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Cleaning rusted hammers and stakes

I have a set of hammers and stakes which I have been given. I need to
refinish them as they were rusted when I received them. I purchased a
Harbor Freight 1/4 in. die grinders on sale with the intention to
remove some of the worse rust pitting with it and flap wheel sanding

I wanted to do this so as not to make a big mess in my studio. I
would be grateful for any as to the best way to go.

Respectfully Yours

Electrolytic Rust Removal. Taking off rust, grease and paint with a
battery charger You can try this site first if the rust is heavy and
to keep the mess down it can be done out side in a covered
container. here is the site.

In doing a refurbish job on stakes, hammers and anvils the biggest
problem becomes removing the dings and nicks put in most of the
surfaces. You will end up grinding or filing them out and then using
the surface conditioning disks with the die grinder The disks are
the ones that look like the pot scrubbing pads only in different
grades of coarse, fineness. For info you can due a search on Harbor
Frights site for a picture and info. But since you will be using a
lot of them, as they wear out fast in use. the best place to get them
is an industrial supply place like these sites.

This site is a goldmine for metal finishing as all most everything
you can need is used for car repair. Besides this site is a
wonderful point for info.

After that then its on to the metal grade sanding/finishing papers
from about 220 till 1200 grit then on to polishing. and finally
waxing the working surface. This helps if you don’t use them on a
regular basis. Since depending on the condition it can take 6 to 8
hours from paper weight to shining steel former.

Been there and still doing them, and only 3 milk crates to go

I have always cleaned up my hammers and stakes by hand, I use a
rough file and then work down to the smoothest. I then polish with
stainless “graystar” polish. I would stay away from using anything
motorized as you can grind down too far and then be unable to add
material. Hand filing may be time consuming, but stakes and hammers
are expensive and you want to keep them as clean and polished as

I give you this after having had a fire and all my
stakes and hammers had so much rust on them you could cry. I had
them cleaned by Allcraft in NY and Tevel had someone hand file them
down. Just be extremely careful with anything fast and electric.

Jennifer Friedman
Ventura, CA

Try navel jelly, It’s available in any hard ware store paint it on,
let it sit, wash it off. It works wonders, only attacks the rust no
change of the original surfaces. Dave

I have found that a 3-M Scotch-Brite light deburring wheel is great
for removing surface rust from hammers, stakes, etc. It is quick and
will also remove surface scratches leaving the surface ready for

Joel Schwalb


If you are going to use power tools for significant amounts of work
on your hammers and stakes, do it under the protection of good
filtration. If you don’t, your studio, your nose, and your lungs
will be coated with a fine red/brown dust. I often make stakes for a
specific project and have messed up my studio several times before I
realized the problem. If you don’t need to remove much material,
skip the heavy sanding/grinding equipment and start with hand filing
(if you just need to remove 1/16 of an inch or so).

For my rough shaping, I use a 4" belt sander to take off lots of
material fast. It also throws up lots of dust, so I built a
collection hood at the end of it that I connect to a 6 hp shop vac.
It seems to work pretty good. Once I have 80% of the material
removed that needs it, I switch to a files to do the final shaping.
I use two. First is a coarse, double cut, bastard file and then I
switch to a mill file (single cut). Don’t use your jewelry files,
they are small and will take a lot of time. Go to your local, big
box, hardware store and buy both of those files from them in 10" or
12" versions.

To sand and polish, I use a good hood with built in filtration. The
filters last for about 1 stake before they have to be changed. (buy
pleated filters at the hardware store and cut them to size - they
work much better than they spun filters that come with the polishing
hoods.) I sand with buffing wheels like jewelers use for bobbing
compound or tripolis, but I use the Rio, “Quick Finish” series of
sanding compounds. (I tried Lea, but Quick Finish is easier to apply
and works slightly better) Most people overlook Quick Finish in the
vast Rio catalog, but they are the first item listed on the page
with polishing compounds. They come in 80, 220, and 400 grits. I use
a separate wheel for each. They work very fast. They come in a tube,
(which should be closed when not being used because they dry out),
and they should be applied to the wheel as it spins down after the
switch is turned off. (otherwise, they will not stick and the
sanding compound will be thrown off) Use each grit until you can not
see the scratches from the previous grit. Once you have sanded thru
the 400 grit, you can either stop there or polish the steel,
depending on what the hammer/stake will be used for. I use
"Stainless Steel Compound", made by Matchless and available from
Allcraft. It comes in a white bar and is used just like Tripoli. It
cuts the 400 grit marks off fast and leaves a high polish (cuts fast
and leaves a high polish seems like a contradiction but it does).

To do maintenance on your hammers and stakes, just jump into the
above sequence and work till the end of it, depending how badly you
dinged the tool up.

Mitch Adams

I haven’t followed this thread very closely so forgive me if I
repeat something that has been said before.

If you have a pair of rusted pliers (I know, it ain’t a hammer or a
stake,) that doesn’t move very well anymore because of rust in the
joint, ultrasonic as much rust as you can out of it, blow out some
more with your steamer, then spray some of that diamond stuff for
sharpening gravers on a GRS turntable thingy into it and work the
pliers vigorously. That diamond spray is really amazing at loosening
up many tight things like new pocket knives and new cheaper
watchbands. (rinse it off with ultrasound & steam!) It doesn’t work
well on removing coffee stains from your teeth though & tastes


If you are going to use power tools for significant amounts of
work on your hammers and stakes, do it under the protection of good
filtration. If you don't, your studio, your nose, and your lungs
will be coated with a fine red/brown dust. 

Yep. When I was at Arrowmont the studio assistant was sanding all the
stakes, not wearing a mask at all – so he could keep smoking. The
dust created a spot on his lung, which then collapsed.


Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

Diamond spray...It doesn't work well on removing coffee stains
from your teeth though & tastes horrible! 

Sounds like a recipe for removing the enamel from your teeth…bad

Richard Hart

If you have tools with a very light coating of rust or light
pitting, a pencil eraser can do wonders. It isn’t the solution to
all rust problems, but worth a try, especially because there’s
usually a pencil close at hand. This solution is nontoxic and
doesn’t damage the tool. My dad collected firearms and he used this
trick to remove light rust without damaging the bluing on the