BASICS Of Day to Day JIAN Maintenance

How to restore antique arms & repair practice swords.

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Seth Davis
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BASICS Of Day to Day JIAN Maintenance

Post by Seth Davis » Sat Feb 10, 2007 10:18 pm

It would be a great help if someone could list the basics of how to take care of a sword from day to day.

For example: Application of oil, and oil type, rust prevention, etc. Anything else a sword owner should know.
Is there any difference in maintenance methods between antiques versus the Huanuo blades, or folded steel versus carbon steel.

Thank you for your expertise and time.
Seth :D
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Post by Philip Tom » Tue Feb 13, 2007 3:59 pm

Whether you use a modern or antique sword for practice, maintenance should be the same. Steel is steel, it'll all rust if you don't take care of it.

Martial artists should be aware that moisture picked up during use can cause staining or corrosion. This includes perspiration, and the wetness in the grass mats used for cutting practice. Also, if you use your sword to cut live bamboos or tree twigs, plant sap will also cause staining which will lead to rust if not taken care of.

A very convenient way to clean a blade after practice is to use the pre-moistened wipes (generally impregnated with an alcohol-based solution) that you get at pharmacies. They are sold in individual foil wraps or are dispensed from plastic containers. Wipe off your blade thoroughly with these (get all sap deposits off after cutting), and wipe dry with a clean soft cloth. Then oil the blade.

I recommend the Japanese clove or magnolia oil for the protective coat; apply with a CLEAN lint free cloth like an old hankie. Keep this cloth in an envelope or little zip loc baggie so it doesn't get dirty; grains of dirt in a rag can cause scratches. Clove oil is used for Japanese swords; dealers in such swords or their accessories have this. The magnolia oil is used for fine woodworking tools; it is perfectly adequate for swords and knives as well. Japan Woodworker in California sells it, and it's more reasonably priced than clove oil.

Some guys use an oil called Ballistol, it was originally developed for the Austro-Hungarian army for weapons lubrication during World War I. It's effective and less prone to softening the wood of scabbards than the gun or machine oils commonly available.

Keep in mind that if you do a lot of cutting, your blade is going to get scratched. No way to avoid it; cardboard, straw, and wood all have silicates in their cell structure plus dirt on their surfaces. Japanese guys who do tamashigiri aren't at all fussy about maintaining a pristine polish on their practice swords, it's par for the course. So this is another argument against using antiques for cutting.
Phil

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Post by Seth Davis » Thu Feb 15, 2007 9:09 am

Thank you Philip Tom.

Sincerely,
Seth
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Philip Tom
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advisory on tree sap / test cuts on wood

Post by Philip Tom » Thu Feb 15, 2007 6:12 pm

You guys who like to improve the speed and precision of your cuts on springy tree saplings or twigs should be aware that some types of trees have pretty stubborn, acidic sap which can gunk and stain a blade up pretty bad. (Pine is notorious for this; I like to practice cuts on peoples' discarded Christmas trees after the holidays, so I know from experience)

If the handi-wipes I recommended above aren't up to the job, use mineral spirits or turpentine to moisten a small rag, it'll take the sap off in a jiffy. Be thorough, wipe til your cloth comes off clean, and then oil immediately because these solvents will leave a bare surface that will absorb ambient moisture.

If you're using a stainless steel blade to cut with, rust won't be a problem, but if it's carbon steel in any shape or form, it will tend to rust or pit the blade if this sap sits on there any length of time. The reason is that lots of plant juices are acidic to some degree. Any corrosion to a cutting edge will only dull it faster.

One last thing: bamboos and smallish branches are fine for cutting practice, but try to resist the temptation to whack through any tree limb that's bigger than, say, a normal neck or arm bone. Swords are not woodsman's tools, they were not meant to function as axes. When I was still living in Hawaii, one guy tried to cut through a four inch palm trunk with a Japanese sword and ended up with a two-piece blade.
Phil

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Sword Oil

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Fri Feb 16, 2007 9:12 am

We've have sword oil at Seven Stars:
http://www.sevenstarstrading.com/swdoil/

or get it from Japan Woodworker:
http://www.japanwoodworker.com/product. ... t_id=13099

You don't need much if you just have a few swords, 3-4 oz. will last you quite a long time.

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Post by B.Ko » Mon Feb 19, 2007 11:58 am

I recently started using Isopropyl Alcohol that's easily available at Drug Stores. Comes in either 70% and 99%, cleans the blade easily with cloth or gun patches. I used the alcohol swabs Phillip talked about but found they're kind of small, (I use the ones medical people use to clean your skin prior to needles).

Alcohol swabs can be pricey in bulk, the bottled alcohol is really cheap...2-3$$$.

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Post by josh stout » Mon Feb 26, 2007 3:25 pm

Is there any reason not to use regular mineral oil on an antique? What does it do to wood and leather if the oil comes in contact with it? For that matter, are there oils that are better suited for wood and leather? Tung oil is used to leave a finish, but that is not something I would not want on an antique. Neatsfoot oil seems to be the best for leather, but is there a problem with mineral oil? Some of the neatsfoot oil seams to be, or have petroleum-based oil in it anyway.
Josh
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oil

Post by Philip Tom » Tue Feb 27, 2007 12:11 am

I prefer the magnolia or clove oils used by the Japanese because they are more "gentle" to the wood scabbards than the petroleum based oils commonly available. I've noticed that the petro products (which include "3 in 1" and the various lubes for things like guns or sewing machines) tend to soften and even rot wood that becomes soaked with these substances. For example, military rifles are commonly stored vertically in racks, and soldiers have been told for generations to keep them well oiled. On older specimens, the oil has flowed down the barrels to the breech area, and goes right into the grain of the wood of the stock at the rear of where it is hollowed out to accept the metal parts. First, the wood darkens around screw holes and at the contact point with the metal, all around where the trigger and breech-block are. As years go by, the wood softens, and excessive oiling will eventually cause it to deteriorate into a black, spongy, oil-soaked mass where the grain of the wood has absorbed the most of it.

A properly-made wooden scabbard for a sword or saber is supposed to support and hold the blade firmly at the forte and tip when it is fully sheathed. The point is not supposed to "wag" back and forth when the sword is seated up to the hilt in the scabbard. However, when the wood inside the channel deteriorates (and here, the wear from friction is a factor but I've also noticed damage, on old scabbards, from over-oiling), the fibers tend to soften and slough away just as what happens to the gun stocks.

When oiling any iron or steel object, all you need is enough to coat the entire surface without putting so much that it drips off. Anyway, martial artists are supposed to practice regularly with their weapons, so there should be no problem with regular inspection and cleaning. Overkill on the oil is no substitute for regular and reasonable maintenance.

Nonetheless, if given the choice I would choose a preservative that has the mildest effect on the non-metallic parts, because a holistic approach is best for optimal long-term durability of the entire sword.
Phil

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Post by J. Jiang » Wed Aug 01, 2007 4:05 pm

Can the alcohol swabs be used for blades that have had the steel blued/blackened?

Also, is there any difference in how to clear minor rusting off of such a blade?

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blued blades

Post by Philip Tom » Wed Aug 01, 2007 4:55 pm

Alcohol swabs are safe for cleaning/degreasing blued steel finishes. Wipe dry when done and oil immediately thereafter.

Taking light rust off blued surfaces can be done with very fine (0000) grade steel wool, or better yet, bronze wool (the latter available at hardware shops that cater to furniture makers and boat refinishers). Bronze wool won't scratch blued surfaces, with steel wool you need to just confine your scrubbing to the rusty area itself. A tiny bit of the wool pushed with the eraser end of a pencil offers a lot of control. Use a bit of light oil, or WD40, as a lubricant, and wipe clean after treatment.

Blued surfaces vary in durability depending on the process used. Oftentimes, just a moderate amount of abrasion will rub through to bright metal. That's why you have to be careful. There were bluing processes used in the 19th cent. that were a lot more durable -- French military rifle barrels of the 1870s-90s, for instance -- but don't expect that quality of finish on today's reproduction blades.
Phil

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Post by fzara2000 » Sat Mar 08, 2008 11:02 am

On the japan woodworker site there are two kinds of camellia oil.

Diluted in Mineral oil, and pure.


Which one is best for sword care?
Frank Zaria

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oil

Post by Philip Tom » Sun Mar 09, 2008 5:40 pm

given the choice of pure camellia oil (an organic based substance) and the diluted version, I'd prefer pure.
Phil

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Post by fzara2000 » Wed Mar 12, 2008 4:54 pm

Thanks!


I was also wondering, is olive oil effective for sword preservation? In Okinawan martial arts it is widely used on wooden weapons.
Frank Zaria

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Post by josh stout » Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:05 am

I use it on any wood, particularly if I want the wood to get a bit darker, or there is sun fading. I would hesitate to use it on metal. The extra virgin stuff in particular has acids and other potentially damaging substances. The problem with organic oils in general is they oxidize with time forming a dark brown gunk. This will happen to any oil given enough time and oxygen, but the more refined oils do so much more slowly. I imagine that is the point of magnolia oil, in that it makes a nice thin coat without getting gunky too quickly. Sometimes I wrap an oiled blade in plastic wrap to stop all oxidation.
Josh
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Post by Nik » Tue Dec 09, 2008 9:45 am

On a personal note, petroleum oils stink that much that I rate it as unbearable to use on sheaths. AFAIK it's also not that healthy.

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