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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Maintaining an actively used eating knife Reply to topic
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Jeremy V. Krause

Location: Buffalo, NY.
Joined: 20 Oct 2003
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PostPosted: Thu 04 Mar, 2021 2:02 pm    Post subject: Maintaining an actively used eating knife         Reply with quote

I am interested in how to maintain a sheer steel eating knife or, more specifically, how it would have been done historically.

I am curious how a patina would form over time. I have tried some methods in the past with this knife and it seemed to just get brown with a bit of corrosion- wasn't very attractive.

Like most of you; I maintain my swords and other edged weapons with window clearer to take off any excess oil and then apply renaissance wax. I use scotchbrite pads in case any spots show up. This is currently how I maintain my eating knife as I am not using it. This creates a consistent bright-as-new finish. I am interested in starting to use my knife, developing a patina, and would like folks' thoughts on a maintenance routine.

Did they simply wipe off their knives using a damp cloth- or just wipe off and apply some type of oil? Would the oil from the food- especially meat- serve to protect the blade enough where this wouldn't be necessary? I've used olive oil in the past and this makes a kind of "gummed=up" covering on the blade.

These are the types of questions I am getting at.

Here is the knife I am looking to begin using. The sheer steel blade is made by Owen Bush and Tod finished the whole package. The handle is bone with silver pinwork. It is meant to represent the early 1300s.

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Craig Renaud

Location: Toronto, Canada
Joined: 07 Sep 2017

Posts: 9

PostPosted: Fri 05 Mar, 2021 5:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not sure what was actually done historically, but I can account for my personal upkeep using historically available materials- I'm using Tod Cutler knives, my main eating knife and bollock dagger being in use since 2019. Granted not a long time, but should be enough to show wear. YMMV with different metal compounds of course.
Our group mainly does camping events, plus a week long backcountry camping trek in 14th century kit, so knives get both heavy use and exposure.
When in use, I find just wiping off the knife with a rag after eating spreads grease from the foods over the metal and handle keeps rust well off. If it's feeling a bit dry I'll add some grease from cooking or olive oil. If it does start to get a bit nasty or threaten to rust, putting some ash on an oiled, buttered, or otherwise greasy rag and polishing the blade with it does a surprisingly good job.
When I get home, I'll wash my eating knife with the rest of my dishes, and give it a coat of olive oil to live with, and it'll be good until the next time it's needed.
I think the trick with olive oil may be to have quite a thin layer- there certainly should not be and build up. A wipe with an oiled cloth will do.
They have a darker spot or two, but overall quite clean.

I'm positive a knife blade could have been kept quite shiny in period, but it would definitely require dedication and people hours.

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