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Thread: Storing a knife in a leather sheath

  1. #1
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    Mar 2012
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    Default Storing a knife in a leather sheath

    So the most common advice I'm seeing is "Don't store your carbon steel knife in it's leather sheath". I even received this advice from the maker of a high dollar english knife I recently purchased. I'm wondering if anybody here has actually experienced significant corrosion or other ill effects from doing so?
    I figure as long as I oil the blade and take it out for use at least once a week is it really gonna do any harm? I believe stainless steel is a fairly recent "invention" and it seems to me if leather wasn't safe for use there would have been a movement away from it's widespread use in the past? So where am I supposed to store my carbon knives if not in their leather sheaths?

  2. #2
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    Sweeneyguy's Avatar
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    I make a cardboard sleeve if you will that just covers the blade.

    But if you take the blade out once a week then you should be fine as long as the leather is dry.

    I've only gotten some folders that were stored in the leather corroded and even then it was on the handles not the blades.
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  3. #3
    Guide Branm008's Avatar
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    I don't store my carbon steel blades in the sheaths, just out of habit.
    I keep mine oiled when not in use and stored somewhere safe.

    I use Butchers Block Oil, you can use olive oil and the like,
    I like it food safe so I can use them around the fire for food.

    The oil keeps them corrosion free until needed.
    When I do use mine I will still keep them oiled and clean after I use them.

    Stainless should not be an issue though, not sure since my only stainless is a fillet knife and I have not used it yet.

    Last edited by Branm008; 03-25-2012 at 05:20 PM.

  4. #4
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    How long of a storage period are you talking about? I keep mine in the sheaths for the most part, but I get them out and use them several times a year. I think it would be a bigger deal if you were talking about long term storage.

  5. #5
    Tracker PropThePolecat's Avatar
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    I've got a carbon knife that I store in a leather sheath for extended periods. The blade is wiped down with Tuff-cloth. Never had a problem with rust.

  6. #6
    Scout Trail Dust's Avatar
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    Leather attracts moisture right out of the atmosphere (yes, we own a leather shop). For this reason, in some environments, the leather can certainly help the steel to oxidize. I have been collecting knives since the late 1950's and know of NO knowledgeable knife maker or sheath maker who suggests storing a knife in its sheath.

    If the sheath is a "pouch" type sheath where the knife depends on the snug, friction fit to retain the knife, storing the knife in the sheath will eventually stretch the leather out to some degree so that the sheath can no longer do its intended purpose. Some of this depends on the shape of the knife handle, too.

    I finish many of my sheaths (we have the shop closed now) inside and out with a clear, flexible, acrylic leather finish that completely seals the leather from the environment. This really helps with maintaining a dry blade in a humid or wet environment. In fact, I have made a few sheaths that will actually float without absorbing ANY water whatsoever, in my past experiments. Since I use my knives often for the camp kitchen, I don't want oils and waxes inside my sheaths. Too, after the knife is used on foods or skinning and gutting of animals or fish, etc., I try to return the blade to its sheath in a sanitary condition. You don't need things growing in your sheath. Pay attention to verdigris, too, if your knife has a guard that reacts with leather acids. Verdigris is very poisonous.

    Best advice is: Don't store your appreciated knives or guns in leather sheaths, holsters, saddle boots, etc. Something like a cardboard sleeve for your blade, like Sweeneyguy mentioned, works just dandy for many people. I store my collections in gun safe drawers in a dry, controlled environment.


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