[quote]Originally posted by Nick
Hmm... first off, NEVER touch the blade with your bare hands. Aside from being highly disrespectful, it could also destroy the
Ehh. Gonna quibble a bit. In doing batto/iaido, there are a number of techniques requiring you to touch the blade (usually the mune, of course, and not the ha). Not too sure about the respect thing either. I see a LOT of the 'collector' mentality in dealing with nihonto -- folks who revere the blade (rightly) as a work of art.
However, as a budoka, I also see the sword as a tool of the trade. ANYTHING capable of killing requires great respect, but it is not an object, to me, of worship.
To clean my sword (I use a Chen cheapie for everyday practice), I use a standard sword-cleaning kit (got mine from Mugendo Budogu for about $15 IIRC). Also have a very nice iaito from Tozando that basically only needs wiping down from time to time.
For steel blades: Whack the blade with uchiko, wipe it off, lightly oil it, wipe it off, put it up.
If there's more serious work needed, send it to a sword polisher. However, there's a caveat there, too. Make sure the polisher knows what you plan to do with the sword.
There are different polishes for batto/iai/tameshigiri than for collectible swords ...
If the sword is old and in poor condiion generally, I suggest you lightly oil it, put it away and leave it alone unless you can get it professionally refitted.