Cleaning World War 2 Japanese swords

by James C. Lasenby
(Bolingbrook, illinois )

I have 2 World WarII authentic Japanese swords that have been coated and caked with heavy grease for over 50 years. This grease is also caked inside of the steel scabbard. Can you recommend a method to remove the grease on the sword and inside the scabbard, so I can try to bring them up to saleable grade. Is there a way to remove the rust from the outside of the scabbard?

Comments for Cleaning World War 2 Japanese swords

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What to do and what to avoid doing..
by: Paul

In most cases with any kind of antique sword, you want to avoid any DIY clean up - especially anything that would scratch the blade or the nagako (tang).

It usually isn't THAT much of a big deal for WWII Japanese swords as they were, for the most part, mass produced and in good condition, only sell for around $500 or so (actual price range depends on the condition and the rank of the officer it belongs to - but is between $300 to $1,500). But any method you decide to use should be as non intrusive as possible to avoid anything that will seriously devalue it to the point where it is not saleable.

As such, you want to go light on cleaning off any rust and gunk - so the best way to get the grease off the blade is to use something like WD-40 to start with and then perhaps 'CLR clean' (Calcium, Lime and Rust Remover) and for the scabbard, a gun cleaning rod to get down inside it and scrub it out.

You definitely want to avoid anything that scrubs or is abrasive to the blade or fittings (especially the tang, as there is always a very small chance that it was NOT a mass produced sword, but an heirloom mounted in military sword fittings. Rare - but if it is - anything that marss the blade will destroy its value).

Hope this helps.

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