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Joel Whitmore




Location: Simmesport, LA
Joined: 25 Aug 2003

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PostPosted: Sun 30 Oct, 2005 9:51 am    Post subject: What did mideval soldiers use for oil?         Reply with quote

I was wondering what was used to protect the blades of medieval swords. Did they use mideral oil, some form of animal oils,? I have never heard anyone talk about it really and I was curious. Did they use anything? Anyone have any info?

Joel
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David Black Mastro




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PostPosted: Mon 31 Oct, 2005 6:22 am    Post subject: Re: What did mideval soldiers use for oil?         Reply with quote

Joel Whitmore wrote:
I was wondering what was used to protect the blades of medieval swords. Did they use mideral oil, some form of animal oils,? I have never heard anyone talk about it really and I was curious. Did they use anything? Anyone have any info?

Joel


Hi Joel,

Ah, rust prevention!

If I recall correctly, Christopher Poor from Arms & Armour stated that olive oil was often used.

The Vikings apparently made scabbards for their swords that were lined with sheep's wool, and the lanolin in the wool acted as a protectant.

A blacksmith friend of mine once spoke of some Ancient or Medieval concoction involving some type of oil (I can't remember which) and beeswax.

And, in terms of armor, I know that helmets and the like were occasionally given a special finish by constant buffing with sheep's fat.


Hope this helps,

David

"Why meddle with us--you are not strong enough to break us--you know that you have won the battle and slaughtered our army--be content with your honor, and leave us alone, for by God's good will only have we escaped from this business" --unknown Spanish captain to the Chevalier Bayard, at the Battle of Ravenna, 1512
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 31 Oct, 2005 11:11 am    Post subject: Re: What did mideval soldiers use for oil?         Reply with quote

David Black Mastro wrote:
Joel Whitmore wrote:
I was wondering what was used to protect the blades of medieval swords. Did they use mideral oil, some form of animal oils,? I have never heard anyone talk about it really and I was curious. Did they use anything? Anyone have any info?

Joel


Hi Joel,

Ah, rust prevention!

If I recall correctly, Christopher Poor from Arms & Armour stated that olive oil was often used.

The Vikings apparently made scabbards for their swords that were lined with sheep's wool, and the lanolin in the wool acted as a protectant.

A blacksmith friend of mine once spoke of some Ancient or Medieval concoction involving some type of oil (I can't remember which) and beeswax.

And, in terms of armor, I know that helmets and the like were occasionally given a special finish by constant buffing with sheep's fat.


Hope this helps,

David


So, what exactly are the specific differences between the treatments used by medieval combatants on their weapons and modern day gun oil? I suspect that medieval treatments were less effective, but if so, why exactly is this the case?
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Geoff Wood




Location: UK
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PostPosted: Mon 31 Oct, 2005 1:54 pm    Post subject: oil advantages disadvantages         Reply with quote

IIRC at least some of the vegetable and animal oils will breakdown leaving acidic residues over time, which mineral oils don't tend to do. Also, if you've ever used lanolin, it doesn't really enhance the beauty of the blade. Often stiffens into yellowish waxy stuff (although I've found it will protect well for at least a couple of years in storage). Any of you who've handled sheep will know what I mean. Takes some washing to get of your hands.
Geoff
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Alexander Hinman




Location: washington, dc
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PostPosted: Mon 31 Oct, 2005 5:00 pm    Post subject: Re: What did mideval soldiers use for oil?         Reply with quote

David Black Mastro wrote:

A blacksmith friend of mine once spoke of some Ancient or Medieval concoction involving some type of oil (I can't remember which) and beeswax.


I think he's talking about Linseed Oil (I also include turpentine in the mix) but I wouldn't use that on a blade for one fundamental reason: Getting it hot enough to rub the concoction on (it must smoke a little bit when applied) may ruin the temper.

I use the stuff on the various hooks, pokers, letter openers, candle holders etc. that I've made, but I'd be wary of doing it on a blade, unless in a well-controlled environment. Modern ovens may make doing this possible, but I don't use them or make knives that *deserve* that kind of treatment. The last one I made (out of a railroad spike) looks like a very, very ugly mini-machete. Cuts nicely, though.
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Philip Cromwell




Location: Edinburgh, UK
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PostPosted: Tue 01 Nov, 2005 6:40 am    Post subject: Re: What did mideval soldiers use for oil?         Reply with quote

Alexander Hinman wrote:


I think he's talking about Linseed Oil (I also include turpentine in the mix) but I wouldn't use that on a blade for one fundamental reason: Getting it hot enough to rub the concoction on (it must smoke a little bit when applied) may ruin the temper.



Have you tried this? I always learned that with most steels, you draw temper at around 400 F, which seems pretty high just to get oil running freely. I don't do a lot of blades, though, so I don't have much experience with this sort of thing.
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Jesse Frank
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Location: Tallahassee, Fl
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PostPosted: Tue 01 Nov, 2005 8:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I normally use a 50 50 mix by volume of beeswax and olive oil. It works quite well. It isn't completely necessary to melt it, although that can help if you want a really thick coat. I sometimes use it just like ren wax, just take a soft cloth, rub it on the semi hard mixture, and rub on the blade. I also use it for a leather conditioner. It is freaking outstanding for that, although I use more wax for that purpose, closer to 70: 30, or the sheath ends up feeling sort of greasy. One of the main things l like that combo for is that it does an outstanding job of protecting the blade in the sheath. I had a knife protected with this mix, in a sheath conditioned with the 50:50 mix for over a year here in humid florida with no rust whatsoever.
http://jfmetalsmith.com/
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Daniel Parry




Location: UK
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PostPosted: Tue 01 Nov, 2005 11:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think the Japanese may have used the oil from cloves historically. Seem to recall that from somewhere, but there are plenty of nihonto gurus on the sight who can confirm or deny that I'm sure.
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Alexander Hinman




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PostPosted: Tue 01 Nov, 2005 4:56 pm    Post subject: Re: What did mideval soldiers use for oil?         Reply with quote

Philip Cromwell wrote:

Have you tried this? I always learned that with most steels, you draw temper at around 400 F, which seems pretty high just to get oil running freely. I don't do a lot of blades, though, so I don't have much experience with this sort of thing.


I myself have not because I was specifically advised against it. But then again, I'm using a coal forge, so temperature and evenness are much harder to control.

However, I have heated a spoon I made to around 375 in a conventional oven and dipped that in cooking oil, and that did an okay job (no smoking, though), not as good as the inedible mixture, mind.

Of course, if you want a mirror-shiny blade I doubt you can use this stuff at all. It dulls the finish (since it goes into the pores of the steel) and it gets scraped off with polishing.

Last, tempering starts at 420 with a pale yellow, and goes to dull grey at 650. A good article written by a smith I know can be found here: http://www.anvilfire.com/21centbs/armor/atli/swords1.htm

Edit: OH! Wait! I just realised where I had gotten everyone around me (and incidentally myself) confused. To apply the mixture I described, the steel has to be heated, not the concoction so much (though that helps to, but only because we use a rag with a steel holder to apply it. Heavy apologies for any confusion I may have caused. Got to watch that grammar.


Last edited by Alexander Hinman on Wed 02 Nov, 2005 3:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Joe Yurgil





Joined: 01 Jun 2004

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PostPosted: Tue 01 Nov, 2005 7:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Parry wrote:
I think the Japanese may have used the oil from cloves historically. Seem to recall that from somewhere, but there are plenty of nihonto gurus on the sight who can confirm or deny that I'm sure.


Choji is actually just mineral oil with only a few drops of clove oil in it.

I find it pretty easy to use, although I wouldn't let anything sit in it for a long time without a recleaning.

Sj, ar s ek fur minn.
Sj, ar s ek mur mina ok systur mina ok brur minn.
Sj, ar s ek allan minn frndgar.
Sj, kalla eim tl min.
Bija mr at taka minn sta hj eim slum Valhallar, ar drengiligr menn munu lifa allan aldr.
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Bruno Giordan





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PostPosted: Mon 19 Dec, 2005 8:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Olive oil

i live in nortehrn italy, in a spot where olive oil is still made acording to age old techniques.

Olive oil is regularly used by old farmers to protect their iron and steel tools, also old tools that are often kept as museum pieces in farms are oiled for protection.

This oil (extra virgin) has an extremely low acidity.

It has a moderate but effective derusting quality, since freshly rusted pieces can be restored to a clean state in a day or less, while the treatment respects highly the surface.

It may be used as a cooler for tempering as well as a mean for natural blackening.
the downside of it is that for a foreigner it could be costly (15 - 17 euros per liter here, abroad much more), but more than often a bit less than half a teaspoon of it would be more than enough for a blade.

It is considered one of the best gourmet oil in the world, so it may have a proper use in cooking as well ...
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Wolfgang Armbruster





Joined: 03 Apr 2005

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PostPosted: Mon 19 Dec, 2005 10:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
It is considered one of the best gourmet oil in the world, so it may have a proper use in cooking as well ...


So true Happy I use it for cooking and it also tastes just as good if you put it on a piece of roasted bread. (but it's gotta be extra vergine Big Grin)

Sorry, I'm getting off-topic here :P


For countries north of the alps I guess people used animal-fats/oils. Can't think of anything else except for the already mentioned Lineseed-oil. It's still being produced in many parts of Germany AFAIK. Gotta search for it on my next stop to the supermarket. Wink
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Mon 19 Dec, 2005 10:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oakeshott mentioned that grease was used (he didn't name the source of said grease, though). The combination of grease and indoor dust and humidity conditions is what he said often led to the distinctive patination pattern/look found on swords preserved in churches.
Happy

ChadA

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