Antique swords are treasured collectors' items that need repair or restoration in order to maintain their value. Chips to the blade and the infiltration of rust are the typical issues. It is important to use traditional techniques when restoring an antique sword to avoid further damage or deterioration. Sometimes during the restoration process, the blade is completely reshaped. This would make the sword worthless. Ensure this does not happen by consulting a specialist if you decide to restore your sword.
Examine your sword to find the signature of its smith. In some cultures, swordsmiths signed their blades. This was particularly common for Japanese swords. Determine the smith and the school in order to restore the blade to the correct style and shape for the blade and placement of the ridge. For instance, the Yamato school creates a high ridge which produces a diamond shape to the blade. It is important to remain faithful to the original shape of the blade in order to maintain its value.
Apply petroleum distillate cleaner on the sword when there is no indication of rust and use a cotton rag to polish.
Apply acid-free oil or wax to the blade when rust is present. Rub the wax or oil onto the blade and then remove using a cotton rag. Repeat the application until no more dirt or rust is removed from the blade. Gun oil and Johnson wax are appropriate. Do not try to remove dark, pitted rust in this manner. The wax and oil will assist in protecting the blade from further rust.
Use a Scotch-Brite pad with acid-free wax to remove new red rust. Lightly polish the blade with the pad so as not to add new scratches. After the red rust is removed, repeat Step 3.
Create the 60/40 ammonia/water solution and apply to the hilt of the sword. This will clean and stabilise a hilt made of leather or wood. A leather protection lotion can be applied with a cotton swab after cleaning. Acid-free oil can be used to polish and protect a steel hilt. If the hilt is composed of enamel, use hot soapy water to clean.
Consult a sword expert before using sandpaper or a sander to smooth out chips and rust. In some instances, it is better to leave these impurities in place rather than change the original shape of the blade.
Sometimes it is not cost-effective to restore a sword if it will not increase the market value.
Things you need
- Cotton rag
- Petroleum distillate cleaner
- Acid-free oil or wax
- Scotch-Brite pad
- 60/40 ammonia/water solution
- Hot soapy water
- Leather protection lotion
- Cotton swab