Valyrian Steel
Valyrian steel is always dark (III: 682)

Sword Maintenance

We get questions from time to time about sword maintenance. This post will henceforth serve as a location for such information.

Presently we make swords out of three materials, maintenance needs will depend on the material.

Stainless Steel

If your sword is made from stainless steel, such as Longclaw or book Ice it needs almost no maintenance. Stainless steel isn’t fully rust proof, over a very long period of time it can still show some corrosion. You should do your best to keep it out of water and keep fingerprints off it. The acid in a fingerprint can, if left on the blade over a long period (months, years), still mark it. But generally, hanging up, unless someone touches it, you need to do nothing.

High Carbon Steel

If your sword is made from high carbon steel, such as book Needle, show Ice, Robb Sword, or anything in Damascus it needs maintenance. Ambient humidity can cause pitting, as well as actual water and finger prints. The blade should be wiped with a soft cloth after any handling, and you should keep it oiled or waxed regularly. Mineral oil works, as well as any oil sold or labeled for use with knives or guns, do not use a vegetable oil. For a more long term solution a product called Renaissance Wax is available. If the sword becomes pitted or rusted you will need to polish it with a product like Metal Glo or Bar Keeper’s Friend. The Bar Keeper’s Friend powder (get the powder kind) works very well with a scrubbing sponge (such as Scotch Brite) at removing rust or pitting. Just make sure you wipe the blade off thoroughly immediately after you finish and even rinse it with water, as leaving the cleaner on it can cause even more corrosion. Then dry dry dry thoroughly, and coat with oil. High carbon steel swords will ship to you with an oil coating on, but even that is not foolproof, so they should not be stored long term.

Damascus Steel

Damascus steel is a blend of two types of high carbon steel, so all that is true for high carbon steel is true for damascus steel. Except because it is so much more valuable you should be even more vigilant. Also, if your damascus does get blemished, be careful when polishing so that you do not wear off the patina. Test the polish first in a small spot.

Handle Parts

All our handle parts have a protective finish and should not need any maintenance.

52 Responses to “Sword Maintenance”

  1. Or Efrima  Says:

    Hey!

    Thanks for the info! REALLY good to know :)

    A friend of mine left a couple of fingerprints on Needle and I didn’t notice that till a couple of weeks later…It had stains and rust :(

    I managed to get rid of most of the stains, but there are still a couple of blotchy grey spots where the major stains were..It’s unfortunate, but I have nothing else to do I guess..

    On another note, Just got my Ice! Thanks for making so an awesome sword! It’s simply amazing! Will be sure to post a comment on it’s page later on…And the info above will assist me in keeping it away from harm :)

    Have an awesome day! Winter is coming!

  2. Dwayne  Says:

    Thanks VS for posting this info! I didn’t realize that Needle was High Carbon Steel! Now I just have to make the time to buy the oil and do the maintenance!

    A few questions (and probably more to come):
    1. Stainless Steel – if you were to “maintain” it you would use the same oil as on the other blade types?

    2. Regular maintenance – I assume “regular” depends on whether it is displayed or not, humidity, etc… I think you replied to one of my inquiries that I could do monthly if displayed or every couple of months if stored – is that right?

    3. How much oil/wax should one use? How long should it take to oil a blade? Can I use any kind of cloth?

    4. You refer to Renaissance Wax as a “more long-term solution” – how often would I have to rub the blades down with this rather than a mineral oil?

    Thanks!

  3. Tony  Says:

    It’s like you read my mind. Fantastic Information – Thanks!

    What cloth would you recommend to apply the Renaissance Wax? Silcone coated or just like something I would use on my car? (May seem overly micro-detailed, but I’m a total noob to cutlery.)

    I saw silicone cleaning cloths. Would these work for “regular maintenance,” or would they not mix well with Rennaissance Wax?

    PS – Have you thought about selling a kit, because I (and I’m sure many others) would be happy to buy a complete kit from you. I’m willing to buy one right now with Renaissance Wax, Metal Glow, Cloths, instructions, and whatever else you think we should have to keep your swords looking great!

  4. valyrian  Says:

    Any soft cloth should be fine, whatever the manufacturer of the polishing product recommends.

    @Dwayne

    1. Yes.

    2. Yes, if you notice it corroding, you need to do it more frequently.

    3. Oiling will take a minute or so, waxing longer. For oil you want to apply enough to coat it, for wax following instructions on the can.

    4. Much less frequently, they use it in museums for long term displays. But it will depend on if/how often the sword is handled.

  5. arthur  Says:

    Use a cotton flannel cloth such as an old pillowcase cover, preferably one that has been washed numerous times.
    Use oil such as a household “3-in-1″ SAE 20. Use sparingly. A little goes a long way.
    Oil used for cleaning a rifle will do nicely as well.
    Do NOT use silicone.
    And remember, Winter Is Truly Coming!

  6. Luke  Says:

    http://www.sword-buyers-guide.com

    Has all the answers to all your questions.

  7. Dwayne  Says:

    VS – Another question. My damascus Longclaw came already oiled and the blade was in a plastic bag. Is there any reason why I couldn’t re-use the plastic bag after I’ve applied a fresh coat of oil to the blade?
    Thanks!

  8. valyrian  Says:

    You’ll want to make sure that the plastic is holding oil up against the blade, and not any random moisture.

  9. Scott  Says:

    Something tells me these bad boys won’t take an edge. You know how difficult it’s going to be to take a head off with a dull Ice?

  10. Pablo  Says:

    What is the best way to clean the suede of Ice?

  11. Peter Regan  Says:

    Fist scotch guard the shade then……. never touch it…… Seriously the suade will go quickly if you are always swinging it around like I will. Im gonna try to wrap mu shade is plastic wrap or something like that

  12. Sara  Says:

    I’m considering buying Needle sometime soonish, but I want to know how to maintain it first. I have read the text here, but I’m unsure what kind of oil I should get. I don’t know how to get those that you linked in Sweden.
    I did some research and somebody mentioned linseed oil (linolja in Swedish) being good for carbon steel knives, so I thought maybe it would be good for Needle too. I’m not sure though.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linseed_oil

  13. martyn  Says:

    i just ordered roberts warhammer and was wandering does it need maintenance like the swords, i have Renaissance Wax witch i used on ice and longclaw witch was perfect or is it self maintenance?? thanks

  14. valyrian  Says:

    The hammer will need no maintenance, every surface is plated or coated in some fashion.

  15. Keith  Says:

    @Scott – Don’t bother with trying to put an edge on any stainless steel sword, or on any sword that isn’t constructed at the outset to be functional, because you are wasting your time. With very rare exception, stainless is for display swords only, or very short, smaller blades. These swords are beautiful display pieces, but do not think you can actually “do battle” with any of them.

  16. rafael  Says:

    Is it ok to swing the stainless steel Ice? Swinging without hitting anything with it, just for fun.

  17. valyrian  Says:

    Yes, just do it outside, and make sure no one is around.

  18. Stephanie  Says:

    Just got Needle. Awesome sword. What brand of mineral oil do you recommend that I use on the blade?

  19. valyrian  Says:

    any kind should be fine so long as it has no weird additives.

  20. Samuel  Says:

    Needle was given to me as a gift, so I had no idea it required maintenance of any sort. I have had it hanging on a wall, but multiple people have handled it. I was admiring it the other day when I noticed significant corrosion had appeared in multiple places on the blade. I’ve attempted to polish it using a pillowcase and Metal Glo but it does not seem to be making a dent in the rust. Should I use an abrasive surface before attempting to polish it?

  21. valyrian  Says:

    metal glo is an abrasive, you could also try bar keeper’s friend. But it really requires elbow grease, you have to rub hard and for a decent amount of time. You could also try polishing it with very fine graded steel wool or sandpaper meant for use in polishing metal.

  22. Snow  Says:

    How real is this Damascus steel really?? When you hear about Damascus steel it rivals the hardiness of a katana. Is this the long lost art of forging Damascus steel rediscovered or is it just the water patterns on the blade that make it look like Damascus??

  23. Amanda  Says:

    I recently ordered Needle as a gift for my boyfriend, who is most likely going to mount it on the wall with almost no handling. I was planning to buy him the Renaissance Wax for maintenance (as well as the Metal Glo just in case). I was just wondering how often should the wax be applied? Especially since it will have almost no handling and be situated in a pretty humidity-free location.

  24. valyrian  Says:

    Follow the package instructions. Generally the wax lasts a long time, months. If the item is not being handled (hence, the use in museums for items in glass display cases).

  25. Chandler Hull  Says:

    Thinking of buying needle and the dragonglass dagger, is there any maintenance needed for the dagger?

  26. valyrian  Says:

    No the dagger is essentially glass, it doesn’t need anything.

  27. Adam Geddes  Says:

    I’m a proud owner of Robb Starks sword, I’m curious as to whether the sword could potentially rust where the blade meets the guard as there is a gap. What do you think?

  28. Emad Hassan  Says:

    I’m totally new to all this and i just got my sword. Steel. People say i have to oil my sword to keep it safe and i also have to polish it with metal polish but my question is do i polish the sword before or after oiling it. or do i do either one?

  29. Matt  Says:

    Hey there,

    Just wondering about matinence with the sword if they are in the scabbards, I have both needle and the sword of robb stark with scabbards. My question is when i polish the blades with the wax/ oil and the put it back in the scabbard does this affect the blade?

    Cheers

  30. valyrian  Says:

    I would not store them in the scabbards long term in case any chemical in the leather reacts with the blade, and or creates a too-humid environment. If you’re putting them up for long term storage, store them separately. Any wax or oil on the blade is not going to hurt the inside of the scabbard though.

  31. Dylan  Says:

    I just purchased the Rob Stark sword, I have ordered the recommended wax and polish for carbon steel, are there instructions when i receive the polish and wax of what kind of cloth I should use for it, and how often should I polish and wax it?

  32. valyrian  Says:

    the wax can last months if undisturbed. The polish is only needed if you see signs of tarnish.

  33. Dylan  Says:

    What is the best kind of cloth to use that is inexpensive.

  34. Cory  Says:

    Any plans to sell a kit? Oil, cloth, instructions etc. I know I would buy one.

  35. Ryan  Says:

    Should the Renaissance Wax be used with the oil, or is it an alternative?

    If it is an alternative, should I wipe away the oil from blade, then apply?

  36. Jason  Says:

    I have the Ice, but with out the back plate or paper work, bought it for 400 Australian dollars off a swap vendor to vendor. is their a place on the sword to see its run . out of 250 swords, I would like to know which sword I have? and do you sell a scabbard for such?

  37. valyrian  Says:

    Assuming you’re talking about the damascus ice book version limited edition – yes, it is lasered onto the back near the hilt. But at $400… I think you either got a deal or you got ripped off and its a knockoff. Those are going for several thousand dollars.

  38. Alva  Says:

    First thing I tell anyone before showing them a sword of any quality is “Don’t touch the blade.” Never the less the always put their thumb on the edge and i just want to skewer them. One sword is easy to take care of but you start to get touchy when you have 10 or more to clean.

  39. Matthew  Says:

    Is an automotive oil suitable for stage combat weapons (say, Marvel Mystery) an acceptable substitute for carbon steel swords like Robb’s?

  40. Kevin  Says:

    I have the same question as Ryan. For the Damascus Ice, the sword ships with oil on the blade – to apply Renaissance Wax, should I wipe off all the oil first, before applying the wax?

    Also, would it damage the damascus steel if I washed it with some soapy water and made sure to dry it thoroughly? Just to ensure the blade is free from any particles before applying the wax.

  41. Jordan Mooney  Says:

    I have a question, I am hoping to purchase Robert’s hammer (really wish Martin gave it a really cool name) some time later this year and I would like to know what sort of maintenance would it require? does the head need polishing should I polish the handle if there are finger prints? never actually owned something like this before so I am very new to what is needed

  42. Pierce  Says:

    I bought several Damascus Ice, and I don’t want to open up some. How long will the oil last to protect them if I don’t open them ?

    Thanks.

  43. Dylan  Says:

    how long can a sword be on display in the scabbard, I just purchased the Robb Stark scabbard for my sword and I noticed you said not to store it long term but if it is on display about how many times should I remove it and check on it?

  44. eve  Says:

    Well met VS. I have Book Needle HC Steel and 2 show swords, Rob’s and Longclaw. Only Longclaw is Stainless Steel. inquires…#1 can I sharpen the edges of any of these blades at home with a sharpening stone (someone suggested that), I am thinking “not”, but thought I’d ask. #2 I have read about using mineral oil or renaissance wax to maintain and clean off rust and fingerprints from High Carbon swords (Rob’s and Needle), but what do I use on Longclaw which is stainless steel?
    gratitude in advance for answers.
    Winter is Coming (countdown here is in 4 months)

  45. Eve  Says:

    OK, so, I got answers for my questions in the last post, but not having actually taken my swords and cleaned them and then used renaissance wax on them today I see they’re all fine except for pitting on the back of Needle. (again, I have Rob’s sword, Show Longclaw and Book Needle. I also have an Atlanta Cutlery SWEDISH VIKING SWORD.) Along with the mineral oil, Renaissance Wax and rags, I started to use 400 grade sandpaper to perhaps remove the pitting but immediately saw the shine being compromised so I stopped. I used some WD40 and rubbed hard with the rag. That helped some but now, I’m trying to find the best product to remove the pitting which I’ve learned is rust. It’s probably due to my local climate and not knowing until nearly 2 years after receiving it that it needs to be maintained and cleaned on a regular basis. grrrrr.

  46. Eve  Says:

    now taken, not “not” taken. sorry for the typo. Can’t edit posts here.

  47. Valyrian  Says:

    We’ve started using a product called Bar Keeper’s Friend, sold mainly to clean stainless steel cookware, it works really good to remove pitting. Really, really good. You can usually find it where kitchen cleaners are sold. If not, online.

  48. Valyrian  Says:

    ..and yes, don’t use sandpaper unless you want to completely repolish the blade going up to all the ultrafine grits.

  49. Eve  Says:

    I have Bar Keepers. I use it on my stainless Steel kitchen sink. Any chance you can tell me the steps I can take to rid my Needle of the pitting? Step 1: wet the blade? Step 2: put some Bar Keepers powder on a damp rag? Step 3: wipe the area until the pits are gone? Step 4: wipe off the Bar Keeper with water or Oil? Step 5: Mineral Oil it, wipe the oil THEN finish with renaissance wax, buff and Voila?
    Is that right? :)
    I’m sad that I used that sandpaper because now there’s a mark but it is very small on the wall side of my Needle.

  50. Valyrian  Says:

    You’ve got it Eve, except if you use oil you don’t need wax, with the wax and the oil its one or the other. Also I like using a scotchbrite pad instead of a rag. Slightly abrasive, but not sandpaper.

  51. Eve  Says:

    worked beautifully VS! Thanks. I used soft rags for drying, a wet pad and a simple scouring pad. By the sink I sponged the blade, poured some Bar Keepers on it, then with damp cloth mushed it around, then scouring pad, the wet pad wipe, damp cloth wipe, dry cloth wipe, mineral oil clothes wipe, then finished with renaissance wax and it’s PERFECT! No pitting and even got out the smudge from the steel wool the other day. Hazzah!

  52. Cordell  Says:

    What is the best way to clean an old coat of Renaissance wax off of the Damascus Ice blade? Or just clean the blade in general once the wax is removed. Will mineral spirits work? I want to make sure I don’t damage the blade or the pattern on the blade, but it needs the wax removed, a good cleaning, and then wax reapplied. What is the best way to apply the was as well?

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