Degrease hand tools?

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Forum topic by Brett posted 07-18-2011 04:41 AM 10284 views 2 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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660 posts in 2709 days

07-18-2011 04:41 AM

Can anyone recommend a product (home-made or store-bought) for degreasing hand tools? I’d like to remove residue from rust-removal products (Evapo-Rust or citric-acid baths), mineral spirits, WD-40, and whatever else may be on some old hand tools I have.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

12 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3675 days

#1 posted 07-18-2011 04:44 AM

I actually use WD40 for that purpose.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3165 posts in 3135 days

#2 posted 07-18-2011 05:26 AM

Not sure what if any residue WD-40 leaves. It may be an excellent choice. But if you REALLY want a lubricant-free surface, you can use some chemicals like acetone (rinse, don’t rub, that just smears it around). Vapor degreasing may be available, but that’s pretty expensive.

Choices that I know of:

Paint thinner- petroleum distillates removal
Lacquer thinner- removes petroleum distillates and some others
MEK will really take oily residue off.

DON’T do it barehanded, despite what people may tell you. I know people with albino-white hands from immersing their hands in MEK and cleaning parts.

I personally clean aluminum after machining with paint thinner and lacquer thinner. But if I really want to see no more oily residue, I use isopropyl alcohol (IPA). I made (machined) a new router table top out of aluminum, and no amount of cleaning with other solvents gave me the result that IPA did.

I just stripped the top of an old table saw I bought. I used electrolysis for the majority of the rust, and WD-40 and a wire brush in my drill for the rest. The end work was just carnauba (MIN-WAX) wax. It looks just fine, and doesn’t put rust on the wood. Also, it is easy to re-do. Just a rag and some wax, then a buff out.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View derosa's profile


1577 posts in 2862 days

#3 posted 07-18-2011 05:39 AM

There’s stuff you can buy at the bike shop called Finish Line Speed Degreaser that comes in an aerosol can that seems to strip anything clean of grease and residue. We call it enviro-killer, don’t ignore the label that says hazardous or flammable. I’ve seen the nastiest equipment sprayed completely clean without the use of a rag or compressed air, we also use it to remove the crap that comes on bicycle chains to keep them from rusting on their trip from China so it will work for you.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4123 days

#4 posted 07-18-2011 05:56 AM

Looks like Amazon carries it

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

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3085 days

#5 posted 07-18-2011 06:19 AM

I used to work in an auto repair shop and we used brake cleaner if we wanted to clean grease off of items without leaving any residue. However, I would caution that with hand tools, they will rust quickly left completely unprotected. For some tools, I like to wipe them down with a light oil such as 3 in 1 or WD 40. For other items, I use a paste wax to provide a protective coating. This is particularly useful on planes and hand saws. The wax has the additional benefit of making them work more smoothly.


-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View kpo101's profile


32 posts in 2655 days

#6 posted 07-18-2011 11:44 AM

Pay close attention to the warning that atom jack gave on the MEK, This stuff works great, but by all means use rubber gloves. It will remove a lot more than just grease.

-- When the problem becomes just too much, There is always the directions!! Karl O. of Louisiana

View HorizontalMike's profile


7758 posts in 2940 days

#7 posted 07-18-2011 02:55 PM

MEK is actually much safer than many of the alternatives: *By the way, I have had my hands turn ”white” from MEK (because it pulls ALL the oils out of your skin) but that is a temporary thing that a good hand cream/lotion will readily correct.

My Navy days as an electrician back in the early 1970s we almost bathed in MEK as we cleaned disassembled motors, bearings and such. While I don’t like calling ANY chemical safe, do use it carefully. FWIW, 70% isopropyl alcohol is my favorite degreaser for hands (and some tools), and it is cheap.

I just have an aversion to using it on easily rustable iron like our TS, BS and jointer beds. It does work well there, BUT stand by with your wax right after you are done, IMO.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2719 days

#8 posted 07-18-2011 09:15 PM

I’m with Mike, liking isopropyl. It’s got enough water for some mopping time and enough alcohol for some grime fighting. A final wipe down with acetone leaves glorius cold steel that’s a pleasure to touch. I’ve been using these aerosolized acetone parts cleaner sprays which I really like; but it gets expensive shooting that stuff around. A gallon of isopropyl’s cheap and a toot of forced air will slick the water off pretty quickly.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View pierce85's profile


508 posts in 2588 days

#9 posted 07-18-2011 09:19 PM

+1 on Finish Line products. I use their Multi-Degreaser as my main degreaser on bike parts. It’s a wonderful product and can be reused – just let the sediment settle on the bottom of the container you’re using and pour it into another.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3611 days

#10 posted 07-18-2011 09:58 PM

I use JIzer it really is fantastic removes all grease right of.It can also be used neat.I always use it when cleaning up old machinery before painting were there is alot of grease look it up.You’ll find it in any machinsts suppliers. get back to me if you have any problems you will love it.JIZER here in the uk maybe it is a different name in the USA it works on grease not rust.


-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Tedstor's profile


1643 posts in 2659 days

#11 posted 07-18-2011 10:48 PM

Trisodium Phosphate (TSP). Can be found in any paint store/Paint aisle. We used to use the stuff to remove grease, crud, etc from aircraft before painting. Its also what people use to remove hand prints and other gunk from a wall before painting.
I’ve never personally used it for cleaning tools, as I usually just use mineral spirits, carb cleaner, acetone, or whatever appropriate material I have on-hand. But if you want a dedicated degreaser, TSP would be a good, cheap option. It comes in a powder form so you can mix as needed and it remains shaelf stable for a long time.

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2719 days

#12 posted 07-18-2011 10:52 PM

TSP is great as a degreaser but it can wreck your hands. In the brewing industry, we used to use TSP to strip the labels off beer bottles. An overnight soak will literally slide the labels off the glass. It’s the best paint prep around. TSP is some awesome stuff.

I think that Finish Line degreaser is one of those acetone based products I was going on about. They work great but I really go through a can quickly. It’s kind of fun. I might need to grow up.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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