Storing & Displaying your knives
So when you have a collection of more than 5 knives you would think of displaying them or at least keeping them together in an area. Here are a few storage solutions:
Glass/wood display cabinet
Acrylic display case
Safes/Safety Deposit Boxes
Some would argue for a purely acrylic/glass or knife sacks to store their knives. This is because over long periods of time, woods emit acidic vapors which would be a catalyst for rust and corrosion to the knife blade. The primary culprit would be Oak, which more acidic vapors compared to other woods, so never store your knives in an oak display cabinet. Since acrylic and glass displays are relatively stable and do not corrode nor break down, they are the primary choice for storing and displaying knives. Not to mention they are transparent and allow an clear unobstructed view of your collection. They are can also be lit up with mini-spotlights and be a talking point in the house. Just keep them out of the sun.
Another good option would be to keep them in a gun safe or even safety deposit boxes. Some safes are humidity controlled and would be ideal for keeping the knives dry, not to mention the added security of a (almost bombproof & fireproof) lock.
Prepping the blade - Oil vs "Dry" protection
Essentially, any good oil would be good to coat a knife to prevent rusting. It is important to create a barrier between the blade's metal surface and the humid air. Such oils include Mineral, Choji and Camellia oil. Choji Oil has been used by the Japanese Samurais to coat their blades for centuries. This speaks volumes on the reliability of oil as a protection for knives. However, some caution not to use "natural" oils such as olive, corn, cooking oil as these can turn rancid over time.
One drawback on using oil is that oil can "bead" on the surface of the knife, similar to how water beads on a waxy surface. Not to mention that the oil is a dust magnet and it would not be nice to touch the knife after application of oil. Oil also dries up after time and requires a visibly thick layer to completely cover the knife blade.
As a result, some collectors prefer to use modern rust inhibitors instead of oil. Some examples include Eezox, Renaissance Wax and Tuf-Glide, all of which contain a special formula that covers the knife's surface with a micro-crystalline wax layer that protects the blade from the elements. Another benefit is that once applied and dried it is not sticky and leaves no noticeable residue or smell and is an excellent barrier against moisture. This allows non-knife enthusiasts to touch the knife (and blade) - just wipe off the fingerprints. This method allows the knife to be viewed as if there was nothing applied, but in fact there is a layer of thin wax protecting the steel.
The "Best" knife rust prevention solution?
In accelerated saltwater tests, it has been tested that Eezox trumped the other notable rust-protection products by a fair bit, looking almost rust free after 3 days! Even products like 3-in-1 oil, Mil-Tec, Mineral oil, Renaissance Wax and others did not turn out to be as rust resistant as we would have hoped. However it is noted that Eezox does contain harmful chemicals that are known to cause cancer.
The best bet, according to the most hard-core knife and sword collectors, is still Renaissance Wax, which is chemically stable, non-acidic and is almost natural (the common apple in supermarkets are coated with wax). It is used for protecting displays in many museums around the world. That being said, don't use Ren Wax on knives that you use for cutting food!
When choosing what to coat your knives with, do not be taken in by all the marketing hype, eg. "It is being supplied to the troops in Iraq and used by them", "US Navy SEALs swear by this", "Endorsed by xyz", "We have sold 10,000 bottles", etc. Do your research, read user forums/opinions and decide what is best for you and your budget. Beware of the sales hype, fishy and bullshit user opinions that may have been created by the Product Manufacturers themselves. It is best to do a thorough research and decide on the right product rather than trying them one by one (tempting because most are affordable) only to find out that you wasted a whole load of your dough on trying inferior products.
- Outdoor/Bushcraft/Camping Knives ----> Eezox, Tuf Glide/Marine Tuf Cloth
- Food Knives/Kitchen Knives ----> Mineral Oil
- Collectible/Valuable/Antique Knives ----> Renaissance Wax
Rules to keep your collection pristine
- Wipe down/Oil your blades. Oil prevents moisture from reaching the blade surface. Wipe down generously and apply 2 layers before keeping. Make sure the blade is dry before wiping down or you'll trap the moisture under the oil. Do not use Beeswax or Carnauba Wax as they are acidic!
- Be careful when touching them! Non-knife nuts LOVE to run their fingers along the sharpened edge and touch the blade. Doing so may leave a fingerprint mark that may etch itself into the blade forever (because our skin secretes oil). Wipe prints away after handling. If you must touch them wear gloves if possible.
- Never store your knives in their leather sheaths! Since leather absorbs moisture over time, if you store your knives in their sheaths the leather will transfer the moisture to the blade's surface and speed up the rusting process.
- Keep humidity, sunlight and heat at bay. Fluctuations in the humidity, light and heat level will cause stress on certain parts of the knife, like leather, wood and natural materials. They may crack, fade or become brittle after long exposure. Store your collection in a stable environment that is dry (eg. humidifier, safe or drawer). The sun's UV rays break down anything they touch, so keep your knives out of the sun too.
- Check your knives often. Regular inspections help spot tarnishing early and prevents rust from getting too thick. If you spot a rust spot it may be possible to remove it and make the surface look fairly unblemished.
- Remove rust when spotted. When you remove rust early you deny the rust an opportunity to "eat" into the metal and cause pitting, which would require heavy sanding or polishing to even. Do not remove rust from antique or knives that have historical value - you run a high chance of ruining it.
- Reapply protective layers. Since all knife protective layers either dry up or get used up over time, remember to wipe down your knives regularly (depending on your climate) to ensure that there is a good thick layer of protection from the elements.