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Samurai Sword Care

Updated on March 3, 2013

How to Care for Your Samurai Sword

Samurai swords can be a great decoration piece, or a practical training tool for the serious martial artist. Either way, you really need to make sure you keep your samurai sword in good working order. These aren't kitchen knives, so you can't just wash them off and put them back in the drawer. Samurai swords are expertly crafted pieces of functional art (the good ones, at least), so proper maintenance and care for them is essential.

Here are some basic steps you can take to ensure that your samurai sword is well cared for:

  1. Always put the sword back in its scabbard (saya) when done. This protects the blade from long exposure to corrosive air and helps keep the blade straight (plus, it keeps you from accidentally running into the blade edge one night with your foot. Ouch!)

  2. Don't touch the blade with your hands. You hands produce oils that can damage the blade over time. Some samurai sword martial arts have strict rules about not touching the blade, while others are not as concerned. Either way, keep hand-to-blade contact to a strict minimum.

  3. Apply oil to the sword blade regularly. Failure to oil your blade will cause your blade to rust over time. It's that simple. You can use natural or synthetic oil for this. Mineral oil, clove oil, and camellia are good natural oils to use. For synthetic oil, silicone oil in a spray can works just fine. You only need to oil the blade about once per month (that's plenty).

  4. Don't cut extremely hard objects with your samurai sword. What I mean is, don't go around hacking a tree trunks or large branches. A good samurai sword is tough, but they weren't designed to chop down trees - that's what axes are for. Cutting into hard wood can permanently damage your blade or even break it.

  5. Don't bang two swords together like they do in the movies. True, samurai swords on the battle field would come into contact with each other like this, but a true samurai would try hard to avoid this. Clashing steel against steel is dangerous for one thing, but can nick, bend, or break the blade.

Brand New Swords

If you order your katana sword online, most good factory swords will be shipped with a thick coating of oil or grease to protect the blade during shipment. You can easily remove this with solvent such as lacquer thinner or mineral spirits.

Once you've removed this thick coating, re-oil the sword with a coat of Choji Oil, clove oil, or silicone oil. I would also recommend buying a standard sword care kit. Most good swords will come with this kit, but if it doesn't you can find one online. It's a small box with everything you need for basic samurai sword care.

Samurai Sword Sharpening

Leave this to the professionals. You can find someone online or in your area that can handle this for you. But, if you really, really, really want to try it yourself, here are some instructions (but I don't recommend it. This isn't like sharpening your pocket knife on a whetstone).

Storing Your Samurai Sword

When you're not using the samurai sword, always store the sword blade down inside the scarab (saya) and either prop it up against a corner, or place it on a stand (vertically or horizontally - just depends on the stand). Try to keep it in a dry, cool place with low humidity and low heat. Apply a light coat of oil before storing it for a long period of time. If you don't use the sword that often, re-oil it about every 6 months in normal storing temperatures; every month for very humid temperatures.

Wood Care

The wooden parts of your samurai sword generally don't need as much attention as the blade does, but there are few things you can to preserve the handle (tsuka) and scabbard (saya). Lacquer, varnish, or wood wax works fine for the scabbard. Furniture lemon oil is good for cleaning the handle (tsuka).

Conclusion

Remember, your samurai sword is not a toy and is not a kitchen knife, so you need to care for it and love it if you want it to last a lifetime.

For more tips and information on katana sword care be sure to visit this page. It includes some basic facts that every sword owner should know.

Katana Sword Maintenance Kit

If you want to do proper maintenance of your katana sword it's recommended that you get a quality authentic maintenance kit. They are very cheap to obtain, as you can see below.

Disclaimer

Samurai swords are dangerous weapons that can hurt, maim, or kill people if not handled properly. If you don't know how to handle a samurai sword responsibly, don't try. Always use supervision when handling a samurai sword. The author is not responsible for any accident or injury resulting from improper use of a samurai sword. Always obey the laws of your state regarding samurai sword purchase and samurai sword use.

For more information on samurai sword use, sword recommendations, sword history, and sword buyer's guide, check out this site: Katana Sword Site.

Paul Chen Sword Recommendations

If you aren't familiar with Paul Chen swords (also referred to as Hanwei), these are fully functional swords (able to cut light to medium stuff with) of high quality and reasonably priced. I highly recommend these for the beginner swordsman.

Paul Chen-Hanwei - Practical Plus Series - Katana
Paul Chen-Hanwei - Practical Plus Series - Katana

A great sword for any level. This is good for general cutting.

 
Paul Chen-Hanwei - Large Case
Paul Chen-Hanwei - Large Case

The best sword bag you'll ever find. I have one. I wouldn't trade it for anything. This fits about 3 sword comfortably.

 

Cold Steel Sword Recommendations

Cold Steel is a company better known for their high-quality knives, but in the last few years, they've proven they can make a fine samurai sword as well. These katana are strong, durable, and reasonably priced. They can be a little expensive, but the quality is extremely good.

The Imperial series has a mirror finish and nicer fittings. The warrior series is just a bare-bones sword (but still looks and cuts just as nice).

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      As an interesting read, I recommend it to my lenses.

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      MyTheraphistDotCom 9 years ago

      thanks for the comment and feedback.

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      hi josh, i've added u too as my group featured lens...

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      CollectorsCottage 9 years ago

      Wow, great information! I know a couple of people with samurai and Civil War sword collections - all very impressive pieces. Welcome to the Collector Clubs group!

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      EelKat13 9 years ago

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      anonymous 9 years ago

      Excellent info on caring for a sword that every collector should be aware of.