Oils and polishing/ using a bench grinder
by Pyra Gorgon
(St. Louis MO USA)
Hiya Paul @ SBG;
First, thank you for this site. It was due to your excellent information no B.S. style that helped me find the right sword. I bought a Mainz pattern Gladius (Legacy Arms Generation 2) from Kult of Athena and was happy.
However, after seeing all the "destructive testing" you guys do, I figured I'd test mine out, too. I mean, if my life depends on the sword not failing to do its job, then I should trust it do what any other edged tool would do.
After using my gladius as a machete and practicing swings against wooden pallets, it became scratched up and the edge had shiny spots on it.
I did not have fancy sword oil, but I found that olive, coconut, well, pretty much any neutral oil from the kitchen will work too. This gladius has never rusted.
The scabbard that comes with the Gen 2 mainz sword is horrible. Yeah, it holds the sword fine and it does not rattle about, but there is no way to carry it not "in hand". So I had to make this corseted leather thing to attach to the scabbard allowing it to connect to a belt or shoulder strap. I think maybe Legacy Arms ought to look into how stupid their current gladius scabbard design is. Who is just going to walk around everywhere holding this thing, right? The leather is also unfinished and will get nasty if not protected. I used Bag-Kote by Fiebings and now it is waterproof. This would be good to use on any leather, like stacked grip leather on knives, belts, scabbards, frogs, whatever.
I sharpen this gladius on a bench grinder. I found files just skip about on the metal and sandpaper is a total time sucker. I think it has something to do with it being "5160" steel. Abrasive felt wheels do okay but they take awhile and you get this flame-shaped profile which is meaty on the edge and not so sharp but cuts hard things good, like wood or soft metals. I believe that if you can stand to touch the part you are using an abrasive felt wheel on without burning yourself, then you are never going to get near ruining the temper of the metal.
What I like most about this sword is that it acts like a tool. Seriously, this Gen 2 gladius is "tool tough". I would just recommend to all the craftspeople out here reading to treat your sword as you would any quality sharp-edged cutting tool would be treated. Common sense stuff, you wouldn't sharpen a Gransfor Bruks like a santoku, why do that to a sword? Simple knowledge. You use vegetable oil to keep your sushi knives rust free, you use old motor oil to keep shovels from rusting, what kind of oil do you use on a sword? Whatever keeps it from rusting and what you have on hand, provided its...oily.
Polishing 5160 is best done on a finer abrasive felt wheel. This stuff is just too tough for grit papers. Finish polishing with a leather wheel and compounds and lots of time and you will get a mirror finish, better than factory, honestly.