Hammer A3 31 restoration series #3: Beginning rust removal

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Blog entry by djwong posted 08-18-2009 05:34 AM 7180 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Inspection of rust damage Part 3 of Hammer A3 31 restoration series series no next part

I decided to begin work on removing the rust on a small section of the outfeed table. The surface of the jointer beds are made up of machined “ridges”. I first tried multiple applications of Boeshield Rust-Off. Even though the garage door was open, the fumes were terrible. (I added a fan blowing across the table and that greatly improved things.) I first rubbed off the surface rust with a blue scotch-brite pad. I then sprayed on the Rust-Off, wait 1 minute, then abraded with the scotch-brite for another minute. Finally I would wipe clean with a cotton cloth.

After 6 applications, the surface looked like this…

In the next table section, I wanted to try something without the noxious fumes. I used a razor blade to scrape off all the surface rust. This actually worked better than I would have suspected. I then applied a paste of Bar Keeper’s Friend powder and 3 in 1 oil. I used a 3M purple nylon abrasive pad and rubbed over the surface. I cleaned the residue with a cotton rag soaked in mineral spirits. I used 3 applications of the paste.

The photo shows on the bottom the Rust-Off side, and on the top the powder paste side. The Rust-Off seems to have worked better getting between the ridges, but left an annoying gray oxidation layer. Neither method completely removed the rust shadow stains.

On closer inspection with a raking light source, you can see the severe pitting on the surface left by the rust. I don’t think this pitting will affect the performance of the jointer table, but I must admit to some disappointment knowing that the surface cannot be restored to an “as new” condition without regrinding.

I am still waiting for delivery of some Evapo-Rust to try (could not find a local source). But based on my experiments so far, I am tempted to just use mechanical abrasion to remove the rust. I think a wire brush on a drill would get rid of the rust between the ridges and leave a shinier surface, but I don’t know which type of brush to use. has a large selection to choose from (wheel, cup, brass, steel, etc…). If anyone has some advice, I would appreciate it.

-- David W. Cupertino, CA

8 comments so far

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 3379 days

#1 posted 08-18-2009 06:06 AM

For smaller items, I would have some suggestions, such as electrolysis, but for something this large, the only thing I’ve removed that bad of rust from is my used snowplow I bought (way worse than that actually). I did use the wire brush as you mentioned, but on an angle grinder which spins much faster than a drill. It worked well enough for what I was doing but probably not to the level you need if you want to remove all discoloration too. I think from the reviews I’ve seen and read, the Evapo-rust is the way to go. Bar Keeper’s Friend I believe is similar to Brasso metal polish which I use for some things, but is so fine that it would take days to remove pitting like that even on softer metals, let alone iron. I have an idea, but haven’t tried it yet so maybe someone else can chime in on whether they think it’s worth a shot. Electrolysis without immersing the item. Attach the negative terminal to the underside of your tabletop, lay some sopping wet old towels on top of the rusted surface after soaking them in an electrolyte solution (washing powder or whatever you choose to use), then lay some kind of electrode on top of that, I’m thinking a screen, or large flat piece of steel to distribute the charge evenly, and attach your positive terminal to that. I am going to try it but haven’t gotten around to it yet but if I do before you get your Evapo-rust, I’ll let you know how it goes. Okay, enough rambling. Good luck.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View Timbot's profile


25 posts in 3237 days

#2 posted 08-18-2009 08:48 AM

I just did quite a bit of rust removal from an old craftsman table saw I’m restoring, and wire brushes worked wonders. I didn’t need to use them on the top itself, as there was actually little rust on the table. However, they blasted the surface rust off the sides in an afternoon. I initially started with a corded drill, but gave in and used an angle grinder. If you’ve got a Harbor Freight nearby, you can pick up an angle grinder for under $20. For just general grinding and cleaning applications, it does just fine. I actually purchased two awhile ago, so I wouldn’t have to switch between cut off discs and grinding wheels. This allowed me to install a cup brush on one, and a coarse wire wheel on the other. Between these two, I stripped all the rust off in an afternoon. I picked up both brushes from HD for around $16 each. Both are Milwaukee, American made, and very high quality by what I can tell. Fair warning though. The wire wheels on angel grinders go much faster than those on power drills. Those wires can and will break off and smack you. Be sure to cover up, and at least wear some good eye protection. They left a beautiful finish after I was done, though, which saved me literally hours of sanding. I was very impressed by how aggressive they were, but how clean they left the surface. Good luck in your rust removal!

-- Timbot, So Cal

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2790 posts in 3433 days

#3 posted 08-18-2009 10:53 AM

Evaporust works wonders but I’ve only used it on tools I could soak them in a container. pink naval jelly works well too and can be picked up at any automotive store. It too has fumes issues though.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View charlton's profile


87 posts in 3404 days

#4 posted 08-18-2009 02:25 PM

Patience, my friend. Wait for the EoR before trying any mechanical methods. Don’t be limited by your imagination. You don’t necessarily have to take the parts to the EoR. For example, if the paper towels method I mentioned earlier doesn’t work, you can always get some putty and plastic containers and form a container right on the surface of the jointer bed to contain the EoR.

Mechanical means can certainly work (that’s what I did with my jointer bed but that was before I was informed about EoR) but there is also potential to screw things up a bit.

View JimF's profile


144 posts in 3288 days

#5 posted 08-18-2009 03:55 PM

An important thing to remember about angle grinders is to be certain that the wire wheel or any attachment is rated for the speed of the grinder. There can be a catastrophic failure if the wire wheel/grinder/cut off wheel is not rated for full speed. Also, when using a wire wheel at high speed, a full face shield, rather than just safety glasses is necessary. A wire moving at high speed can really do some damage and a ricochet could get to your eye from the side.

-- Insert clever tag line here

View Mark Mazzo's profile

Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 3908 days

#6 posted 08-18-2009 04:34 PM


I can tell you that the Evap-o-rust works wonders on tools. I did a hand plane with it quite a while ago and I blogged about it here and on my blog. I think that may have been the original introduction of Evap-o-rust to the woodworking community – many people are using it now with great results! I got mine at an auto parts store.

I have not tried Evap-o-rust on a horizontal surface like this, but I’d bet that if sprayed or sponged on and left to work it will do the job. It will not remove the pitting completely if the metal is already eaten away, but it will remove most if not all of the discoloration. You might want to try a random orbit sander with a scotch-brite pad attached to the velcro if you want a mechanical means of shining the surface. I’d probably go that route before resorting to wire brushes in fear of doing damage to the table with too aggressive a brushing. Don’t forget a good coat of paste wax on the surface after you’ve cleaned it with the evap-o-rust.

-- Mark, Webster New York, Visit my website at

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3572 days

#7 posted 08-19-2009 02:33 AM

I have used sand paper starting at around 120 up to 1200 then rubbing compound and buffer .It’s worked on some super rough surfaces.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View oldnovice's profile


6845 posts in 3363 days

#8 posted 03-01-2012 05:45 AM


Since you live in the bay area you have access to quite a number of machine shops, on either side of the bay, that can re-grind if you feel that is really needed.

It probably won’t be cheap but still much less than a new combo joint er/planer!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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