Electrolysis has become my favorite way to clean an old tool. It is a chemical method but is one of the cleanest and greenest ways to do it. First I clean the dirt and debris off of the project. Then take a roto tool with a brush and loosen paint, grease and large rust deposits. I believe this method leaves as much of the original metal as possible. There are some fine articles on the subject. WWGOA , americanwoodworker , and a ton of or lj’s have posted on the subject, here is just one..
There are many ways to do this and if I was to use another I probably would choose citric acid. [thanks Dennis]
Now today I have an old sargent plane that I found at an antique shop. I had cleaned it up rather quickly and tuned the iron. I used it for about a month and have found myself grabbing it first. So the need to put a real cleaning and tuning came about. I broke the plane down tied the main pieces together with copper wire. I was in the mist of doing a glue up. You know the drill , glue wait, glue wait….... I then grabbed a plastic container, fixed it up with a good solid method for attaching leads to. Then I went looking for a power supply. Most of the articles tell you to use a car battery charger. The new style charger is designed to charge a car battery. The technology is smart enough to tell if there is a load attached to it. So the new ones will not even come on unless you place a battery in the loop. I happen to have a good old 12 volt power supply that will crank out about 15 amps if needed. Leftovers from working in the oil fields. I placed the plane in the plastic bin and turned the power on. She started the process instantly.And the cost was nothing. I used materials that were on hand. To me that is the beauty of it. I will take some pictures of the finished plane a post when it is done.
Here is a video of the cooking process, its about a minute and a half.
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