Sword maintenance
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Sword maintenance

Sword maintenance

1. The wiping process requires two pieces of paper. The initial one removes the old oil and dust, which is called preliminary cleaning. First place the cleaning paper on the mune (back) and fold it into halves toward the ha (edge). Then, hold the paper covered blade from above the back so that the thumb and the forefinger grip each side of the cutting section from above the paper. Hardly any force is needed to wipe the blade upward, one way, starting from the base. When the cleaning paper reaches the point, be particularly careful in wiping lightly. No pressure or friction must be put on the point. When expertise is attained, the wiping action can also be both ways, up and down. Lack of experience could cause the cutting of paper or even fingers and thus it must be strictly avoided.

2. In case the oil cannot be removed with ease, cotton or gauze soaked in benzene (finger nail polish remover) or pure alcohol (like Everclear) may be used in the same wiping manner as described above.

3. The powdering starts from the base toward the tip on the obverse in a light, uniform patting motion to cover the blade surface. Then turn the blade over and start patting from the point downward toward the base.

4. Then, use the other sheet of paper to wipe the powder off the blade surface in the same manner as described in (5) in this section. If oil remains, some more powdering and wiping is necessary.

5. When the surface is thoroughly clean, check for the presence of rust, flaws and other damages. Then without putting back the tsuka, habaki and other attachments, the blade alone must be placed back in the saya. It should be noted that the two kinds of wiping paper used in this process must not be interchanged and should have distinct purposes preliminary and final.

6. The re-oiling with a piece of paper, or destarched flannel, folded in size 3cm x 6cm and soaked in fresh oil completes a round of sword care. When the paper is ready, the sword is to be drawn out of the saya again. After placing it in the left hand, put the oiling paper on the mune (back) to do the same movement as described in the wiping process. To make sure the blade surface is thoroughly covered with oil, repeat the same procedure a few times. Just as in the wiping, the handling of the sword as well as the oiling paper must be most carefully done. The paper should contain the right amount of oil so that no excess oil will over flow and harm the inside of the saya. The oil must be spread thinly and evenly.

7. It is a good idea to apply a very small amount of oil to the surface of the nakago (tang) with the fingers and then wipe it off. This might be done once a year. However an excessive amount of oil must also be avoided here. The black iron oxide (rust) needs to stay black. It is used to determine the age of the blade.
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