Cleaning up auger bits

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Forum topic by BenDupre posted 06-13-2017 07:09 PM 630 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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586 posts in 419 days

06-13-2017 07:09 PM

Topic tags/keywords: auger bits rust cleaning

Picked up an old set of Stanley Russel Jennings augers on flea bay. They are in good shape with a little rusty spots. What is the most painless way to shine these up?


-- The problem with communication is the illusion that it has occurred. – George Bernard Shaw

12 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4876 posts in 3892 days

#1 posted 06-13-2017 07:37 PM

There are some who would use a soft or brass wheel on the buffer. I prefer to use a stupid simple piece of cotton sash cord with valve grinding compound. Kinda act as if you’re shining shoes as the motion within the lands of the bits.
Sharpening is a different issue. Lots of time and good files.


View UpstateNYdude's profile


913 posts in 1914 days

#2 posted 06-13-2017 07:39 PM

Soft brass wheel to get rid of the rust and dirt and then a buffing wheel or some metal polish.

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

View Tim's profile


3758 posts in 1893 days

#3 posted 06-13-2017 08:11 PM

The threads on the lead screw are relatively delicate, so anything you would need to use a brass brush on isn’t going to be easy to clean up to great shape. Here are the best things to do to auger bits:

1. Remove the rust. If you they are pitted and the lead screw is significantly rusty, again they won’t be easy to clean up well to good users.

2. Sharpen them. Just sharpen the cutting lips and the inside of the spurs. If you sharpen the outside of the spurs without understanding the cutting geometry of an auger bit you will decrease the diameter that the spurs cut and the bit will bind in the hole. If you spin the auger against some abrasive paper and keep it flat, you will maintain the proper clearance diameter. Also make sure to maintain the clearance angle on the front side (side towards the wood you’re going to cut) of the cutting lips. Most advice will say to leave that side completely alone and just sharpen the bevel.

3. Clean and polish the lead screw. I like to use a brass brush by hand, not in a buffer to be more gentle. Then screw the lead screw into a scrap piece and press some polishing compound into the hole then screw the lead screw in and out many times and it will polish the threads.

You can chase the threads with a 3 corner file or needle file, but it is challenging to keep the right angles and spiral. Again, any that need this are typically more work than they are worth.

Cotton sash cord with compound is a great idea to clean the spiral part of the auger away from the lead screw, I’ll have to try that.

View Ron Aylor's profile (online now)

Ron Aylor

2299 posts in 579 days

#4 posted 06-13-2017 08:21 PM

I would soak them in vinegar over night then tune-up with an auger file …

-- Ron in Lilburn, Georgia.  Knowing how to use a tool is more important than the tool in and of itself.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15247 posts in 2550 days

#5 posted 06-13-2017 09:13 PM

I’d wipe each of them thoroughly with a WD-40 soaked rag to get them coated, and use them.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3300 days

#6 posted 06-13-2017 09:34 PM

I d wipe each of them thoroughly with a WD-40 soaked rag to get them coated, and use them.

- Smitty_Cabinetshop

+1 Using them on some scraps is an easy way to really clean them. Heavy rust spray a little WD40 and let soak for a while, then use.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20168 posts in 3037 days

#7 posted 06-14-2017 02:19 AM

Apple cider vinegar will take the rust off. Soae them for a day in it but it might turn the shafts black but they will be clean an usable.


-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Mr_Pink's profile


50 posts in 303 days

#8 posted 06-14-2017 03:17 AM

I went through this several months ago and made the mistake of neglecting #3 on Tim’s list above. Don’t do that. I almost gave up on a set of perfectly serviceable bits (complete with a nice box). I thought they weren’t cutting because something was wrong with the parts of the bits that actually cut. Out of desperation, I decided to follow directions and polish the threads of the lead screw. Now the bits work fine.

View BenDupre's profile


586 posts in 419 days

#9 posted 06-14-2017 05:12 AM

Thanks for the advice all. Fwiw these Russel Jennings bits cut really well. I have some craftsman augers it seems to take a lot more effort to bore with them. I sharpened those and it helped a little but the lead screw wants to strip the hole and then the bit stops feeding. That hasnt happened in any of the test holes i made with the RJs.

Also BTW in case any one has a comment: it took me quite a while to score a full set on the bay. Aparently there is quite a market for these. The boxed sets are going for a hundred plus bucks. I saw a set in a canvas roll stencilled U.S. ROLL, CANVASS,WOOD BORING AUGER BITS go for a hundred seventy five. Probably went up San Juan hill with TR and the Rough Riders.

These are in a vinyl roll probably 1960s vintage.

-- The problem with communication is the illusion that it has occurred. – George Bernard Shaw

View WayneC's profile


13751 posts in 4029 days

#10 posted 06-14-2017 09:37 PM

My favorites. Have both 100 and 101 sets in boxes.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View TheFridge's profile


9069 posts in 1417 days

#11 posted 06-14-2017 11:17 PM

Difference between the 2? Coarse & fine leadscrew?

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

View theoldfart's profile


9496 posts in 2382 days

#12 posted 06-15-2017 12:21 AM


-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

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