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Rusty tools

Hello, I bought some rusty tools from an estate sail. Some were in
very bad shape, but a lot were lightly coated with rust. I like the
older tools. What is your favorite way to bring back rusty tools to
usefulness. Thanks
Steve Ramsdell

Steve, Send them to RIO GRANDE. They have a great reconditioning
program for used tools.

Steve, I buy lots of tools from estate auctions, especially old
watchmaker tools. For the rusty steel ones I soak them in naval jelly
for a day or 2, use the bench grinder for any stubborn rust and then
head for the buffing/polishing machines. They look like new.

Jim Marotti
Lancaster, TN


When I have rust problems I use two hardware store products which
contain phosphoric acid. They are called Ospho and Naval Jelly. Ospho
can be dipped or sprayed and Navel Jelly can be squirted on or rubbed
on. they remove rust and leave a white or grey phosphate coating which
can then be buffed off. Then for large pieces of steel I undercoat
with zinc primer and paint. for tools I just oil well, grease or use
vasaline as is appropriate.


There was recently an extensive thread about cleaning rusty tools on
news:rec.crafts.metalworking the most popular method disicussed was to
totaly imerse the tools in a saturated solution of vinegar and salt
for a few days and then clean and dry them thoroughly after removing
them. The other method mentioned was to soak them in Coca Cola. Don’t
know about that one, but the salt and vinegar works well. Just be sure
they are COMPLETELY submerged, otherwise you will get
apermanant line at the point where the waterline is.

check at ,inthier archives or ask in their forum I saw
a method using a salt water bath, battery charger and pieces of
stainless as an anode, used by tool collectors to clean and refurbish tools

Steve, I clean up old rusty tools by first using a liberal coat of
"Naval Jelly" …a rust remover that can be purchased at just about
any hardware store. Be careful…that stuff is caustic…wear rubber
gloves and protect your eyes. Let the Jelly work for about 30 minutes
and then rinse with running water. Usually one coat will take off 80%
or so of any rust. If necessary use another coat. Then sand lightly
and use a light oil. I have restored tools that others had thrown
away as worthless and use them for our students at the Gem and Mineral
Society. Good luck.

Don at The Charles Belle Studio where simple elegance IS fine

I can let this pass wihout giving a comment,but please read all the
comments about environmental subjects on this forum and then I hope
you realize what you are cleaning with “JUST” running water !!! Ask
the real good hardware store how you can neutralize this very caustic
product before you dump it down the drain and who knows they may come
up with an much better idea. Regards Pedro


Sorry to disagree, but Naval Jelly is not caustic. Caustic chemicals
have a basic pH, above 7 the higher the number up to 14 the more
caustic. Naval Jelly is an acid, phosphoric acid to be exact. So it is
acidic, with a pH below 7.

When you put it on rusty steel it neutralizes itself in large part to

The acid in navel jelly is the same phosphoric acid you drink in
watered down form in many cola beverages, which is why science
teachers like to demonstrate how these beverages can dissolve tacks
and the like.

Yes it can put out fumes and yes it can cause problems in the eyes or
an open cut but it is not as bad as pickle solution IMHO. When I use
it I wash it off using the garden hose, generally in a flower bed
where phosphate loving and iron loving plants can get its benefit,
except when I’m phosphating something so big I have to waste the stuff
onto the lawn. Lots of running water means more plants can get the
effect, but I don’t waste it on the neighbors’ plants. Let them buy
their own fertilizer.

Agreed it shouldn’t go down the drain but that is just because too
much phosphate in the sewage treatment plant causes algae overbloom in
downstream water. However one single farmer fertilizing one single
acre of irrigated corn will probably dump more phosphate downstream
than you and ten other jewelers will use in a lifetime ofcleaning
their little tools. A farmer fertilizing a section (1square mile) of
corn will probably dump enough phosphate in the water to clean every
rusty jeweler’s tool in North America for ten years. IMHO


As a farmer, I have lots of tools that are used under adverse
conditions. A lot of the time tools are hurriedly tossed back into the
tool box or in the back of the pickup and found later to be covered
with rust. What I have found that works the best to restore them is a
spray can of Fluid Film. Spray it on and rub with a cloth. It is a
rust and corrosion preventive, penetrant and lubricant. My neighbor
sprays his plow shares with this and leaves them out all winter with
no rust! This is really amazing stuff. I coat my tools in the tractor
toolbox that is out in the weather year-round and the tools stay rust
free. As far as I know you will be able to get it only at a John Deere
dealer (Green tractors). Just go in to the parts desk and ask for
Fluid Film.

The corn and garden got hailed out yesterday and we are under a
warning now for 2" hail tonight. Just another day on the farm. Rx

Tongue River Farm