Basic Care of Fencing Equipment

Fencing equipment, like any piece of kit, needs to be taken care of. Here we will break down how to care and clean for all your fencing equipment.

The Sabre

Your sabre is arguably the most important piece of equipment you have as a fencer, and keeping it in good condition not only extends its life, but also keeps it safe from harming other fencers. Rusted and corroded blades are more prone to breaks which can lead to serious injuries.

Sport Sabre blades are made of a very flexible spring steel, which while having some corrosion resistant properties, can still rust. In order to clean the weapon, please follow these steps:

  1. Strip the sabre down
  2. Clean the blade and tang with a nail buffing block or a rust removal block.
  3. Oil the blade with WD-40, gun oil (such as CLP), or even olive or vegetable oil.
  4. Ensure the guard is free of rust, and file away any burrs on the edge of the guard.
  5. Ensure the grip does not have any flakes of rubber coming off of it, and there are no cracks in the plastic core.
  6. Re-assemble the sabre.

Armor, Glove, and Mask Liner

Fencing armor is made of canvas or thick polyester fabric, and thus requires special treatment. We recommend the following cleaning regiment:

  • Soak the armor, glove, and mask liner in sink or bucket with warm water, baking soda, vinegar and dish soap.
    • For best results, put the armor in first, sprinkle baking soda and some dish soap, followed by the glove, and mask liner in the same fashion. Add vinegar until everything is bubbling well, then fill with water.
  • After soaking for a time, wring the armor out by hand and throw into the washing machine. Wash with cold water to avoid shrinking.
  • Hang all armor to dry fully, never put armor in the dryer as dryers can damage the velcro.

While cleaning your armor, this is an excellent time to check the stitches and velcro to ensure everything is still functioning.

The Mask

Fencing masks can be difficult to clean, but there are some simple solutions. ONLY USE WET METHODS WITH A NON-ELECTRIC MASK. To clean by hand, fill a sink with soapy water and gently scrub with a brush, rinse and leave to dry. Alternatively, you can run your mask through the dishwasher, on the top rack. Turn off the heat dry cycle as the extreme heat can damage the rubber and plastic on the mask.

For electric masks, the best that can be done is to wipe down the inside with a cloth soaked in alcohol and left to dry. Lame material is very delicate and can be easily damaged by water.

Proper Storage of Gear

Fencing equipment should be stored in a dry place where sweat can be allowed to evaporate and any moisture kept away from the blades. When you bring your bag home from class, open up the zipper a bit to ensure everything gets dried out while in your bag. You can further invest in a protective sleeve or scabbard for your weapons. These can be as simple as a PVC tube with an end cap and an elastic strap to hold it down, or a dedicated blade sleeve like this, this, or this.

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