Is it okay to put a freshly oiled knife in a leather sheath?

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Hey folks. I’m curious how you maintain your carbon steel knives. Is it okay to put a newly oiled knife back in its leather sheath? Or should the knife be wiped dry before resheathing? Knowing the best practices that worked for you would be much appreciated.

Personally, I oil the carbon blades, let the oil sit for some time (about half an hour), then wipe dry before resheathing. I use Singer machine oil, but I’m looking at getting mineral oil.
 
I wouldn't sheath an oily blade. The oil will transfer to the leather, and if you get dirt in the sheath it can stick to the oily leather and you might never get it out. But if the inside of the sheath is dry, there's a better chance of knocking/tapping the dirt out.

I used/carried a Marine Kabar with a bare blade (no blade coating) for several years camping and working a landscaping job, and I never oiled it. I wiped it off if it got wet, and if it developed a little surface rust I just removed it with sand paper or steel wool.

Also, I wouldn't store a carbon blade in a leather sheath. Chemicals in the leather could cause the steel to rust or corrode.
 
Hey folks. I’m curious how you maintain your carbon steel knives. Is it okay to put a newly oiled knife back in its leather sheath? Or should the knife be wiped dry before resheathing? Knowing the best practices that worked for you would be much appreciated.

Personally, I oil the carbon blades, let the oil sit for some time (about half an hour), then wipe dry before resheathing. I use Singer machine oil, but I’m looking at getting mineral oil.

It's fine, leather likes oil every now and then usually. But, wiping "dry" is a good idea anyway and you're not likely to wipe all of it off unless you really scrub it. You only need a light coat of oil on the blade for it to work. The waiting period isn't necessary.

K killgar does have a good point though, as long you wipe the blade dry you're already doing a lot to keep it from rusting. I don't oil many of my carbon kitchen knives or carbon steel knives that I use in the kitchen, since using other hunting and bushcraft knives in the kitchen is fun, after using them. I wash, wipe dry, air dry, and then 95% of the time they're good to go. Sometimes I have to flip them over as the blade condensates or water collects on the bottom side but that takes care of them just fine. I like the patina that forms from leaving the oil off.

Look up the rust eraser, it's a really nifty tool for carbon steel blades and especially if you're trying to keep some of your working knives pretty looking. If you like the patina'ed look, wash the rust off with vinegar; it makes the rust spot a dark, pepper spot and that also helps prevent further rust. I've found patina to be a pretty good rust preventative.

I know baryonyx knife sells the rust eraser (along with a great set of sharpening stones) but it should be available numerous places. Basically a pencil eraser-like block with light abrasives in it that does a really nice job cleaning up small areas. It's a great size for cleaning up the blades on carbon steel slipjoints.

Lastly, try some CLP paste if you the best rust protectant (also fine in a leather sheath but use a light coat for sure, a little goes a really long ways). I use the seal1 that collectorknives carries (it's firearm CLP so it's probably available at numerous gun shops or websites) or the froglube CLP paste that a good friend recently recommended who uses a lot of carbon steel tools for maintenance in a very wet, paper mill environment. I usually only use this for long-term storage or if I know I'll be in a really wet environment for a long time. Standard mineral oil or 3-in-1 has worked fine for me for a long time.
 
I seem to remember that Adventure Sworn used to recommend putting on a very thin coat of Obenauf's Leather paste on their knives. A couple times a year, I go through my carbon knives (hunting) and work a drop of gun oil into the blade. Birchwood Casey makes a product called Barricade (old packaging said Sheath) that is really great for both blade steels and rifle barrels.
 
It's fine, leather likes oil every now and then usually. But, wiping "dry" is a good idea anyway and you're not likely to wipe all of it off unless you really scrub it. You only need a light coat of oil on the blade for it to work. The waiting period isn't necessary.

K killgar does have a good point though, as long you wipe the blade dry you're already doing a lot to keep it from rusting. I don't oil many of my carbon kitchen knives or carbon steel knives that I use in the kitchen, since using other hunting and bushcraft knives in the kitchen is fun, after using them. I wash, wipe dry, air dry, and then 95% of the time they're good to go. Sometimes I have to flip them over as the blade condensates or water collects on the bottom side but that takes care of them just fine. I like the patina that forms from leaving the oil off.

Look up the rust eraser, it's a really nifty tool for carbon steel blades and especially if you're trying to keep some of your working knives pretty looking. If you like the patina'ed look, wash the rust off with vinegar; it makes the rust spot a dark, pepper spot and that also helps prevent further rust. I've found patina to be a pretty good rust preventative.

I know baryonyx knife sells the rust eraser (along with a great set of sharpening stones) but it should be available numerous places. Basically a pencil eraser-like block with light abrasives in it that does a really nice job cleaning up small areas. It's a great size for cleaning up the blades on carbon steel slipjoints.

Lastly, try some CLP paste if you the best rust protectant (also fine in a leather sheath but use a light coat for sure, a little goes a really long ways). I use the seal1 that collectorknives carries (it's firearm CLP so it's probably available at numerous gun shops or websites) or the froglube CLP paste that a good friend recently recommended who uses a lot of carbon steel tools for maintenance in a very wet, paper mill environment. I usually only use this for long-term storage or if I know I'll be in a really wet environment for a long time. Standard mineral oil or 3-in-1 has worked fine for me for a long time.
Super helpful. Thanks for the input! I think there’s some froglube paste around the house somewhere. Pretty cool stuff.
 
For myself, I never store my fixed blades in their sheaths.
Leather won’t mind oil, but too much is a bad thing for leather. :)
 
I have a Damascus Bowie knife that was made in India I believe that I've been keeping in it's leather sheath for 10 years, and it doesn't have a spot of rust on it. But I oil it every few months or so and the sheath is one of those cheap kind that isn't a snug fit. I wouldn't keep a knife in a nice leather sheath or a sheath that fits snug though.
 
A lot of my old military knives you can tell they were put away oiled. It doesn’t seem to hurt them in the least. The sheaths are smoother inside than they should be and the knives sort of glide out with no drag whatsoever.

Saturating leather in motor oil is not really a good thing though.
 
I treat my leather sheathes with SnowSeal -- cut 'em apart, melt in 2-3 coats and re-stitch. They won't absorb moisture after that and that protects your high carbon steel blades... which I still wipe down with BreakFree CLP before putting them away. If you don't want to do that, I'd wipe the blade with Vaseline or something similar but would not store in the sheath. If you're using your knife daily, just dry it off before re-sheathing and don't worry about it.
 
My Randall Model 5 is almost 40 years old now. I've been keeping it in its leather sheath at all times since the day it arrived from Orlando. After use, I sharpen it, oil it, and put it back into its original leather sheath and put that back in the closet with all my camping/hunting gear. Never had a problem with it rusting. Never had a problem with the sheath deteriorating. Neither looks new.
To me, knives aren't Closet-Queens. They are working tools, and I treat them as such.


Stitchawl
 
I been doing it for decades with no adverse affects or effects to the knife or sheath.
The "oil" has ranged from food grade (olive, coconut, corn, vegi oils) to 3 in one sewing machine oil and used engine oil and transmission fluid.
 
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