A row classification of swords would divide the great number of today swords into at least three categories:
– decoration swords, or non-functional replicas,
– functional replica swords, and
– authentic swords, or ancient and rare exemplars.
All three types need to be taken care of on different scale. The easiest to maintain are stainless steel decoration swords, because they generally don’t rust. It is enough to clean the old oiling with a soft cloth and to apply a new oil coating. Functional replicas need to be taken care of on semi-regular basis, this is about ones a month. The authentic swords are true artifacts and among them can be very valuable pieces; this is why they need a specific maintenance on regular basis. Especially, knowing that most of them are made of iron alloys which are easily exposed to corrosion.
The frequency of oiling depends mainly on the conditions of keeping. Here you should consider the climate and pay attention to the humidity. So, if your climate is very humid then you should oil your swords at least once a week.
Oils and Lubricants to Be Used
Choji oil – This is a Japanese mineral oil used beginning with the medieval times. It is considered one of the best, if not the best one!!! Today this oil is also known as clove oil which indeed doesn’t reflect the reality. It is not the same clove oil you can buy in any drug store! The mistake can cost you your sword, because the clove oil you can find in a drug store causes the steel oxidation. Genuine choji oil is available in Japanese woodworking stores and costs more than the clove oil from drug stores.
Gun oil – It is also widely used for its qualities proved in time. Still this oil is not to be recommended in case of exquisite antiques. For the rest types of blades, even for very expensive replicas, any gun oil which is free of corrosive components will fit perfectly. Some of the fine gun oils are: RemOil (Remmington Oil), silicone-based oil.
Flitz – This is a metal polishing substance which helps make your sword gleam. It is recommended not to use it frequently. You can also use it to remove stains on stainless steel. Flitz contains abrasive particles this is why it should not be used with authentic Japanese swords! It can also be used to get fingerprints off the blade. It is a known fact that some people’s skin oils are very acidic and this can even stain a stainless steel blade. Of course the better way to protect the blade is NOT to touch it with fingers.
- It is important to not over oil the sword but only to create a thin coating. A few drops of good oil will do just great. Spread it with a lint cloth of a specialized paper (Japanese Abura-nuguishi).
- You need to avoid all-purpose oils because usually they contain diluents that accelerate the evaporation of oil. And also, vegetable oils, as they attract dust.
- For Japanese swords, and antique swords it is not recommended the usage of waxes, Cosmoline, Vaseline, silicone-based gel, petroleum gels, etc. All of them contain substances that attack the steel blade and trap moisture.