I thought I would start a thread on the cleaning and preservation of a sword. This tutorial is meant to include any edged weapon and not just swords. While this is the way I clean swords it is not intended to outline the only way to clean, preserve, or restore edged weapons. My purpose is to show the manner in which I approach these subjects so that readers might learn from my efforts and mistakes.
This sword is an Italian Fascist Colonial Police (PAI) Warrant Officer sword from the WWII time period. Notice the age patina and black spotting over the brass castings on the hilt and scabbard fittings. Also notice that there is old white powder residue from ages old polishing. There is no damage that needs restoration and nothing is missing that needs to be replaced. While there is no damage to repair the sword was in need of conservation and stabilization. Besides that, there was no gilt to worry about as the original finish was polished brass and the existing patina was unattractive. The black spotting was simply ugly and would never have been allowed to remain during the sword's time of use. I will also point out that the black spotting had already caused pitting in the smooth brass and it was quite difficult to remove.
Before I do anything, I first evaluate the condition of the sword and and decide how I want it to look when I am done. I decided that I wanted this sword to retain none of the rather ugly age patina and spotting and that I did want to polish it because it was never gilt and does not contain more than 50% of its original finish under the dirt and grunge. So, with that in mind, I decided to slowly clean the hilt to determine if any original finish remained and to remove the old cleaner/polish residue and dirt.
I cleaned the hilt outside with ammonia and a soft tooth brush. Only use ammonia outside and use a mask or you will have a sinus headache that you will remember for some time and your wife will continue to remind you to go outdoors for years. Did I mention that this stuff is also poisonous to humans? I start in an inconspicuous place, in this case the inside of the smooth D shaped guard, to test how it will look when clean. This way if I overclean the inside I can lighten up on the other areas. I clean a small area at a time before I move on to something else. I cleaned the inside of the guard then stopped. I then cleaned the outside of the guard and then stopped. I then moved on the backstrap, then the pommel, etc. I saved the grip for last because it was a different substance (painted wood) than the brass. This process usually takes days. I found that I have the best results if I stop between areas such as the hilt and the scabbard so I can examine the process and determine if I want to clean further or stop. These self enforced stopping points are necessary for me or I tend to get carried away and overclean.
After cleaning this sword I then polished the brass in the same order I had cleaned it. Polishing the brass will leave it bright and shiny but this "brassyness" will tone down over time. It has been a year or so since I cleaned and polished this sword and it is now very attractive with toned down, and spot free, polished brass fittings.
Below are some "before cleaning" pictures.
Edited by SARGE, 26 October 2018 - 07:49 AM.