How To Care For Your Knife

When you buy a custom knife made with rare wood, custom metalwork, custom mosaic pins, etc. you want to keep the condition of the knife as perfect as possible. Custom knives aren’t your ordinary hunting knife that gets dragged through the mud, dropped on rocks, and left with animal “goo” on it after the hunt. They are more akin to “works of art” or display pieces for your mancave/hunting room.  As such you want to ensure that your new knife continues to look as great as the day you bought it. Following the instructions on this page will help you to do that.

Knife Care Instructions

  1. Do NOT place your knife in the dishwasher. To clean your knife, always hand wash, towel dry and store safely outside the sheath when it’s not in use.
  2. Do NOT store your knife in your sheath. For optimal preservation and longevity, store your knife outside of the leather sheath. The chemicals in the tanning process can attract moisture and cause rust.
  3. Preventing Rust: Do NOT oil your blade. To prevent rust use Renaissance wax on the blade. Oil attracts dirt, grit, etc. that can scratch a blade. I recommend Renaissance Wax to protect your knife. See below for more info on Renaissance Wax. Remember to coat your knife 2-3 times a year and keep it in a dry place. The wax will prevent rust. If you have nothing else and need to protect your knife for a short term duration, then oil will prevent rust. Remember to clean the oil off and use Renaissance wax ASAP.
  4. Because your knife is a piece of functional art, your handle may start to dry out after multiple uses. If this happens, use a small amount of Renaissance wax to get the shine back.
  5. For best results, avoid prolonged exposure to sun and salt air. While your knife is designed for use in the outdoors, it’s best not to leave it on the dock or the patio for days on end.
  6. Do NOT: Throw, chop, pry or dig with your knife. Get a pry bar, shovel, or axe instead.


Here are some more “Do’s and Don’ts”

  • Never throw knives, unless specifically designed for that use. I don’t make throwing knives.
  • Do not leave knives and sheaths in direct sun or high heat. Ultraviolet light oxidizes woods and bleaches the color out. Heat bakes the protective oils out of most hardwoods and weakens adhesive bonds. Prolonged exposure to the sun and heat can also destroy knife sheaths.
  • To clean, hand wash blades when necessary with non-abrasive gentle detergent, rinse well and dry.
  • Clean handles and sheaths with damp cloth and buff with soft dry cloth. A light coat of Renaissance Wax can bring back luster. Do not over-wax. A very small amount goes a long way.
  • Do not use any kind of oil on the sheaths; this will cause them to soften, weakening their protective function, softening glues, sealants, and dyes
  • Protect carbon steel and stainless steel knives with a light coating of hand-buffed wax, not oil. Oil attracts dust as well as weakens the sheath. Renaissance® wax is the best!
  • Chemical etching is used in the maker’s mark on my mirror finished blades and for cosmetic enhancement. If you live long enough to polish away the etching without the help of power equipment, you won’t have any fingertips left!
  • Wood handles usually benefit from a light coating of furniture wax or Renaissance® wax and a good hand rubbing.
  • Brass and Nickel Silver fittings can be hand-polished with Simichrome® and lightly waxed for protection. It is normal for some scuffing to show on the front bolster or guard, this is where the sheath holds the knife. Polish brass often, coat with wax.
  • For very long term storage, store your knife with the sheath, not in it! The chemicals used in tanning of leather sometimes react with moisture in the air, leading to corroding of even stainless steels! Condensation even within military grade kydex sheaths can invite corrosion. If you can’t keep the knife in the open, dry air, store with photographic quality desiccant in a plastic bag apart from sheath.


What the heck is “Renaissance Wax”?

You’ve probably never heard of it and are thinking “Bah, oil is just fine, My grandpappy always said……”. I’ve explained the issues with oil throughout this page so i won’t go into that anymore. As for Renaissance wax, it is used by museums, antique collectors, and re-enactors of time period events to preserve knives, blades, swords, armor, etc. It was specifically designed for this purpose, lasts longer, and protects better than oil. Here is a Wikipedia article on it. You’ve just purchased a quality custom knife, wouldn’t you want to do everything you can to preserve that “Brand New Look” ?

You can find it on Amazon – Renaissance Wax


What about scratches on the blades and fittings?

In use, it’s normal to encounter small scratches, scuffing, and marks on the surface of a polished blade, as well as media blasted or flat finished blades and fittings. Just inserting the knife into the sheath repeatedly will cause scuffing or burnishing of the surface, and this can be seen, particularly on polished surfaces. The higher the polish, the more this wear pattern or scratches, in general, can be seen. The human eye can detect minute differences in a polish, and the pattern or scratch may seem much deeper than it actually is, but it’s noticeable.

The number one complaint

My number one complaint is that the client has stored his knife in the sheath, or forgotten that he’s left it in the sheath (sometimes for months or years) and that there are little spots of rust starting to form. I can’t say this enough: don’t store knives in sheaths! Incidentally, what do you think would happen if you stored a blued firearm in its leather holster for years, and never looked at it? Sure, you want to keep it with the sheath, and carry it in the sheath, but long term storage in the knife sheath is probably the most destructive thing you can do to your fine custom knife.

Please remember that stainless tool steels can corrode. These are not low carbon steels used in mass-produced and mass-manufactured kitchen knives, and they are not completely rust-free austenitic steels used in flatware; these are fine, high carbon, high alloy martensitic stainless tool steels, and as such, are more resistant to corrosion than non-stainless, but can still corrode because of the high carbon content. I have posted this on my care sheet that I give out with every knife.

It makes no difference whether the sheath is leather or kydex and aluminum, whether the air is as humid as Florida or as dry as Nevada. The knife blade needs to breathe (have access to dry air) and stay dry. When humidity and temperature changes in the normal course of the day or seasons, condensation can form on any steel and in any sheath. If the steel is allowed access to free air, it can stay relatively dry, and corrosion can not gain a foothold. But if the knife is stored in the sheath, and even atmospheric moisture is allowed to stay against the blade, the blade will start to rust.

On a polished blade, this can be ruinous, and if the knife has been custom etched, the only recourse is to grind off all the etching and corrosion, regrind and refinish the blade (including polish) and re-etch, which is very expensive and time consuming and may not even be possible. Even if the knife is coated heavily with wax, long-term storage in the sheath will encourage corrosion. Please don’t do it!

Thanks to Jay Fisher for these tips!