A fixed blade is a solid, unfoldable, piece of metal that extends into a handle made of wood, metal, bone, or any other composite material. Nowadays, all the best fixed blade knives are made from different grades of steel. Those materials require regular care and maintenance to ensure the blade can withhold the wear and tear from the strain they are put under.
Outdoor fixed blade knives come in different forms like fixed blade tactical knife, survival knife, combat knife, bowie knife, hunting knife, self-defense knife, etc is popular among survivalists, hunters, outdoorsmen, and arm forces. Because of the versatile uses and different environments fixed blade knives are used in, they can be somewhat susceptible to damage, rust, and tear. Because of this and the spectrum of different materials put into making fixed blade knives, they need to be taken care of on a very regular basis.
The residue of dirt, dust, and moisture are the most common things that can have a negative impact on knives. The easiest resolutions to these impactful factors are constant care and maintain proper usage of the knife.
Types of Maintenance Required for a Fixed Blade Knife
There are several techniques for maintaining the fixed blade knife. An inspection should be done from time to time to evaluate any rust that would need attending to. Rust is not the only problem to keep an eye out for. To have a safe fixed blade knife, occasional sharpening of the edge should take priority.
Ensuring that your knife is rust free and as sharp as possible reduces the risk of injury to self. It increases maximum efficiency while dressing game, combat situations, and providing first aid. The collective knowledge of “a dull knife is a dangerous knife” extends to fixed blade knives as the uses require large amounts of force.
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If the edge is dull, there is a higher chance it will slip and slice yourself rather than what someone had intended. Rust on knives are commonly caused by pit corrosion and are harmless to individuals. If not taken care of, the rust can cause structural damage and unsightly appearances. After the sharpening and rust removal, one must store the knife in an appropriate place to prolong the integrity.
The First Step is Cleaning the Fixed Blade Knife
A knife should be cleaned after every use, or every couple of months when not in use. At the bare minimum, make sure to wipe off the blade of any visible residue after use if you are unable to clean it right away. When it comes to the process of cleaning your knife, it is always extremely important to exercise the utmost caution and safety while handling the fixed blade knife.
Another important factor to be aware of when cleaning your knife is the materials the knife is made from. There are many different metals a blade can be forged from, not all of which react the same with the same cleaning substances. Handles can be made of wood or other porous materials, making cleaning slightly more complicated.
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The first step should always be to clean off any visible usage debris. This may be things like tree sap, animal blood, or glue from tape. When doing so, you can use non-abrasive cleaners such as soap and water or rubbing alcohol. These need to be used with soft cleaning tools such as polishing cloths or cotton, as to not scratch or damage the metal or top coating of the blade.
If the handle is a porous material, take special care to not get it overtly wet, so as not to warp the shape or diminish the structural integrity of the material. It is very important that once you are done cleaning the knife, you fully dry all parts of it. It is recommended to allow the knife to sit out of its sheath or case overnight to fully dry.
The Second Step is Removing the Rust From the Blade
Before sharpening the fixed blade knife, it must be free from rust. Rust forms when iron or steel is exposed to water and air, which then forms iron oxide. There is a simple and easy way to clean a mild case of pit corrosion, and there is a more intense way to restore severe instances of rust.
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The easiest way to remove the iron oxide is to pour a cup of white vinegar (acetic acid), baking soda, water paste and drop the knife into the container and let soak for at least thirty minutes. Then take a ball of steel wool or a sturdy scrub sponge and gently clean off the rust. The acetic acid reacts with iron oxide to produce a salt compound; this salt compound causes the rust to loosen and fall away.
If the rust is more profound and more substantial than a simple case of pit corrosion, sanding may be needed. This technique requires machinery that one can’t find collecting dust in the back of the baking cupboard. Sandblasting is a useful method for removing rust; however, this method should only be done if the rust is severe, and the person doing it has experience.
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If done improperly, the underlying metal can be damaged. Sandblasting is shooting pressurized sand onto the knife’s surface with the intent to remove the iron oxide. It should be done at an angle rather than perpendicular to the surface, as it will decrease the amount of time required to remove the rust.
The Third Step is Sharpening the Blade
No matter the situation, keeping your fixed blade knife sharp is essential, not only for safety but for efficiency. A dull knife is the result of the thin point of the edge being deformed by material softer than steel. The edge of the blade is the part that is sharpened. The edge can be sharpened with the increasingly popular whetstones or home knife sharpening system.
Whetstones are stones that are used for grinding with the addition of water. Before grinding the edge, it is important to know the angle of the blade you are using; fixed blade hunting knives use an edge angle of 25-30 degrees and 30-40 degrees for the 10-13 inches standard tactical knives, survival knives, combat knives, and small bowie knives. You will want to pour water and oil onto the stone, and then the edge can be sharpened. When at home or in the shop, this is an excellent method for honing the edge.
Also, if you have a tactical fixed blade knife that has a partially or fully serrated edge blade, you need to be experienced in sharpening. Don’t worry, if you don’t have any knowledge on it then check out my complete guideline about how to sharpen a serrated knife.
Unfortunately, we are not always home when we discover we have a dull knife. We may be out fishing, in a first aid position, or in combat with bigfoot when we find out that our knife isn’t up to par. The first thing you can try is to turn the thin point of the edge back to its original place by using a leather belt with the technique called stropping. Place the knife at an angle against the leather and pull backward, trying to align the point.
Now assuming you didn’t get gussied up for the wilderness, you are not out of luck if you do not have a belt. All you need is something harder than steel. This could be glass, ceramic, or other steel. Something such as the mouth of a glass bottle can be used. Take the material and find a smooth edge to it. Place it in a position where it will be sturdy. Then take your fixed blade knife and run it along the surface of the material at an angle in the direction from the back of the blade to the front of the blade.
The Fourth Step is Increasing Rust Resistance
To increase the rust resistance of the blade, it is a smart idea to blue the knife. Bluing means to add a corrosion-resistant layer to the blade. Before bluing, the blade must be sharpened and degreased.
Once that is done, heat the knife in an oven or with a propane torch until it reaches 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Then apply the bluing solution being careful not to apply it to the cutting edge of the blade, and then let the knife dry so that it will be ready for use.
The Fifth Step is Oiling the Knife
Having a routine where you apply preventative oil protects against water damage as oil repels water. To oil your fixed blade knife, you should use a soft cloth such as microfiber or chamois cloth with a very small amount of a lubricant based oil or an oil such as WD-40.
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Gently rub the oil on the blade, wiping away any excess. Allow the blade to adequality dry before returning it to its place of storage. Using these methods to prevent rust ensures that the quality of the fixed blade knife stays intact and will have a long life usage.
The Sixth Step is Properly Storaging the Knife
While hunting or in a survival situation, a leather knife sheath can be useful for traveling with the knife and holding it in between periods of use. However, leather traps moisture, and moisture means water. If the knife stays in contact with moisture for a prolonged amount of time, you run the risk of rust.
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To properly care for the fixed blade knife, it is advisable to store it long-term in a plastic bag wrapped first in plenty of paper towels to absorb as much water as possible. It is important to store the knife in the appropriate place at the proper times to ensure the edge stays intact.
Finally the Usage of Your Fixed Blade Knife
With so many different uses and needs for fixed blade knives, and a large variety and selection of knives to match these needs, it is important that we are using our specific fixed blade knives for their intended purposes. This can be exemplified through the basic knowledge of not using kitchen knives to cut wood, not using throwing knives to open packages, or not using collectible combat daggers to gut a fish. Proper usage of a specific knife is vital to its longevity and durability.
There is also the factor of using fixed blade knives for completely unintended things such as hammering nails or using them as a crowbar to pry something open. This blatant misusage and disregard of a knife is the quickest way to wear it down and ultimately break it. Maintaining respect for your fixed blade knife’s purposes and intended usages is one of the biggest factors in how to properly care for it.
The goal of any proud fixed blade knife owner should be to maintain a healthy and long-lasting knife. Following these simple guidelines to help properly care for your knife will make that goal possible.