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At the outbreak of the American Civil War, there were two types of sabers issued to the Federal Cavalry: "light" and "heavy". The light version was popular, but the heavy model, dubbed the "Old Wrist Breaker" was the one worth owning, as it was a superior weapon. Its 32" blade offered big reach advantages over most sabers, and its substantial weight gave it the leverage to easily crush bones and sever limbs or even a head with a single blow. The brass guard had three bars to protect the hand and the grip was wire bound leather and capped with a sturdy pommel. In its double ringed, steel scabbard, it could be easily attached to a saddle or to a belt.
Cleaning Carbon Steel Swords
This is good for modern custom swords made from simple low and high-alloy carbon steels to stainless variations.
Blade maintenance is very important to preserve the finish of any steel blade. Blade maintenance should be performed at least every three to four months and any time the blade is touched, because the oils of your skin can cause rapid corrosion to any steel.
It is important when visually inspecting your piece to note any areas of discoloration and act immediately. First pick up any of the mildly abrasive polishing pastes like Isosso, Brasso or Flitz as these work well on mild, surface rust. They are available conveniently at most hardware stores and gun stores.
First wipe the blade down with a clean soft cloth. Then in sections (for control) apply your cleaning solution paying particular attention to any surface rust areas as these will need a bit more elbow grease to clean. A few drops or sprays will do, spread it thin with a lint free clean towel, let sit for a few seconds and remove with the same clean towel. After cleaning, all you need is an extremely thin layer of protection that serves as a micro-thin protective layer between the steel and the elements. Be careful not to get liquid under any cracks or openings at the hilt where it can potentially trap moisture.
Light pitting can be removed with a grinding belt, but should only be attempted by someone highly experienced in this process. We do not recommend you try this at home. Deep pitting must be left alone as it has gone beyond these cleaning methods and removing the pits can actually weaken the blade further, because too much of the material needs to be removed to get down to that level. If you have deep rust or pitting, there is very little you can do, but enjoy the “antique” finish!
An alternative to a belt and less severe is a metal rust eraser, which can be scrubbed over a more heavily rusted area for removal. Keep in mind however that although this may take away the rust it will also mar the finish of the blade in that section for a very uneven finish.
Avoid vegetable oils including olive oil, as they can go rancid and attract dust. Also avoid WD-40 as a protector; it is a great cleaner though. The reason being is distillates will evaporate and leave the blade unprotected over time. Also when using it, be sparse; excess amounts can run into cracks or openings at the hilt trapping moisture.
It is advisable to avoid Tuff Cloth, waxes, silicone-based gel, Vaseline, petroleum jelly, Cosmoline, etc. Some of these contain chemicals that attack blade steel. If not, avoid them for the reason that they are more work to remove and can trap moisture. Also once you coat a blade with the aforementioned and sheath the sword, the scabbard interior will be very hard to clean.
Now your blade is ready for display or storage.