You do not need much, and what you do need is very easy to get hold of, if you don’t already have it at home. I usually bring out the following equipment when working on my collection:
- Loupe or magnifying glass to read stamps
- A piece of fine grain sand paper, grain size 1200 (as used for car scratch removal) is good for cleaning roughly soiled blades, you often want to get the knife clean enough to view the stamp first
- A piece of woven fabrics or linen sets intended for weapon care
- Gun oil, sewing machine oil or olive oil (avoid motor/engine oil, it often contains corrosive chemicals) take great care with the oil/grease if your knife has bone or ivory handle, as it can give them permanent ugly stains
- White gloves are handy to avoid leaving fatty fingerprints on the blades
- Arne Marmér’s book Knivar från Eskilstuna, since there is no translation of it, you can instead take a look at both my index of knife makers and Pimhusse’s online stamp index, linked at the bottom of this page
- When the equipment is brought out, you only need one more thing – time.
Eskilstuna knife maker Hadar Hallström often included an introductory text about knife care in his catalogues. I think it works well even in current times. What do you think?
”A knife should be treated well. He who wants to be happy with his knife uses it for the purpose for which it is made. Thus, you do not carve off a tree trunk with a blade designed to sharpen pencils. In addition, never use a knife to break up boxes, for that work, the finest knife is worse than the simplest. There are often complains that after a time of use, the blades do not go back. This is usually due to the owner himself who did not grease his knife. A knife, of course, needs to be lubricated as all other instruments are lubricated. Dip a matchstick or a steel pen in good oil, and coat the end of the blade or spring and you will always have a pleasant movement on your knife. If these small simple rules are observed, it will be of great advantage for both the buyer and the manufacturer.”
How much a knife should be polished is of course a matter of taste. I feel the knives are often the most beautiful in found condition, a little patina shows that the knife has been used for many years. However, rust and dirt need to be removed in a gentle way. Then your fine-grained sand paper, grease/oil, and linen sheets will come in handy. A tube of autosol metal polish can do wonders to clean the blades gently, even between the spacers where the blades usually rest in the recessed position.
It is extremely important that the blades are stored in a dry and airy environment. Avoid plastic bags and cans where the rust grows rapidly. It’s totally objectionable to put knives in damp basements where rust destroys many blades. An ordinary cabinet at room temperature usually works well.
Keep in mind to not put knives with celluloid handles close together without good aeration, as they are more prone to rust attacks. Celluloid excretes petroleum gases and, therefore, reduces material on the steel and causes nickel to darken.
Finally, clean the blade with a clean cloth to remove fingerprints before placing the knife in your collection. A fingerprint can quickly wear down a beautiful blade. When handling knives in mint condition you should leave on a thin coat of grease after cleaning for extra protection.
Always use white gloves when handling the blades on a cleaned knife.
PIMHUSSE’S STAMP INDEX
MY INDEX OF ESKILSTUNA KNIFE MAKERS
Verksamhetsperiod = period of operation