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Tool restoration – what’s underneath that rust?

There are a lot of old tools lying around – in second hand shops, markets and sheds. Here’s how to remove some of the rust and see if you’ve found something worth using in the workshop. It’s simple, just some vinegar and water, some metal sandpaper and steel wool. And some oil to prevent the rust returning.

So, here we go….

These looked like basket cases but were solid, the saw was sharp and the square was, well, square…

A rub down with some metho and steel wool revealed an interesting medallion on the saw handle – the saw is an American Henry Disston, around 100 years old and had been kept sharp until the rust set in. So well worth a go at restoring.

Removed the handle to prevent the wood turning black in the acid bath and soaked the saw plate in vinegar overnight. Same treatment for the square, also avoiding any contact between the wood and the vinegar.

A LOT of rust came off, so that was rubbed off with sandpaper and the plate was returned to the vinegar bath for another few hours. After that, more sanding with 80 grit, then 120 grit followed by a rubdown with steel wool (0 grade).

The wooden handles were lightly sanded and finished with a thin coat of Carnuba wax. The saw handle turned out to be apple and the square rosewood.

Finally, the brass inlay was polished up with metho and steel wool (000) and a thin coat of Camelia oil was applied to the metal parts to prevent rusting.

The metal had taken quite a hit from the rust but still came up pretty well, all things considered.

One problem that a couple of club members have found, is brass turning into a rose colour if it hits the vinegar. Cam’s fixed this using Brasso.

And sometimes the handles need work, in this case the original boxwood handle couldn’t be salvaged, but could be replaced by Bob S. Awesome!