Building a Maintenance Kit

Every student of the historical sword arts, regardless of tradition, needs to have a maintenance kit in their bag of goodies. While this is mostly applicable to those of us who use steel swords, even the newer synthetics need maintenance from time to time. I’m going to go through what I have in my kit, as an example. Add or remove what you find applicable to your needs.

First, you’ll need something to keep everything organized and safe. This can be a bag, tackle box, etc. It just needs to be large enough to hold all the various items and sturdy enough to be banged around in your gear bag and not rip or be punctured by the items within. I use a medium sized canvas bankers bag that I received free when I bought a pipe tobacco pouch off an Etsy vendor.

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So what do we want to put into our new bag (or box) of goodies? Here’s a list of what I keep in mine, plus a few extras you may want to consider:

  • A steel flat file for removing burrs
  • A course and medium foam sanding block, helpful for removing rust spots
  • Leather awl, needles, and thread. Since my gauntlets are made entirely of leather, I often need to make on-the-fly repairs.Using these items, I’ve been able to rebuild them even during a tournament
  • A small rag
  • Wrenches, pliers, torx drivers, etc. A necessity if you have a weapon with a nut holding the pommel on.
  • A tack hammer, for when the only remedy is to hit something
  • Metal protectant/lubricant. My current favorite is Fluid Film, a lanolin-based anti-corrosive design for marine applications. If it can hold up to intense saline environments, it can handle your sweat. Also, no staining, bad oder, etc. and can be applied to multiple surface types. Great for armor storage too.
  • A razor knife, boxcutter, or X-acto knife. Especially handy if you prefer synthetics, since it can take the place/augment a file for removing burrs from a blade

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If you don’t have such a kit already, I highly suggest you start gathering up the necessary items. Most of these things are inexpensive and generally found around most households. If your gear has some kind of unusual feature to it, such as a torx or hex nut pommel attachment, you shouldn’t rely on fellow students to have the proper maintenance equipment. It’s no fun having to sit out a class or sparring session because something simple happened to your stuff and you don’t have the tools to deal with it on-site.