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Rusty Brace Drill Bits - how to clean them

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Forum topic by yag113 posted 12-04-2013 03:39 PM 4251 views 1 time favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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yag113

28 posts in 1134 days


12-04-2013 03:39 PM

Got a bunch of old brace drill bits, some are OK and some are super rusty. I have a rust cleaning product but I tried it on a metal tool and hated the result. Yes, it removed the rust but it also took all the life and patina out of the old tool… left it mat finish and dull and just plain ugly. So for old tools I went back to the old fashioned way…0000 steel wool, WD 40, a rag and a great deal of elbow grease. But now I’m looking at about 50 cruddy drill bits and I just can’t face trying to clean them ‘the old fashioned way’, especially since my hand is still bandaged from carpal tunnel surgery 2 weeks ago.

Any easy way to clean them, short cuts? I’d rather have them a little less clean but with some of their orignal luster than stripped of all character, even if it is just a bit.

Gay Frazee of Shore Wildlife Rehab

-- Shore Wildlife Rehab


16 replies so far

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JustJoe

1554 posts in 1505 days


#1 posted 12-04-2013 04:03 PM

You soak them in evaporust for a while, or tie them all together with metal wire and zap them in the electrolysis tank. Then you go to your laundry room and pull your rock tumbler off the shelf:

If they’re already super sharp then put some duct tape on the cutting edge, otherwise leave it open because you’ll be sharpening it when you’re done.

You can tumble one at a time by just dropping it in, or you can make a couple discs out of wood or plastic that you use to hold them apart. Then you can fit 2-3 in at a time. Don’t just drop them all in so that they can bang against each other.

Super-fine tumbling medium overnight and they come out shiny.

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Tim

3119 posts in 1428 days


#2 posted 12-04-2013 04:06 PM

Badly rusted brace bits probably aren’t worth your time unless they are unusually rare for some reason.

For the bits in better shape you already figured out your options more or less. Lots of work and save the patina or less work and lose it. If you buff and polish out that grey matte finish though, they can look decent. (Nice, I see Joe has posted a great option for that while I was typing.) You can also get in there with a buffing wheel and some 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper or whatever too.

For the bits in worse shape, the problem is the rust will cause pitting and even if you remove the rust you need to get the pits out to have the tool function well. Not all of them of course, but the more pits you have the worse the bit will cut. There isn’t much metal on a brace bit to remove and still have it work. The worst place to have pitting is on the outside of the spurs because you can’t file that away without either extremely accurately bending the spurs out to compensate or extremely accurately reducing the diameter of the entire bit along all of it’s length. If you’ve read this far you’ll realize it’s probably not worth it for a pitted bit.

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yag113

28 posts in 1134 days


#3 posted 12-04-2013 04:30 PM

Well I couldn’t ask for 2 more complete and definitive answers and frankly I didn’t believe there was an easy way but it never hurts to ask!

Strangely enough, Evaporust was the product I recently purchased online. And the stuff is amazing.. however… I grew up as antique dealer and saw many atrocities committed by those who wanted to “clean up” an item and a lot of value destroyed. I am always reluctant to refurbish without great consideration which is why I tried it on a tool that was more rust than anything else!

I actually have an electrolysis machine for cleaning jewelry! But I don’t think the bits will fit in it.

But thanks… I think I’ll try plan B… leave them as they are and let someone else deal with them!

-- Shore Wildlife Rehab

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bandit571

14627 posts in 2150 days


#4 posted 12-04-2013 04:45 PM

Can they be chucked into a drill, and then spun inside a bucket of dry, clean sand?

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

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69BBNova

341 posts in 1683 days


#5 posted 12-04-2013 05:52 PM

bandit I just saw your answer, I think after a bath in Evapo-Rust then doing what you suggest may be a GREAT!!! idea…

The only thing I would do differently is using a proper abrasive…

I’m going to try that. If it works well I’m going to HATE myself for building a drum polisher…lol

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JKMDETAIL

172 posts in 1122 days


#6 posted 12-04-2013 06:23 PM

Like the post. I have an old brace that belonged to my Great Grand father I would like to get cleaned up. Real value probally not. To me priceless….

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yag113

28 posts in 1134 days


#7 posted 12-05-2013 01:09 PM

Ooooh… I like the sand idea. Like sand box sand? I’m going to get some and try that! It would be a process but a lot easier than trying to hand clean them! I’ll get sand today and post the results. Thanks guys!

-- Shore Wildlife Rehab

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yag113

28 posts in 1134 days


#8 posted 12-07-2013 08:16 PM

Hi Guys! I got sand and evaporust cleaned a couple of bits. I then thought I’d get out an old electric drill since it might take time to “polish” in the sand and then realized the chuck on my electric drills are all small and made for straight bits, so I tried putting it in my larger cordless. It fit in and tightened but was also not made for the funky brace bit ends so it stayed in for a half minute, wobbled and loosened. Do they make an adapter to use brace drill bits in ‘standard’ electric or cordless drills? This whole project has become completely non cost effective if one calculates their time and energy but now I’m involved…. the challenge is on and I’m like a terrier with a bone… I’m having trouble letting it go! Any suggestions?

-- Shore Wildlife Rehab

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bandit571

14627 posts in 2150 days


#9 posted 12-07-2013 08:21 PM

Put the bits in a brace and spin them as fast as you can turn the brace.

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

View JustJoe's profile

JustJoe

1554 posts in 1505 days


#10 posted 12-07-2013 08:36 PM

I just dropped this bit in the tumbler 10 minutes ago. I’ll turn the tumbler off tonight. Let us know when you figure out your method and we can compare results.

I don’t know of any adapter. You need a 2-jaw or 4-jaw chuck.

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shampeon

1718 posts in 1650 days


#11 posted 12-07-2013 09:08 PM

Behold the power of citric acid and a wire brush.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

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yag113

28 posts in 1134 days


#12 posted 12-07-2013 11:43 PM

Citric acid… like sour salt? What I use in sweet and sour cabbage soup? I’ve got food grade citric acid right in the frig. LOL! But it’s a tiny bottle… I guess there is a non food grade version? Anyway, those bits looks gorgeous! My compliments!

-- Shore Wildlife Rehab

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yag113

28 posts in 1134 days


#13 posted 12-07-2013 11:48 PM

And Just Joe… I’m not quite as judgmental about the evaporust effects on the bits as on a tool itself… The stuff is AMAZING but I do hate the dead look it gives the metal, which you all seem to understand. I’m in the process of attempting to sell off some old tools but it’s hard… I’m a big fan of tools and once I get them all spit and shined I don’t want to sell them anymore!

-- Shore Wildlife Rehab

View Tim's profile

Tim

3119 posts in 1428 days


#14 posted 12-08-2013 01:41 AM

Yag, that dead look you’re referring to is probably the phosphate coating the evaporust leaves. It’s not very hard and comes off with some brushing or polishing if you want to. Easier than getting rust off for sure. But the phosphate coating is also a bit rust preventative so for a tool you don’t care about the look of, just oil it and call it even.

There probably is a non food grade, but guys here say they can get a few pounds of it for a few dollars at Brewing supply stores and such. I’m sure Amazon has it.

That is pretty stellar Ian. I did not like the results when i tried vinegar, but I probably left them too long and they were too far gone to start with.

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shampeon

1718 posts in 1650 days


#15 posted 12-08-2013 02:14 AM

Yup, sour salt’s the same stuff. It’s cheaper than Evaporust, and in powder form so you can mix up as much as you need at whatever strength. Tim, controlling the concentration’s the big advantage over vinegar.

I dunk the rusty tools in the citric acid bath and leave it overnight, then chuck up a wire wheel on my lathe or drill press (depending on mood). Wheel off the phosphate, then take a rag and some light oil (I’m partial to 3-In-1) and wipe it all down.

Then sharpen up the bits with an auger or diamond file, and put some green polishing compound in a hole to sharpen up the screw. I should point out that I sorted through the bits first to see which ones were bent or too far gone.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

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