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Rusty, rusty tools/bulk polishing

Hello, List! I am a new (just a few weeks now) subscribee who is
thoroughly enjoying the amazing scope of knowledge I’m absorbing
from the list. I’m a circumstantially (repetitive stress injuries in
both wrists)-lapsed jewelry person who, after about 10 years of
inactivity, now finds herself unemployed and extremely excited to
get back to the workbench.

Unfortunately, during my hiatus, I kept my toolbox in the kitchen
(don’t ask) and nearly all my tools are covered in rust. Before I
take the dremel to them & attempt to get rid of the rust that way,
does anyone have any tips for a better way to bring them back from
the undead? (I first considered just attacking them with steel wool,
but as my wrists are still quite sensitive I try to avoid as much
manual labor as possible…especially when it’s unnecessary).

As a side note on the manual labor issue, a large part of what has
prevented me from getting back to the bench sooner is the finishing
process…my wrists simply cannot handle the painstaking and
laborious sandpapering process required. I’ve read with interest the
recent threads about bulk polishers…I never even got far enough in
my work to know there was such a thing! Can they be used for the
entire process, or just at the end? I just rcv’d the Rio Grande
catalog yesterday…yummy!..and wonder if any of you could advise
me on a bulk polishing system for very small quantities of work; at
this point, I’m only producing for myself so wouldn’t ever need to
finish more than one piece at a time. I would, however, like the
ability to finish both flat and detailed surfaces, and would like to
use the system straight from the bench; i.e. no preliminary sanding
(or filing? Does this method eliminate the need to file edges as
well?) required before using the system.

Please feel free to write me directly if these questions are too
basic for the list! I’ve been digging through the archives a bit,
but if anyone can point me to specific posts they might have up
there that would be great too.

Thanks in advance, and for inspiring me so much over the past few
weeks! I’m itching to get working again!

-Jessica (in SF)

try “bartenders friend” it has something in it designed for removing rust

Before resorting to hand sanding of these tools I would try a
commercial rust remover from a hardware store. Maybe Navy or is it
Naval Jelly?

Marilyn Smith

If you check the archives. I believe this topic was covered in 2000
and 2001. However, you could just soak them all in a bath of Navel
Jelly (available at the hardware store).

Hi Jessica; There are others here who can advise you on mass
finishing methods (what you call bulk polishing). But as to the rust
issue, before you start to oil up the tools, consider using
electricity to strip off the rust. I recently posted a desciption of
the process on this forum, and you can read the article in the
archives. Here’s the link:

David L. Huffman

judy , i use two different products for rusty tools… one a product
called Wink i get at grocery store and the other is liquid wrench
also a gs buy…soak for a few minutes then use elbow grease and
scotch brite pads ( read directions on wink i’m not sure what it is
but works better for rust than any thing i’ve use before…)I DO NOT
USE THEM TOGETHER!!! lisa mcconnell

Hi All, I just wanted to tout the wonders of David Huffmans rust
removal, and thank him again for sharing such a wonderful tip. When
he posted this neat trick last year, I shared it with my husband and
he quickly put it to work. I’m telling you the results are just
short of miraculous! My husband has just about de-rusted everything
he can get his hands on. Things that were rusted beyond recognition
now look like new! He calls it his “Rusterater”. No scrubbing just
let the rust fall off like magic. Now if we can just figure out a
way to find a tub big enough to drive our old Ford truck into…

Here is the site

God Bless

The active ingredient in Barkeepers friend is oxalic acid for
removing rust. I know that rockhounds use it in cleaning specimens
(Quartz especially) and I’ve seen it available at rock shows in
baggies. Good luck Dan Wellman

I just wanted to tout the wonders of David Huffmans rust removal,
and thank him again for sharing such a wonderful tip. 

Somehow I failed to recognize the significance of this post when it
first came through! Thanks for waking me up, Poppy! :wink: I set this
up today and am happily and patiently derusting my bracelet mandrel
as we speak! And in an environmentally friendly way that’s nearly

Two questions:

  1. What is the gas given off by the bubbles? I’m guessing oxygen,
    since we’re removing iron oxide. Is this a safe, or correct

  2. If I don’t want to eat away the clamps by getting them in the
    water, I guess I could wrap the article, like a dapping punch, in
    copper wire which was then attached to the clamp? Worth a try, I

Three questions:

  1. What is this process called? Electrolysis? What’s happening on a
    molecular level? Is the iron being transferred from the negative
    anode to the positive? Would it eventually start eating or etching
    the tool itself if left in there long enough?

Thanks Poppy, and David!


Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)