A Collector's Q for the Makers...

May 8, 2002
Hey guys,
I've a question I don't remember being addressed... it's about properly caring for a blade...

I've seen several threads about how to treat a blade for either use or storage... What I want to know is how do you clean a blade prior to treating it for use or storage?

Basically, I'd like to know the simplest and cheapest way to clean my Damascus and carbon steel blades of all grease, oil, spittle... whatever... before I coat them with oil or wax...

I expect there are a few ways to do this, but I've tried soap and warm water - only I don't think that removes all the oils, especially any of the synthetics.. (yeah, I've used several types of oil over the years trying to figure out what works best for me)... I've also thought about using brake cleaner, but I was also curious as to how to remove any of that products' residue...

Thanks in advance everybody!
Cant answere for everyone, but for me, I just use Dawn dishwashing liquid and as hot a water from the sink as I can stand, wash it off real good with my hands, and the heat from the water warms everything up and helps when you wipe it dry. Then If its got natural materials I use some mineral oil on everything.
Thanks Will... it just seems that sometimes not all the stuff came off that way... I'd heard of using acetone, carb cleaner and brake cleaner... just wasn't sure what the pro's use...
A brief chemistry lesson:

Solvents (that which dissolves something) generally can be described as falling along a spectrum, "polar" to "non-polar". The rule in chemistry is "like dissolves like". Thus, polar solvents, of which water is the best example, dissolve water-based substances like Elmer's glue and strawberry jam. When they get a little oily, you add a "surfactant", which to us means soap or TSP. That will cut the butter in your frying pan from your fried egg.

A little more greasy gets us into polar "organic" solvents like acetone and alcohols. HEET, the gasoline additive, is methyl alcohol. Windex is a mix of water and methyl alcohol, and is relatively "polar". Acetone is great for stuff like tape residue on a blade.

Beyond that we get into relatively non-polar stuff like Starting Fluid, which is ether, and brake cleaner. Past that is "nonpolar stuff" like lighter fluid, gasoline, kerosene, etc. It will dissolve oils and greasy substances.

Except for soap in water, all should be free of any residues if they are reasonably pure. One has to be careful of what is on the wiping cloth. Stuff like paper towels have additives that can be dissolved out of the product by solvents less polar than water and leave a film on a blade. I like clean soft cloths that don't have any gack-nasty fabric softener on them.

Hope that gives a halfway understandable description of how to choose a solvent through the spectrum of water-soluble to greasy.

Like Will, I like a soapy water wash followed by hot water rinse. I then douse it with a little acetone to wash the water away and dry it completely.
Always believe Fitzo :)

I use brake cleaner at times while building a knife (removing tape, degreasing for epoxy etc.) So, I'm sure glad to get Fitzo's information on solvents and paper towels!


Cleaning? Just throw 'em out if they get dirty. Custom knife makers need the business.
Mike... thanks for the info...way more than I wanted LOL!!!! but a very good way of describing what happens with what...

So, I guess it's dish soap and hot water unless things are really bad...

Thanks guys! :cool:
Dawn in particular is especially good compared to other brands I've tried. I've heard that Dawn actually donates their soap to some of the teams that clean up oil spills because it works so well.