I was chatting with Nick Oddson about weapons care the other day. He has a great studio which, unfortunately, is a bit humid. This causes the weapons to rust at a faster rate than normal. I suggested RIG Rust Inhibiting Grease, which is reportedly the the best there ever was, but I now find that it’s no longer being made! I intend to treasure my one can of RIG and use it ever so sparingly. For that day when I find the can is empty, I’ve started to look at other options. I checked Bass Pro Shop for gun oil and found Remington Rem Oil. On Canadian Tire’s site, I found auto body Rust Check Spray and Rust Check Coat and Protect. I’m doing well with the RIG for now, but it’s good to know that there’s options.
Wipe off fingerprints (or to be safe, just wipe the whole sword) with oil after every use. Use a rust-inhibiting product if you know you won’t be using it for a while, or if it’s going to be stored for some time or in humid conditions.
For daily or more frequent use, there’s lots of different oils on the market. Use them all in the same way: wipe after every use. I like to keep some pre-soaked rags and the bottle in a sealable plastic bag in my weapons kit, plus another beside my rack at home so that there’s no excuse to leave it until later! Here’s a few different options for products:
This one isn’t even on the market, actually. It’s one that you can mix up at home. Use 1 litre of mineral oil with 1 teaspoon of clove oil. The mineral oil is the most important element, and the clove oil is for a lovely, yet warrior-like, smell. Materials are probably available at your local pharmacy and/or natural food store.
My personal favourite. Easy to find, and inexpensive. 3-in-One has a line of various oils and lubricants, but the “Multi-Purpose” does just fine.
Excellent, although not necessarily better than other oils. If you run an experiment to test them, let me know what you come up with! We tend to get our Hanwei supplies from Kutters Knives in the Merivale Mall in Nepean, Ontario near Ottawa.
Whatever you chose, read the label and make sure that it won’t degrade any other materials on your sword, specifically the wrapping on your grip.
Remember, just having your blade in a scabbard does not guarantee protection from aging! You can, however, construct a scabbard that will help with that task (I heard this from an instructor ages ago):
- Using an absorbent fabric, cut a sleeve for your blade. No sewing necessary. I favour natural fibres like cotton, hemp and wool.
- Soak the sleeve with oil (see below for suggestions on what oil to use).
- Put the weapon inside the sleeve.
- Use plain old duct tape (Red Green would be proud!) and create an outer layer for the fabric sleeve.
Done! Not glamourous, but very functional. For a more period look:
- Cut a fabric sleeve and soak with oil.
- Cut a sleeve out of leather, and sew closed with a leather thong.
- Find some sheepskin with the wool still attached and create a sleeve with the wool on the inside.
- The lanolin already in the wool should help to protect, but you could add more, or add another kind of oil
- Sew closed with a leather thong, or other period-looking methods.
Again, not glamourous, but very useful. Every time you draw your weapon, there will be another little layer of oil on it. I wouldn’t do away with wiping down my weapons by hand, but using a scabbard like this will help stave off the rust a little longer.
Take care of your weapons, and they’ll take care of you.