How to Clean Rust off a Sword
Rust most definitely is a bad thing and you don’t want to have it on any of your swords. This article covers the two most effective methods for cleaning rust off your sword.
2 Methods of Rust Removal
Both of the methods I am going to show you require a bit of manual work depending on how much rust your blade has.
The first method is using a metal polish. With this item, you can just clean the entire blade in order to remove a very thin layer of steel including the rust.
As metal polish isn’t very abrasive it requires a lot of elbow grease. Americans may use Flitz or Peek metal polish. As Flitz isn’t available in the EU you can buy Peek. However, most metal polishes work fine.
The second method involves using sandpaper. For the best results, you need different grit sizes.
First, you need to start with a 220 grit followed by 660 and 1000 and finishing off with a 1500 grit. This method is useful if only parts of your blade are rusted.
As a quick side note: The lower the grit number the more coarse the sandpaper is. So we are working from a coarse to very fine sandpaper.
Both of these methods can be used on all swords and even on Japanese swords like a katana or wakizashi.
Regardless of which method you choose you need to wipe the blade clean. For this, I like to use the more “coarse” part of a regular scrubbing sponge.
It is important to hold the blade with the point facing downwards during this process! Otherwise, water might get into the guard and cause rust again.
Method 1: Metal Polish
This method involves using a metal polish like Flitz or Peek.
For optimal results, you have to clean the entire blade or else you end up with a finer polished spot.
Step 1: Tape edge of the sword
This step should be done in a matter of seconds. Apply electrical tape or masking tape to the edge of the blade in order to protect it.
This is due to the metal polish not being allowed to reach the edge of the blade. Otherwise, it will dull and you have to resharpen it.
Step 2: Apply metal polish
Now we can start with the actual polishing. Put your metal polish on a paper towel and distribute it evenly across the blade.
You might have to rub for quite some while as metal polish is only mildly abrasive. Make sure to polish in the direction of the length of the blade.
Step 3: Remove Tape & Clean Sword
Great, we’re done. 👍 Remove the masking tape and rinse the blade with water.
As mentioned before when cleaning the blade with water keep in mind to hold it with the edge facing downwards.
Method 2: Sandpaper
If only tiny parts of your sword are rusty this method is way faster. You basically just need different grit sizes of automotive sandpaper in order to scrub the rust off the blade.
For the best result, you should use at least 220 grit followed by 600 and then 1500 grit sandpaper. Optionally you can use 1000 grit sandpaper as well.
In general, the more different grit sizes you use the better the result. However, you need to make sure to work from a more coarse to a finer sandpaper (from a lower to a higher grit number).
Step 1: Use 220 grit sandpaper
Take the sandpaper and rub it on the rusty part of your blade. Keep in mind to wipe only in the direction of the length of the blade. Keep going until the rust is gone.
Step 2: Use 600 grit sandpaper
As the rust is already removed the only thing we have to do now is eliminating the scratches created by the coarse sandpaper. After rubbing for a while move on to the next step.
Step 3: Use 1000 grit sandpaper
Although optional using a 1000 grit sandpaper helps achieve a better overall final result.
Step 4: Use 1500 grit sandpaper
Scrub your blade a few times with the very fine 1500 grit sandpaper. This will most likely suffice for restoring your sword to the oringinal condition.
However, if you want a more polished and shiny blade you can use 2000 and even 3000 grit sandpapers.
What is better than successfully removing rust from a blade?
Correct! Having not to remove rust at all. Therefore, proper maintenance is of utmost importance.
For this purpose, you need to apply a thin layer of oil to the blade. There is a wide variety of oils you can use. For example camellia oil or mineral oil. However, make sure not to use heavy oil such as motor oil.
If you want to store your sword for an extended period of time you might want to take a look at Renaissance Wax. I’ve never used it, but it has the reputation to allow storing your swords almost indefinitely.