attempt to chop down a tree with your sword.
Such an activity is guaranteed to damage your sword. Axes and machetes are well designed for this with the weight of the steel concentrated over the point of percussion. When you strike a firmly fixed object like a tree or a thick branch with a sword, a great deal of the blade projects past the object being cut, causing the blade to bend or torque. It should be pointed out that the Japanese, who believe in a great deal of practice with the sword, used thick bamboo. The bamboo was resistant to a cut, but didn't have the rigidity of a tree, and so it would not have damaged a valuable blade. For a Japanese warrior to cut into a tree would have been unthinkable.
Modern Day Functional or Battle Ready edged weapons are like well made tools. In many ways they are superior to the originals. Like all fine tools, they require responsible use, care and maintenance.
Learn more about tangs and how swords are made on our Sword Construction page....
Learn more about Battle Ready Functional Swords on our Sword 101 page...