10 tips and comments on taking care of your knife March 31 2015, 0 Comments
Taking care of your knife
Even that we have now a high quality knife, all good quality materials, very good workmanship, it will lose its beauty and appearance if we do not take some care.
First we should know what the knife is made of, stainless steel SS or carbon steel CS. The same with the handle is it antler, bone, wood, synthetics like Micarta, G 10 etc. Also the sheath, Kydex, leather, or woven fabrics like Kevlar.
Here some tips on what to watch out for to enjoy your knife a very long time, and maybe hand it over to your son as ‘the knife daddy used’
always store your knife clean! You don’t go dirty to bed, so why should your knife. Generally wash with clean water, in case of grease and fatty/oily smudge, use some soapy water, rinse and wipe your knife dry.
- don’t use your wife’s Scotch Bride sponge in the kitchen sink on your blade or handle. Scotch Bride is highly abrasive and will get scratches into your blade and guard. We use Scotch Bride abrasives in making satin finishes and before we polish the blade, so don’t destroy our finish as no steel will stand it!
- take special care of the handle. Natural handle material like wood, bone, antler, ivory etc will absorb moisture if you soak it for a long time. Stabilized handles will stand it better, but they will budge down over time too. NEVER put your knife in the dish washer as the handle and adhesive will not stand the hot temperature and the detergent. You might not see anything the first few times, but it will come. Even resin laminated Diamond or Pakka Wood will be affected over time, natural material could be affected the first time you do it.
- if your knife has a brass or nickel silver guard/pommel you might get some coloring over time as moisture, dirt, our skin-grease will affect these materials. Typical signs are that your finger prints will show on the brass guard. Prevention is the best thing, clean and wipe dry after use. You can use once a while some mild polish, household polish you find in the kitchen etc, to get the stains off.
keep the sheath clean! This is very important as we mostly store our knife in the sheath. In case the sheath is leather and you store your knife in a wet sheath you most certainly can expect some staining and coloring, in case of CS blades even on the steel itself based on residual tanning acids in the leather. D2 Knives are prone to pit corrosion under these circumstances.
We have seen some SS knife where the blade got stained during wet storage. If your sheath is Kydex, Kevlar or similar materials you do not have the additional tanning acids as in leather but moisture or dirt will not do any good. After a rough trip in the outdoors, make sure you don’t have any sand or dirt in the sheath. Sand or dirt can embed itself into the leather, the fabric and even the Kydex and will work slowly away on your knife every time you sheath it. Remember we use ‘sanding belts’ to work on steel, sand is highly abrasive.
- if you enjoy a shiny knife and are proud to own a piece of beauty and art, use a soft, dry wash leather, Napa leather etc to get dry stuff off your knife, blade, handle, guard and pommel. You get rid of your fingerprints etc and it will look shiny. The best and easiest way to do some short term cleaning is to have a small, soft leather in your pack when hunting, fishing, camping etc. Mind to not use the leather on a wet knife, the leather is mostly put a nice shine not to get rid of dirt etc., see step 1 for general cleaning.
- if your knife has a CS blade and you intend to store it for a longer period of time put a light film of oil on the blade to protect it from oxidization, gun oil will do nicely. This is advisable even for polished CS knives. The polishing will protect the surface a bit but not for longer time. You can even wipe the handle with this oily rag, won’t hurt it unless you have an exotic material like Ivory etc. You do this with your gun, fishing rod and other outdoor’s gear so include your knife too.
if you are a fisherman & angler at the coast, always rinse your knife after use in saltwater conditions with fresh water extensively. There is no steel that will NOT get affected by saltwater! This is good practice anyway as dressing of fish, even our beloved rainbow trout, will expose the knife to acids. Do you know that when a trout is hooked too deep, just cut the line, it will DIGEST the hook……
- Don’t store your knife in a window, car windows are especially bad as the sun can heat it up pretty good. Sun can bleach the exposed handle, leather, Kydex and Kevlar. Unless you like the change of appearance from single colored handle to dual colored with a bleached part you shouldn’t do it. Exposure to sunny conditions for long time can also give checkering in the handle material as well as shrinking in natural materials. Sometimes even Micarta, G 10 etc can be affected that they want to warp and start cracking the adhesive bonding to the blade.
- Don’t be surprised if you move i.e. from the coast to the mountains and your handle shrinks or extends a bit. This is quite natural as the climate is different. Humidity in the air, different temperatures will influence all materials, some more than others. It is within the laws of physics that all materials will react to temperature and moisture, but differently. So is the expansion per degree Celsius or Fahrenheit different in steel compared to wood, brass, Micarta etc. All these materials will act a bit differently thus the change. It might take weeks or month to become apparent but it can happen.
Now having said all this, don’t get carried away. If you are on a 10 day camping, fishing, hunting or whatever outdoors trip you do a cleaning/wiping after every use (you want to peel your apple with a clean knife!!!) and a thorough one when you are back home. Just saltwater needs daily care and always keep the dirt out of your sheath as it will start grinding on your knife immediately.
- A little care goes a long way and will protect your equipment.