Cleaning Swords Used For Test Cutting Practice

This Forum is a place for students of swordsmanship to ask advice from moderators Paul Champagne & Scott M. Rodell on how to practice test cutting in a manner consistent with how swords were historically used in combat. Readers use this Forum at their own risk.

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Scott M. Rodell
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Cleaning Swords Used For Test Cutting Practice

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Wed Nov 01, 2006 9:04 am

Those new to test cutting practice (shi zhan) are often surprised that their new steel sword has gotten scratched during practice. A sword that one trains with is not a "wall hanger." One shouldn't think of it as a sword for decorating the wall, but as a tool in one's training. Just like as a hammer you use around the use, it is going to get banged up & like other tools, need maintenance.



How scatched or blemished a blade becomes during cutting practice depends on the target. Simply put, a cleaner target = a less scatched blade. Dirt of any kind on the target, including dust, will mean more scatches. If one wants to have less scatches, make sure no soil has gotten on the mats, for example, before cutting. Also some targets by their nature will scatch more. One example is card board. Card board is a usually a free target medium, so some people like to use it. But card board is made from recycled paper which has all kinds of "impurites" in it that will scatch. Some natural materials are also more likely to stain than others. So the choice in one's target material will effect how the blade is scatched or blemished but no matter what, a test cutting sword will get scatched & blemished & need maintenance.

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Re: Cleaning Swords Used For Test Cutting Practice

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Wed Nov 01, 2006 9:13 am

Scott M. Rodell wrote:... no matter what, a test cutting sword will get scatched & blemished & need maintenance.


Warning: Remember your sword blade is sharp, use caution when cleaning.



Okay, so how does one clean the blade? First one should understand that cleaning mean just that, it does not mean sharpening or polishing the blade. Cleaning the blade will not remove scratches. After cutting it is important to clean any organic material off the blade. If this material is not removed from the blade, it will react with the steel & corrode the blade.



To clean a sword blade one simply needs water, a small drop or two or dish washing liquid & a green scouring pad. Run water over the blade, then apply a bit of dish soap & gently wipe the blade clean with the pad. I say gently because if you rub the blade with pressure, the pad can & will scratch the blade. Rinse the soapy water from the blade & inspect. Repeat as needed. Once the blade is clean, dry throughly & oil. It is as simple as that.



Once the blade has been cleaned, blemishes might remain. One can reduce the number of blemishes that result from cutting by wiping the blade off with a clean rag between cuts. One should regularly inspect the sword's blade when practicing test cutting anyway, so this is a good time to wipe down the blade. In most cases, blemishes or stains can be removed with 0000 steel wool. I sometimes add a little uchiko (stone powder) to the blade surface when polishing off a stain. Once the stain hs been cleaned off, one can wipe off any resulting residue with a rag & wood alcohol. If wood alcohol is used to wipe the blade, it strips any oil on the blade right off, so follow the alcohol with a fresh coat of oil.

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Sword Maintanence Threads

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Wed Nov 01, 2006 10:40 am

See also:



Field Sharpening Swords

http://www.grtc.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=331



Straightening a Bent Sword Blade

http://www.grtc.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=269

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Re: Cleaning Swords Used For Test Cutting Practice

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Mon Nov 06, 2006 12:02 pm

Scott M. Rodell wrote:... One can reduce the number of blemishes that result from cutting by wiping the blade off with a clean rag between cuts...


At a recent cutting practice students were wiping their blades off between turns at the target stand when one remarked, "be careful when you are wiping off your blade, you can cut right thru the paper towel & slice your finger." He then went on to explain how he did just that, fortunately his cut wasn't bad. Respect your blade, if it can cut the target, it can cut you.

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Post by PaulC » Tue Nov 07, 2006 10:51 pm

Another compound I found very useful to use on modern steel- high polished swords is Simichrome. put a few very small dabs of this on each side of the blade; carefully wipe it around with paper towel, working a bit more in the spots with staining (be careful of those edges! use a glove) then wipe the blade clean with a clean rag. You don't even need oil after this process. A protective film is left behind.



After a few uses you will actually see the polish of the blade improving!

caution - do not use this on a blade that has been traditionally polished or has a 'hamon' Simichrome will remove all of that careful polishing in no time and make everything look the same.

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Post by Angus Trim » Sun May 27, 2007 8:18 pm

One thing that works real well for me is Windex and related products.

Wood, cardboard, or mat residue, will come off fairly easily after spraying on Windex. Sometimes only a rag will be necessary to do the cleaning, a scratchy pad is unnecessary.

Drying thoroughly afterwards is necessary, and oiling too.........

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Post by Graham Cave » Mon May 28, 2007 3:30 am

I keep wondering how soldiers looked after their blades when on the battlesfield? Would they have cleaned and oiled them in between skirmishes?

Some of my woodworking tools are over 100 years old and consequently well patinated. They not only look and feel good but cut superbly and I would never dream of polishing them as they would lose so much character.

I understand that pitting is detrimental to the structural integrity of the steel but does the surface patination need to be removed? If not then if a blade used everyday should not need to be oiled, cleaning alone would be sufficient to eliminate pitting. I have a kitchen knife with a high carbon steel central plate, about 4mm of the plate is exposed. It is used every day, washed in water and dried - it has a wonderful blue mottled patination which contasts nicely with the sharpened edge and there is no pitting.

Graham

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Post by Scott M. Rodell » Mon May 28, 2007 10:03 am

Graham Cave wrote:... wondering how soldiers looked after their blades when on the battlesfield? Would they have cleaned and oiled them in between skirmishes?...
The great advantage to being a dealer is I've had owned (temporarily) over 600 pieces. Many of these are not fine museum qualtiy examples, but the real "users." Judging from the state these users are found in, I'd suggest that their owners locally poilished out edge damage as need, just as we would today after damaage from test cutting. I imagine they treated thier swords as you do your tools. What you care about is that your tools are kept in usable condition, not whether they are pretty. A soldier on the field must of had the same point of view. Besides, after battle, who would have the energy to spend many hours repolishing one's entire blade?

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