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Preserving a US Navy Issued Knife?

Adam Weller

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Hey guys, a friend I work with brought this knife to me wondering if I had any ideas on how to best preserve it.


It was issued to his grandfather in WWII. He fought in the pacific on the USS Wasp which was torpedoed by the Japanese in September of 1942.


He wants to keep the patina pretty much intact and display the knife. 


I told him to leave it alone as much as possible. Maybe some gentle steel wool to get some dirt off. It looks like someone might have taken some lite sandpaper to it at some point, unfortunately.

I’m wondering about the leather stacked handle, should he put any kind of preservative on it?

Interestingly enough, the butt of the knife is wood (looks like oak?). Someone obviously used it as a hammer at some point.

Should I even sharpen it?

Any of you history gurus have any information on these knives for him? 


Some not so great pictures:













Any input/thoughts are welcome.



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I've never seen one with a wooden pommel, but I'm far from an expert.  The shape seems right to me, so that might be a Navy variant?   I would do as little as you can.  I would not sharpen it if it's meant for display.  You might go over it lightly with soapy water and a soft tooth brush.  Then a light application of Neatsfoot oil to the leather.

Cool piece and a great history.  This is just my .02



"The worst day smithing is better than the best day working for someone else."


I said that.


If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

- - -G. K. Chesterton


So, just for the record: the fact that it does work still should not be taken as definitive proof that you are not crazy.


Grant Sarver

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I'm totally with Geoff.  You should be able to research Robeson naval pattern knives from WWII easily enough.  I've seen them with cast aluminum pommels, wonder if this was either early production, or maybe the original got knocked off and someone replaced it with a chunk of baseball bat?  Looks like ash, in other words. Edit: They were issued with wooden pommels!  Who knew? https://www.ima-usa.com/products/original-u-s-wwii-robeson-shuredge-no-20-usn-mki-fighting-knife-with-wood-pommel?variant=43580062021



A little Liburon brand #0000 steel wool (much finer and softer than any other #0000 brand) with a generous amount of a good gun oil might be okay to neutralize the rust, but that would be a no-no to a museum or serious collector.  And not a whole lot of neat's foot, (which is also a conservation no-no, they prefer Lexol leather restorer or even pure glycerine because neat's foot often has corrosive petroleum stuff in it), just a drop or two every few weeks until the leather is no longer crunchy.

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thanks for the info Alan

wonderful to know.


please visit my website http://www.professorsforge.com/


“Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” E. V. Debs

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Sweet knife Adam!  And Great info Alan.   I am also of a mind to leave it alone as much as possible.  But then again, they probably made a million of these.   Had a similar one in my hands a while ago that belongs to a friend that's obviously seen some use.   Believe it was a marine? mark  I,  Aluminum  pommel .Meant for one thing them knives.      On one hand, a sweet piece of history.  On the other, a totally serviceable knife.  Call belongs to the owner.    I'd probably just sharpen it and throw some wax over the leather.    Steel wool for any rust.  Otherwise, I'd enjoy the patina for what it is.

Keep it in an air tight case for history to preserve, or restore the leather with some oil/wax  if the owner doesn't care, and I'm sure the knife will last another 100 years under moderate use.  Probably longer.


.02 cents

Edited by Bruno
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