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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This group has been a big help in the past, I'm going to lean again on your expertise.

I am in possession of a bayonet from WWII, Pacific Theater. It's from an extended family member who was KIA, Marines I believe.

I don't want to sell it. I just want to preserve it in the best way possible and make it more presentable as well. I'd like to pass it down to the next generation when the time is right.

This bayonet is contained in a canvas sheath with the Marine's name stenciled on it.

The problem is, before I got it; the item was left unattended in a high heat/high humidity environment. There's significant surface corrosion. I would like to polish off the rust, etc. and put an edge again on the blade.

Is there any reason from a collectible standpoint I shouldn't do some light polishing, oiling and sharpening?
 

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I don't think from a collectible point of view that I'd sharpen it. I only base that on what a friend that collects has told me. He's given me several pieces that were sharpened because he didn't want them in his collection.

Dave
 

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I have a couple of knives in a similar condition as you have described. More than a few collectors have told me to leave them alone. However, I did lightly run a 3m green pad across a couple of them, and then used a bit of oil to prevent any further damage. The patina is looking good to me every time i pick them up.
 

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1. The reason that you do NOT sharpen is because the knife was designed not to be sharpened. The concept was to stab the knife into someone and twist the knife, taking chucks. The concept was not to filet a raw fish. Apparently, quite a few people do not know this and complain when they receive or buy a combat knife that is "dull" . Forget the movie jazz about combat soldiers sitting around sharpening knives.

2. Surface rust, etc. To remove as much rust as possible, you soak the knife in white vinegar overnight. The generality about knives is if a grip can be removed, you do so as there may be rust under the grip. If the grip will not be damaged and cannot be removed, then the generally is soak it.

Depending upon the rust level, you may want to repeat after whipping with a soft cotton cloth (hint - a cut up pair of discarded underwear or an old t-shirt).

3. Now you have stripped away as much rust as you can. If the remaining rust is slight, figure out what grit you want to use or sequence of grits, and lightly sand the remaining rust spots. Sometimes, I cut up a piece of sandpaper and use a que-tip or a blunt punch to press the sandpaper into the rust spot. Keep touching up with drops of vinegar until the rust is gone. Or, I might use the tip of a nail or an ice pick.

If you take this approach, you remove probably less metal than if you had jumped in with a belt sander, file, bench grinder.

4. At this point, you have the metal exposed - and subject to resuming to rust. So, you have to lubricate the same. You can use a fancy oil, 3-in-1 oil, olive oil, Pam, peanut oil.

5. I would suggest then wrapping the knife in a soft cloth (here comes underwear or t-shirt again). The reason i don't back in the canvas sheath is because I have not inspected the inside of the sheath of residual rust.

6. You really should check the condition of the knife in the stored condition once a year. Do you live in a humid area or near the beach or a lake? Water and salt water may be in the air.
 

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Is there any reason from a collectible standpoint I shouldn't do some light polishing, oiling and sharpening?
STOP!

Unless you really know what you are doing, you will only ruin a great piece of history.
We call the discoloring of the steel a patina, and it is supposed to be there. And NEVER sharpen it if it hasn't already been sharpened. Do yourself a favor and ask this question on a WWII collector's forum and get your answers there.
 

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Post a couple pics! Sounds like an awesome piece of history. Would love to see it.

Also... to echo the advice given previously. Speak to and show the item to someone who is an expert in those artifacts before doing anything. This is not just a family heirloom...this might have more historical significance than that.

but definitely post some pics!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks to all who responded. I appreciate your viewpoints.

Sorry it took so long to post this pic. The item is stored off-site and I don't get over there often.

I think I'll begin by applying some oil and see what it looks like after I rub off some of the rust.

Wood Wall Beige Floor Wood stain
 
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The less you fool with it the better. Avoid the temptation to "enhance" its history, other than to preserve it maybe some oil and renaissance wax
 

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I'd submerge it in motor oil for a week, then after that time had elapsed I'd use a nylon brush to remove any loose rust, then repeat the process one more time. However it comes out after the second treatment I'd simply wipe it off and leave it alone; don't touch any part of it with anything that's the least bit abrasive. Keeping it waxed and out of the shealth will help keep it from rusting further.
 

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Why are these so damn expensive? They made millions of them. They should be cheap as chips.
Just guessing, but its probably due to not very many of them surviving. Imagine many of them came back from the wars to be used to chop wood, or for kids to play with, leaving out in the rain. Back then hardly anyone know some day they would be valuable.
 
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