Rusty Hand Tools

30 Oct 2003
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United Kingdom
I have inherited a number of hand tools from my late father and some have slight rust on the surface - mainly the squares. I think most of this had occurred before I received them.

What would be the best way to clean and protect them? I have seen suggestions of vinegar and WD40

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Buy some cheap, own brand cola, the cheapest you can find from the cheapest supermarket and leave them immersed in that for a day or so. When clean, rinse and dry them and give them a wipe over with an oily rag. (y)
I'd suggest not using the cheap coke but a quality brand, and mix it with rum while you wait.

Wire wool or better still a scotchbrite pad and oil/WD for stubborn bits
Non-Edge tools
Light rust - clean with Scotchbrire pad with a trace of Beeswax on it.
Heavier rust - wire wool with a trace of beeswax
Horrible rust - emery paper

Edge tools (chisels, plane irons)
Back - clean on course stone
Face - clean as Non-edge tools above then Regrind and Hone cutting edge.

Plane bodies - sole & Sides; stick fine emery paper to a sheet of plate glass or something equally as flat. clean up by 'planing' the emery paper, similar action on sides.

I'd not use WD40 as protective lubricant as it will soak into timber and cause you problems with vanish or paint if you don't clean it off the timeber to it's depth. Beeswax is better.
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I like the idea of beeswax.

The planes seem to be in good condition so no work needed there. It is the squares that seem to be the worst - not sure why as they were stored together. The chisels are still in my dad's workshop just in case there are jobs to do for mum. I will need to sort through the rest of the workshop at some point
Ive restored a lot of old tools, I used to use some stuff from hammerite (expensive) you diluted with water but have since found vinegar is just as good, dead cheap as I buy it from a catering supplier near me. Then sand/wire cup brushes/wire wool or these rotary abrasives "things" (not sure of proper name) depending on what it is and how bad.
Don't use WD40 to protect it, it won't work. ACF-50 is really good or old style gearbox oil EP90 etc, messy but good and I've got loads of it!

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