Care Of Your Knives & Collection
Taking care of your knives is very important, no matter if you use your knives regularly or if you collect them and keep them in long term storage.
Below we hope you will find some useful suggestions to keep your knives maintained in the best condition possible.
The Regularly Used Field Knife
Long Term Storage of Collectable Knives.
Diving and Underwater Use
A regularly used knife should always be kept in a sharpened and clean condition. Unsharpened knives can be more dangerous to use.
A knife is a tool and should be cared for the same as any other tool. A knife's purpose is to cut, maintain a regular sharpening schedule to keep it in a ready to use state. A dull knife requires more pressure asserted to perform its task which also means more of a chance of slippage and injury. After cleaning your knife, avoid touching the blade with your hands. Your body contains salts and acids that are harmful to metal, use a dry cloth (cotton is preferred) if possible whenever you need to touch the blade. After the cleaning always make sure that you apply a light coat of light oil such as a knife oil or sewing machine oil, it is the most essential maintenance task to perform. Oil will keep your metal areas free from rust and oxidation. When storing collectable knives for long periods of time, special care should be given to make sure that they are in the absolute best condition before starting their storage. Always perform the basics-(inspection, cleaning, dried, and lubricated with knife oil). These steps will get you started in preparing your knives for long storage. Always make sure that all fingerprints or handling marks are removed totally during the cleaning, the last thing that should touch your knives is a clean dry cotton cloth. Professional knife collectors will not even touch their high value knives without wearing white cotton gloves. That is the first basic rule for most museum curators when handling any type high value metal antiques such as guns or knives. Different collectors store their knives in different ways depending on their location, seasonal temperatures and humidity levels. If your storage is in a high heat, high humidity area, you may wish to wrap each knife separately in a cotton cloth, and place them within an air tight plastic sealed bag. Some collectors use vacuum sealed bags so they can remove all of the remaining air. If you live in a warm dry area with hardly any humidity or rapid change in temperatures you may not need the air tight bag but you may wish to wrap each knife in saran wrap and then in a cotton cloth before committing them to a storage unit. Always store sheaths, cardboard, wood cases and display boxes, paper, or anything else which may retain moisture in a separate area away from your knives. Coastal regions are especially difficult due to the moisture and salt content blown in from the ocean.
We would suggest the air tight vacuum sealed bag storage system here as well as and additional sealed storage container such as a military ammo box which has a rubber seal to keep elements out.
(Note) All the storage suggestions above should only be performed after the initial basics listed above are completed. Storage containers, cabinets, boxes, all play an important part as well. As we mentioned earlier, if you have a wooden storage area, check to make sure the wood is sealed or it can retain moisture. Large storage units and display cabinets manufactured by knife companies now cover their boxes with a laminated plastic or vinyl veneer on the exterior and interior to block moisture. Some additional ideas that collectors have used is to place a common bowling alley hand drying bag or other moisture collecting items inside their storage area to help remove any moisture from within. If you do this you should check and replace them occasionally. Any sealed metal box such as the ammo box we mentioned above will make a good first line of defense against moisture but note that metal WILL condensate moisture within when subjected to extreme alternating temperatures so store in an appropriate area and use reasonable judgment. We do not recommend using waxes or silicone based sealants on collectable knives, just like furniture, they can build up in time and make it more difficult to remove later, possibly hurting the finish. A good knife oil will keep your knife lubricated as well as supply a good line of defense. One wax exception would be a good quality Renaissance wax used for preserving valuable antiques and museum pieces. One of the great temptations is when you have a highly decorative knife that you like to display. Displaying it is OK as long as you remember and protect it from the things that can harm it. If you are going to display the knife, do so in a controlled area within a moderate temperature range, preferably within a sealed display case of some type. Do not allow admirers to handle it or take it out of its case. Check it periodically for any spots that may be forming, especially on the side you do not see in the case. We suggest only hand sharpening your knives, often a grinding wheel type sharpening will heat the blade to temperatures that will melt away protective coatings and in some extremes warp and discolor the blade. Using a good sharpening stone wet/dry can give you a nice razor sharp edge for the small amount of effort.
If your knives are rare and very valuable, we suggest ONLY having them cleaned or worked on by a professional knife smith/cleaner with a well-known reputation.
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