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Knives - To Buff Or Not To Buff

There has always been the looming question in collector's knives in regards to buffing or cleaning a knife. Of course opinions vary as much as different knife patterns. It's really a matter of preference but there are different degrees in cleaning a knife. Most regard buffing as literally cutting away a small amount of blade to remove rust and or pitting and can even go as far as taking the knife apart. This is all fine but the knife should not be passed off as a mint knife. If the pattern would be considered rare it would still bring a premium but still should not bring more than 50 percent of book value. This brings up another issue. Many knife traders like gun traders depend on price guides to much to set their values or selling price. I was told two things once by an elder gentleman that has always stuck in my mind "never buy a knife that you wouldn't care to keep" and "a knife is worth as much as you can get out of it." My belief is lots of knives in so called price guides that seem inflated are probably influenced by how many of that type of knife the author has.

Back to the issue at hand to buff or not to buff. My opinion as far as cleaned, means a knife that has been lightly rubbed with some type of abrasive but not had the metal shaved away and has never been taken apart. More so lightly hit on a muslim wheel to bring the shine back out as if it was from the factory not to remove pits or deep sharpening scratches. Some knife cleaners can clean a knife in this fashion to where it's near impossible to see. This is a good thing and in many respects they are salvaging a good knife. The knife still should not be passed of as mint. This is where the integrity and honesty of the knife trader comes into question. It's a bad feeling to buy a knife at a show or gathering and feel proud of it only to have the wind let out of your sails so to speak. What I mean by this is you pay $150.00 for a knife only to show a fellow knife trader and be offered $50.00 for it because it had been cleaned. It a disheartening feeling and one that has happened to me personally. A knife of this nature should bring in the 60 to 70 percent range of so called book value. Of course the rarity of a pattern could make it bring a premium.

The last degree in this taboo topic would be hand rubbing with a non abrasive polish such as Semi Chrome or Metal Glo. With this type of cleaning you are using a small amount of polish with a soft cloth to just shine off finger prints and bring the luster back to the blades, handles or bolsters. When you polish a knife in this fashion you are basically just removing the handling marks. This does not hurt the value off a knife. It is still a mint knife it's just being taken care off. Cleaning is not the only influence on knife prices. Rarity, handle material, manufacturer, date of manufacture and blade configurations are the main variables that make up the price.

This is of course only my opinion and I'm sure lots of people will agree as well as disagree with me on this. The best thing is buy what you like and buy from a reputable person. Remember the two adages I mentioned earlier "never buy a knife that you wouldn't care to keep" and "a knife is worth as much as you can get out of it." Now that you are an informed knife trader get out and get your feet wet, it's a great hobby and can be profitable as well.

Submitted by:

MAC The Knife

MAC the knife has been collecting knives for 17 years and is well known to many knife collectors. You can see some of his great knives at http://www.knifetrading.com




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