Removing rust from brace...citric acid on wood parts?

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Forum topic by BinghamtonEd posted 06-27-2016 12:37 PM 1196 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2298 posts in 2572 days

06-27-2016 12:37 PM

I stopped by a yard sale this weekend, and for the sum of $3 picked up 8 files, a brace, and a 12” bar clamp. The files will just get the usual citric acid soak, a light rub down with some oil, and put to work.

My question is regarding the brace. I’ve read online that the citric acid may dissolve the finish on the wooden parts, and other places say that it will not effect it. Now, I really don’t care what happens to the finish. If it stays, great, if not, I’ll give it a quick sanding and some Arm-R-Seal. Has anyone soaked a whole brace in citric acid, and if so, how did the wood hold up? This will be a user, so I’m not concerned about maintaining the original finish. Or, has anyone soaked rags in the citric acid, and wrapped them around the metal parts of the brace, avoiding the wooden parts?

The amount of rust is small. I’ve done the wirebrush/sandpaper route before, and it just took too long for my tastes.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

6 replies so far

View UpstateNYdude's profile


917 posts in 2185 days

#1 posted 06-27-2016 01:46 PM

Is it just spotting? If so why not just use some steel wool?

-- Nick, “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

View JBrow's profile


1366 posts in 1122 days

#2 posted 06-28-2016 03:07 AM


Nice score for $3!

I think your instincts are correct, keep the handle away from the acid. It may or may not harm the finish, which, as you point out, is not a big problem. However, I would be concerned about the effect of moisture soaking into the wood of the handle.

With a heavy water proof bag such as a 3 mil contractor trash bag or a trash compactor bag encasing the acid saturated rags that are wrapped tight around the metal would protect the handle and while keeping the rags from drying out. The rags could be saturated, wrapped around the tool, and then sealed in the bag.

However, my approach would be to thoroughly wet the rags with the citric acid solution and loosely ring out until damp. Then wrap the tool with the damp rags. Once the tool is wrapped and in the bag, the acid solution could be slowly poured onto the rags, letting any solution that is not absorbed by the rags to remain in the bag. Seal the bag closed. If upon checking, more soaking is required, the tool can be re-wrapped and the excess citric acid in the bag used to re-soak the rags.

Alternatively, the handle could be protected and the entire tool set in a bath to soak. The problem here is obviously ensuring a water-tight seal around the metal shaft at the handle. I suppose a zip lock bag over the handle with a small piece of rubber wrapped around the bag and the shaft with a band clamp holding the bag and rubber gasket tight to the shaft might make a good seal.

Perhaps you already do this but if not, a baking soda bath immediately following the citric acid bath will neutralize the acid. The baking soda solution can the be rinsed off with water.

View TheFridge's profile


10739 posts in 1688 days

#3 posted 06-28-2016 04:13 AM

I’m pretty sure fellow LJ Brit had a blog or vid on how to restore a brace to its full former glory.

I’d echo that you shouldn’t soak the wood. Definitely not with acid because youd need to neutralize it.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View MrUnix's profile


7050 posts in 2401 days

#4 posted 06-28-2016 04:17 AM



-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View bandit571's profile (online now)


21774 posts in 2885 days

#5 posted 06-28-2016 04:29 AM

14” brace..the “Before”, and

The “After”. Just a wire wheel mounted in the drill press. The big one took maybe 15 minutes to shine up, and have it in working order. A few drops of 3in1 oil to lube the moving parts. Does NOT take all that long to do.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View TheFridge's profile


10739 posts in 1688 days

#6 posted 06-28-2016 04:43 AM

I’m a huge fan of wire wheels too. Fine ones are great for light rust.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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