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Old 16th October 2017, 07:15 PM   #1
Uncle Bertie
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Default Cleaning and loosening advice please?

Hi

This is my first post in this incredibly informative and helpful site. I've learned a huge amount about the collection of African and Asian daggers and swords I recently acquired. Now though, I need some specific advice please.

How do I clean this so the writing can be read?

This small Asian? knife has text on the sheath and the handle, but also has a lot of gunk making it difficult to read. I have a ultrasonic cleaner, but I'm not sure if using that would be appropriate.

How do I loosen this blade from the scabbard?

I'm not sure, but it's probably rusted in. In the UK we have something called WD40 which I'd use to loosen rusted nut, but I don't know if that is sensible. I'm told the sword is Tuareg and to complicate matters, I'm sure WD40 wouldn't be good for the leather.

Thanks for your help.
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Old 17th October 2017, 05:09 PM   #2
mariusgmioc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Uncle Bertie
Hi

This is my first post in this incredibly informative and helpful site. I've learned a huge amount about the collection of African and Asian daggers and swords I recently acquired. Now though, I need some specific advice please.

How do I clean this so the writing can be read?

This small Asian? knife has text on the sheath and the handle, but also has a lot of gunk making it difficult to read. I have a ultrasonic cleaner, but I'm not sure if using that would be appropriate.

How do I loosen this blade from the scabbard?

I'm not sure, but it's probably rusted in. In the UK we have something called WD40 which I'd use to loosen rusted nut, but I don't know if that is sensible. I'm told the sword is Tuareg and to complicate matters, I'm sure WD40 wouldn't be good for the leather.

Thanks for your help.


The first one is a Japanese Tanto. Have no idea about the second one.

For cleaning, in the first stage, I would use WD40, White Spirit and a hard brush for removing the gunk.

Good luck!
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Old 17th October 2017, 05:18 PM   #3
Tim Simmons
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You could get a non medical syrigine and squirt veg oil in at the top of the scabbard. Standing the knife up over a week. Hopefully the oil will get to the bottom and with luck the blade could be drawn. The leather will dry and oil should not harm it.
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Old 17th October 2017, 05:27 PM   #4
M ELEY
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I believe the first item is a Chinese copy of a tanto. That doesn't mean it is a fake. During the early 20th century, the Chinese military closely copied Japanese swords, daggers, dirks, etc. You can usually tell the Chinese versions as the details aren't as refined, the fittings are more primitive, etc. Thus, they are original weapons of the period done in a Japanese-styling. The marking on the outside of the scabbard/tsuka appear to have writing on it. That will tell us more.
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Old 17th October 2017, 06:20 PM   #5
Uncle Bertie
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Thanks both, how would you suggest I safely clean the Tanto?
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Old 17th October 2017, 06:21 PM   #6
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Sorry, I missed the first reply. I'll try those things.
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Old 18th October 2017, 02:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc
The first one is a Japanese Tanto. Have no idea about the second one.

For cleaning, in the first stage, I would use WD40, White Spirit and a hard brush for removing the gunk.

Good luck!


Thanks, i now have a follow up question - I can see areas on the tanto where the bare metal is showing - is this what I need to get back to, or could there be paint or another layer of plating under the greeny gunk?
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Old 18th October 2017, 08:35 PM   #8
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I would do exactly what Tim suggested with one exception: WD40 instead of oil.

I think it has a better chance of breaking the rust.

But again, if you think that oil alone might be more benign, use it first, and switch to WD40 only if it fails.

This dagger waited to be released for many years, and can easily wait another month or two.

Good luck. Will be interesting to see the blade.
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Old 23rd October 2017, 12:48 PM   #9
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Here are some post cleaning photos of the writing on the tanto. I hope someone can translate for me.
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Old 24th October 2017, 01:45 AM   #10
Helleri
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Do not oil or WD40 old leather. IF you WD40 the leather you will never get rid of the odor and any thing like mineral spirits or vegetable oil can crack old leather as it dries back out, as can WD40 (turns it brittle).

What has likely happened is that there is a ferric-oxide-tannic-acid complex that has formed through corrosive action between the leather and the iron present in the blade. This creates a pretty darn close and firm surface adhesion of the two materials.

My recommendation (as a leather worker) would be to re-hydrate the old leather with a dilution of glycerol. This will bloat it slightly (breaking the bond) and make it a little more flexible. It will also extend the life of the leather. If it won't come loose after a few hours of soaking. it should still be softened enough to safely peel back.

So at that point you would want to find and carefully snip the stitching. Good to save the stitching material and take well focused close up pics before hand and as you go along. That way you can figure your way back to restitching it correctly.

But before putting it all back together I'd scrub the inside and use an animal glue to adhere naturally processed light canvas weight linen fabric to the inside. alternatively rubbing the inside with beeswax can lay down a more temporary protective barrier.

As for cleaning metal. Wood ash works wonders on brass, bronze, pewter, and silver. For iron, steel, and nickle use cream of tartar (both of these being made into a paste by mixing with water). Wool roving and natural sponge I've found make the best scrub pads.

It's also always a good idea to cleanse metal at the end before oiling. This is done with a 2:1 mixture of baking soda and powder non-iodized salt. The blade is wetted with water and coated in the powder. White vinegar is then drizzled lightly over it causing it to foam up. This will lift any deep grime from the surface and float it away. Immediately after you want to rub thoroughly with more un-mixed baking soda to neutralize any remaining acid. Then wipe clean with a soft cotton cloth and non bristled pipe cleaners (to get in those cracks. After which you can oil as normal.

Last edited by Helleri : 24th October 2017 at 01:57 AM.
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