Maintaining and caring for your knife collection
Having spent a fair sum of money into your knife collection, taking precautions to preserve your knives is a wise thing to do. The horror stories from knife collectors start with several knives rusting or becoming damaged threaten the survival of the rest of the collection. Most people are aware that a knife’s most common enemy is moisture and hence coat their knives with some oil. However, how does one maintain a knife collection and what common equipment do you need?
Things to have in the “Knife Care kit”:
- Soft Cotton Cloths (An old T-shirt or cotton cloth to wipe away fingerprints)
- A good rust inhibitor (Plain 100% Mineral oil or Renaissance Wax to coat blade)
- Rubbing Alcohol (To remove dirt and light tarnishing from knives before coating with oil/ wax)
- Metal Polish (e.g. Flitz, Autosol – To remove fine scratches, slight tarnishing and rust)
- Rust remover (To remove built-up rust on knives that have been neglected)
- Different grade sandpaper (Sand off the rust and remove pitting on rusted knives)
- #0000 Steel Wool (Smoothen pitting, remove fine scratches and give knives a satin finish)
- Cotton wool and Q tips (Wipe and clean knives)
- Moisture absorbers (e.g. silica gel)
- Mineral Oil (To soak stag/bone handles to “re-hydrate” them)
- Magnifying glass (To inspect knives closely)
- Face dust Mask (When using knife cleaning solutions or sanding)
- Gloves (Cotton ones when handling knives to prevent fingerprints, rubber ones when using cleaning solutions)
Using Your Knives
- Watch what you cut. Cutting certain acidic food like fruits (eg. lemon, oranges) and mustard can stain knives and leave patina on it. It will remove bluing and wear down finishes.
- Use your knife, don’t abuse it. A knife is meant to cut what is softer than itself. Never use your knife to chop metal chains or saw through metal sheets. There will be chips along the edge if you do so. These can injure you when they chip off.
- Don’t pry with your knives. Knives are for chopping, slicing and cutting. If you pry with your knives you risk breaking off the tip of the knife, which is usually thin. Use a pry tool (e.g. Atwood) instead.
- Clean your knives. After cleaning game, a camping/boat trip or even after every use, rinse your knife in warm water and a little detergent to get rid of the grime. Wipe dry and oil when done.
- Store your knives well. Always store your knife in a dry place away from sunlight, humidity and children.