Removing rust

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Forum topic by Steven H posted 01-10-2010 12:35 AM 4272 views 1 time favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Steven H

1117 posts in 3259 days

01-10-2010 12:35 AM

I have couple of hand tools that are rusty hammer, pliers,wrench,etc. What is the best way to remove the rust? Would mineral spirit work?


14 replies so far

View Gary's profile


9386 posts in 3632 days

#1 posted 01-10-2010 01:18 AM
This is a topic on rust and suggestions. Might be what you are looking for

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View wudbtchr's profile


2 posts in 3588 days

#2 posted 01-10-2010 02:28 AM

I have had good luck removing rust with electrolysis. There are several good articles if you search electrolysis rust removal. In a nutshell to remove the rust from a wrench proceed as follows. Obtain a non-conductive container large enough to suspend your part to be cleaned. You will need a fully charged car battery and a small charger for the battery, a set of battery cables, a piece of scrap steel bar or angle iron longer is better( for anode), water and I use Arm & Hammer laundry soap powder.
To remove the rust mix about 3/4 cup detergent w/ 3-4 gallons of water in your container. Connect the anode(angle iron or round bar scrap) to the positive on one end of battery cable and connect the negative to the wrench. I stand the anode in the corner of my container as much submerged as possible and keep my jumper cable clamp out of the solution.( the anode will attract and collect rust particles and will deteriorate over time and use). The wrench is then suspended in the solution. Do not let it contact anode as this will be a direct short. BAD.. Now connect the other end of the cables to the battery +to+ -to- and you are removing rust. You will see bubbles coming from the rusty part, rising to the surface, that means you have achieved the desired reaction. You need to hook up a trickle charge if you have a large part to clean. I’d say a 9/16 wrench really rusted will clean up in several hours of soaking. The time it takes is dependent on battery voltage ,cable size and how good the electrical connection is between the battery and the part as well as the anode.Remove the part and most the time a little wire brushing and you will be amazed. This process will also remove paint. BE very careful when cleaning aluminum parts as they will dissolve rather quickly. This process leaves a black finish but will work on cast iron or rolled steel. Best of all it isn’t going to remove the skin from your hands and it will make you shop smell good as well. So Do your research try it out.

-- wudbtchr

View Padre's profile


930 posts in 3688 days

#3 posted 01-10-2010 03:19 AM

I have had a lot of success using white vinegar as a soaking solution, then oiling them up.

-- Chip ----------- 6:8

View wudbtchr's profile


2 posts in 3588 days

#4 posted 01-11-2010 05:23 AM

I forgot to mention after removing part from solution rinse with water and spray with WD-40 to prevent further rust until you are finished working on it.

-- wudbtchr

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3679 days

#5 posted 01-11-2010 05:40 AM

I usually use naval jelly. It always has worked well.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View IkeandBerry's profile


45 posts in 3463 days

#6 posted 01-11-2010 06:06 AM

Evaporust is supposed to be really good. Several posts about cleaning up hand planes have mentioned it. It have not used it myself yet, but I do have a few planes that need to have rust removed from them.

-- There is nothing like the sound of a hand plane passing across a board in an otherwise quiet shop.

View Kerux's profile


812 posts in 4083 days

#7 posted 01-11-2010 06:51 AM

Okay, believe it or not…. When it’s bad, I soak the item in Coca-Cola. Then I’ll use Naval Jelly.


View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3685 days

#8 posted 01-11-2010 06:59 AM

If it’s light rust, like flash rust on cast iron, then WD-40 and a scotch brite pad. Otherwise, like IkeandBerry mentioned, Evaporust, 1/2 gallon, ~$20 at Harbor Freight. I have not used naval jelly but always wondered about it. Lowe’s sells it and I’m tempted to pick up a can everytime I pass by.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View FreshPants's profile


10 posts in 3291 days

#9 posted 01-12-2010 03:13 AM

Evaporust worked really well (btw, 1 Gal @ HF) for me restoring several old Stanley hand planes. Be sure that you completely immerse the object to be de-rusted, otherwise you end up with a “water-line” mark on the steel.

Plus Evaporust is “drain friendly” and is supposedly non-toxic. The smell reminds me a bit of naval jelly though.

View BuilderII's profile


6 posts in 3257 days

#10 posted 01-12-2010 06:40 AM

I’ve always soaked rusty tools in a pan of vinegar over night. if there is still some rust you can give a good rub with some steel wool. be sure and coat your tools with w-d 40 if you plan on storing them for a long time. That should keep them from rusting again.

-- Build Better.

View mckenziedrums's profile


118 posts in 3256 days

#11 posted 01-12-2010 01:45 PM

It’s hard to beat electrolysis for rust removal if you’re talking any kind of serious rust… If you’re really wanting to salvage these it’s worth the research into it and the time to set it up. You’ll be VERY thankful later.

View EEngineer's profile


1117 posts in 3812 days

#12 posted 01-12-2010 02:32 PM

I’ve used both naval jelly and Evaporust.

The primary ingredient in naval jelly is phosphoric acid. They use phosphoric acid in many colas, so its possible that soaking rusty tools in cola is equivalent to naval jelly. There are many rust removal solutions at the big box stores that have phosphoric acid as the main working ingredient. It tends to leave a grey coating on the finished part that actually helps to prevent further rust. I find it pleasing, but it can be removed with the green plastic scratchy (scotch-brite??) pads. It does stink; use it in a well-ventilated area. I used it to recondition a table saw table. It left all the machining marks and the end result looks very nice.

Evaporust is simply amazing! It turns all rust into a black coating that is easily removed with green plastic scratchy pads with only light hand scrubbing. Almost no smell and it breaks down into sewer safe by-products. Once opened and exposed to air, it starts to break down so only buy as much as you need for each job. It seems to leave a grey coating also but not as pronounced as the naval jelly. I have used this to recondition several old planes I inherited from my father-in-law. It turned severely rusted hulks into daily users.

I like either of these products as opposed to straight abrasive removal. Abrasive removal will leave rust in pits to continue rusting. These products reach down into the pits and remove rust. You will still have the pits but they should be rust-free.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View degoose's profile


7244 posts in 3553 days

#13 posted 01-17-2010 09:16 AM

Rotten stone fruit in a bucket of water… soak over night and hose next morning.. repeat as necessary.
Great for car parts as well… lol

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4073 days

#14 posted 01-17-2010 06:43 PM

I just used ELECTROLYSIS here.

-- Happy woodworking!

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