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Best way to store knives long term?

Joined
Feb 4, 2015
Messages
122
I'm making a knife for each of my Grand kids - I'm planning to hang on to the best ones that I make for them until they are old enough to actually own them - years away. Right now I am working with carbon steel and natural wood, and making leather sheaths for them. I know that if I store them in the sheaths they will probably rust - so what do you do that is simple, but preserves all of the parts - metal, wood, and leather? Realistically it's at least possible that I won't still be here to gift some of them, so I would like for it to be easy for anyone to conserve by just putting a box on a shelf until the time arrives.
 
Carbon steel wouldn't be my first choice of steel to use when you're trying to preserve and store a blade for use years away.
 
~ Don't store them in sheaths.

~ Clean, dry, oil

~ Coat the knives in wax like Renaissance Wax, Briwax, Paraffin

~ Use a vacuum sealer

Don't know about the leather though. But I have a 30yo leather KaBar sheath that I have done nothing to and it's still in pretty good shape. At one point, it sat in a box for a couple years, with the knife inside, with no discernable harm to either.
 
I have read that wax is the best protection, but you will have to reapply it occasionally. And if you use natural wood it can dry out too so wax it.
 
Renaissance Wax can be used on the steel and leather. I'd suggest storing them in containers that get air circulation and place some sort of moisture absorber.
 
I agree don't store the knives in the leather sheaths!
You can try putting Lexol or other leather conditioner on the sheaths and storing them separately in vacuum sealed bags.

Check out Zcorr bags for the knives. I've stored weapons in the collectors series bags for 5+ years with no rust.

Good luck!
 
Great question to start this thread, David!!!

I too am assembling a small (by knife knuts standards) collection of handmade fixed blades and semi-production folders for my Grandsons.

I am also a .22LR target shooter with some very nice rifles, none of which get shot/cleaned often enough to meet my compulsive standards for foolproof storage. I'll skip all the reading, testing and re-reading I have done into a wide variety of lubricants, anti-corrosive/anti-rust agents and preservatives for steels and woods. Here is where I finally ended up.

All blades and steel parts (stainless or not) get a thorough cleaning with gun-type "cleaner/degreaser," an immediate wipedown with alcohol and an immediate (thorough but thin) coating of Mil Comm grease. (I used to use Mil Comm oil for that last coat, but found that it tended to flow with gravity when stored - the grease stays put.) The wooden and manmade portions of handles get a scrubbing of water with a bit of dish liquid, then two thorough coats of Renaissance wax. Finally, I'm still deciding upon the storage containers. Currently, all are stored bare - used to wrap loosely in microfiber cloths but found that the cloth absorbed the grease - in plastic tubes with caps at each end, but some airholes are present. I'll probably switch to Zcorr bags. All stored knives are stored in-house and examined twice per year with a 45x lighted magnifier.

By the way, my close second choice for final metal coatings is Eezox, a product which I use extensively with my firearms. It has the advantage of drying to a non-oily finish on metals. However, that advantage means that I can't detect its presence or absence across the entire surface. As for Renaissance wax, there is a video of testing on steel which leaves me wanting.

I cannot and will not claim that this technique works. Long term results will tell. By carefully watching and reading all of the corrosion/rusting/degradation tests (which are readily available on the net/web), I feel that I have minimized the atmospheric risks as far as is currently possible.
 
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Great question to start this thread, David!!!

I too am assembling a small (by knife knuts standards) collection of handmade fixed blades and semi-production folders for my Grandsons.

I am also a .22LR target shooter with some very nice rifles, none of which get shot/cleaned often enough to meet my compulsive standards for foolproof storage. I'll skip all the reading, testing and re-reading I have done into a wide variety of lubricants, anti-corrosive/anti-rust agents and preservatives for steels and woods. Here is where I finally ended up.

All blades and steel parts (stainless or not) get a thorough cleaning with gun-type "cleaner/degreaser," an immediate wipedown with alcohol and an immediate (thorough but thin) coating of Mil Comm grease. (I used to use Mil Comm oil for that last coat, but found that it tended to flow with gravity when stored - the grease stays put.) The wooden and manmade portions of handles get a scrubbing of water with a bit of dish liquid, then two thorough coats of Renaissance wax. Finally, I'm still deciding upon the storage containers. Currently, all are stored bare - used to wrap loosely in microfiber cloths but found that the cloth absorbed the grease - in plastic tubes with caps at each end, but some airholes are present. I'll probably switch to Zcorr bags. All stored knives are stored in-house and examined twice per year with a 45x lighted magnifier.

By the way, my close second choice for final metal coatings is Eezox, a product which I use extensively with my firearms. It has the advantage of drying to a non-oily finish on metals. However, that advantage means that I can't detect its presence or absence across the entire surface. As for Renaissance wax, there is a video of testing on steel which leaves me wanting.

I cannot and will not claim that this technique works. Long term results will tell. By carefully watching and reading all of the corrosion/rusting/degradation tests (which are readily available on the net/web), I feel that I have minimized the atmospheric risks as far as is currently possible.

I too have seen the "Ren. Wax test" on youtube....

A few things to point out:

It was applied incorrectly.
It was tested on EMT, which is electrical conduit that I work with often.
If you as much as sneeze on EMT it rusts immediately...perhaps that is why it costs around $15/100ft in 1/2 inch (The size I believe the "tester" used....

Factoring in all of that, I felt it performed incredibly well, but regardless, I have been using Ren. Wax for many years with Zero issues.

I have tried a few different storage methods, but what works best for me are Bill's Custom Cases.
They are made of Dupont Cordura, are breathable, but the fabric inside (not sure what it is) protects my knives from moisture of any type.

It's the closest thing I have found to keeping my knives out in the open in a controlled climate (which I ultimately believe is best for breathability, and thus no moisture) while still keeping them in something that protects from dust/abrasion and keeps them out of the hands of my young kids...
 
I use a light oil for occasional protective coat, NuFinish car polish for long-term storage ( I leave a thin application on the blade and don't buff it off, although you could and stll protect the steel, just like on a car).

For many years I just applied a thin coat of Flitz on my fixed blades and left it on until I wanted to use the knife--sometimes for years.

I don't store a knife in a sheath long term when I can help it. Those I have haven't really had a rust problem though.

But I do not live in a salt or quick rusting climate. I have very few problems with rust.
 
For over a decade I've read people cautioning against storing knives in sheaths. I've been making leather sheaths for 8 years. I store several knives in their leather sheaths 24x7x365 and have not suffered any ill effects.

I think that guidance may have value if you're storing a wet knife in a sheath, or a dry knife in a wet sheath. Then you'd be asking for trouble.

I'm also a believer in Ren. Wax for long term storage. Just today I was working through my collection and came across some fixed blades (stored in cardboard sleeves in drawers with silica packs) with some rust on their spines. I don't know the source however it was early enough so that I got it with some Scotch Brite, Flitz, and some wax to finish up.
 
I think a large part of the advice on long term storage and leather is due to the older tanning methods. I wonder if veg tanned leather acts differently than chrome or acid tanned leather of way-back. I would think it would be easy to make some knife storeage tubes from glued PVC Pipe, but I don't know about how the solvents might react... might be a bad idea. Ren wax properly applied, and properly treated wood should be fine. In fact I'd worry more about over-drying the wood and having it crack than anything else under normal conditions. Worst case, you could find some storeage grease to pack them in. messy to clean up, but it would preserve them! I'm sure there are some archivist or curators that would have some good info for long term storage.
 
I have read that wax is the best protection, but you will have to reapply it occasionally. And if you use natural wood it can dry out too so wax it.
Can the wax be used on the leather and stag handles of a knife?
 
Can the wax be used on the leather and stag handles of a knife?
To try to directly answer your question- I've used Renaissance wax and it can probably be used on wood and stag. I think it could be used on stacked leather if the stacked leather was originally coated. I don't think it would be good on leather.
However, my response is from 7 years ago, I've learned since then that the wax didn't work well enough for me. I've seen a few informal tests of protectants over the years and I've found a few on youtube too. I took the various products that I had in my garage and did my own test in which Renaissance wax didn't work very well. I also had the silicon based product that A.G.Russell sells and it didn't work very well either. The best product I had in my garage was Birchwood Casey Sheath, their current similar product is called Birchwood Casey Barricade. If you don't have a very hostile environment then lots of products will work, but if you want the best protection you can get then I would encourage you to do more research into tests people have documented on the internet.
 
To try to directly answer your question- I've used Renaissance wax and it can probably be used on wood and stag. I think it could be used on stacked leather if the stacked leather was originally coated. I don't think it would be good on leather.
However, my response is from 7 years ago, I've learned since then that the wax didn't work well enough for me. I've seen a few informal tests of protectants over the years and I've found a few on youtube too. I took the various products that I had in my garage and did my own test in which Renaissance wax didn't work very well. I also had the silicon based product that A.G.Russell sells and it didn't work very well either. The best product I had in my garage was Birchwood Casey Sheath, their current similar product is called Birchwood Casey Barricade. If you don't have a very hostile environment then lots of products will work, but if you want the best protection you can get then I would encourage you to do more research into tests people have documented on the internet.
Thanks for the information. I had never heard of this. It has 5 stars on Amazon with almost 2k reviews so it must be good. Do you prefer the aerosol can or the wipes?
 
Thanks for the information. I had never heard of this. It has 5 stars on Amazon with almost 2k reviews so it must be good. Do you prefer the aerosol can or the wipes?
I use the spray can because I use it for other tools besides knives. For knives only I think the wipes would be more convenient.
 
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