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How to do electrolysis ?

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Forum topic by Don K. posted 06-14-2009 07:01 AM 2106 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Don K.

1075 posts in 2794 days


06-14-2009 07:01 AM

I was just reading Sandkings blog on how he used electrolysis to remove the rust from a old hand planer. I have a box full of my Grandpa’s old hand tools…several old hand planers etc….and of course all are covered in a ton of rust. I would like to restore these, and have never used electrolysis before…and have no idea of where to even start.

Could one of my fellow L/J’s tell me how this works and how to do it…or at least tell me where to look for the information so I could do this ?

Many thanks to any and all for the help.

-- Don S.E. OK


10 replies so far

View Myron Wooley's profile

Myron Wooley

226 posts in 3364 days


#1 posted 06-14-2009 07:07 AM

It’s a whole lot easier to get a jug of Evaporust from Autozone. Electrolysis is cool, but why bother? Evaporust is safe, no fussing with electricity, and works great!

-- The days are long and the years are short...

View DaleM's profile

DaleM

952 posts in 2851 days


#2 posted 06-14-2009 07:08 AM

David wrote it up in pretty good detail. I’ve done it and it works okay, but it may not remove everything. What it doesn’t remove is easier to clean up afterwards though. I used WD40 along with a brush, steel wool, and a scratch pad to remove the remaining small amounts of rust. Here is the link to David’s blog. http://lumberjocks.com/David/blog/2191

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 2794 days


#3 posted 06-14-2009 07:21 AM

Thanks Myron…I will go by my local Autozone and pick some up.

Thanks for the link Dale…..while I will for sure try the “Evaporust”...I still would like to try the electrolysis just for fun.

-- Don S.E. OK

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DaleM

952 posts in 2851 days


#4 posted 06-14-2009 07:27 AM

Don, it’s fun anyway. I had showed my kids how to use a penny to copper plate a quarter and a nickel. They looked pretty cool. I had considered copper plating my plane after de-rusting it; just reversing the polarity and substituting copper for the two aluminum plates that I had been using (David used pieces of steel rebar for the positive electrodes). It would have been interesting and possibly would have prevented future rust, but I’m pretty sure it would have devalued the planes. I will probably get some evaporust too because from the review I saw, it looked like it worked really well.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View Myron Wooley's profile

Myron Wooley

226 posts in 3364 days


#5 posted 06-14-2009 07:49 AM

Just don’t forget and leave your stuff to soak for a week. I have a set of Marples chisels that are blackened. No harm done, just turned them black!

-- The days are long and the years are short...

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

17677 posts in 3143 days


#6 posted 06-14-2009 07:51 AM

electrolysis is pretty simple. Use a DC current to move material from one place to another. A small battery will do the work. One polarity of +/- will move teh material one direction, want to put it back where it was, reverse the polarity. You need to do this in a solution to carry tthe material back and forth. That’s it in a nut shell.

Plumbers have a lot of trouble with this if they connect copper to galvanized pipe. By definition, it is two dissimliar metals in an acid bath.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View marcb's profile

marcb

768 posts in 3141 days


#7 posted 06-14-2009 03:11 PM

Electrolysis is cool, but why bother?

Because at 20 bucks a gallon its a bit expensive to fill up a 10 gallon container to do larger parts.

Electrolysis also has the added benefit of loosening some of the paint (lots if you have to leave it in for a long time)

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4012 posts in 3531 days


#8 posted 06-14-2009 05:07 PM

Just as a sidelight for those who jump into the electrolysis process. I had a difficult time finding washing soda locally until I tried a supermarket that catered to older customers in a long established neighborhood versus in the ‘burbs. It’s probably not a very hip laundry product…but it works great and it’s cheap. If you are planning to Parkerize the metal after cleaning, it is truly the way to go, since it strips all oil and contaminates down to the metal, and leaves nothing behind when rinsed off.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View MedicKen's profile

MedicKen

1610 posts in 2930 days


#9 posted 06-14-2009 06:16 PM

I have recently used both electrolysis and Evaoprust and I must say i prefer the electrolysis. It may be a little slower but I think it does a better job at leaving the patina than evaporust. The evaporust parts came out looking gray, even after using a wire wheel. The electrolysis parts came out black originally but after a quick wire brushing were awesome. The electrolysis also removed many layers of old paint and left a nice clean ready to paint surface.

Myron….If you leave the parts in for a week they are going to turn black. If it takes that long to remove the rust there is probably something wrong with your setup. I would look at what you are using as an electrolyte, I am using A&H washing soda, about 1 tablespoon per gallon of water.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their therapist....medic20447@gmail.com

View Myron Wooley's profile

Myron Wooley

226 posts in 3364 days


#10 posted 06-14-2009 06:35 PM

The parts were in Evaporust. I put them in and got distracted. Didn’t remember them until the next Saturday.
The black cleans off easily with Scotchbrite.

Here’s a nice electrolysis how-to from the Antique Engines folks: Rust Removal by electrolysis

-- The days are long and the years are short...

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