Rusty tool (no really) - bring back to life?
February 28, 2014 8:49 AM   Subscribe

I have a bag of old tools that have gotten rusty. Like this image. The moving parts are semi-seized up. Clearly on something like a hammer it's not a big deal, but please how do I revive them all back to nice and useable condition? I'm hoping there's some magic oil that I soak them in and it solves all my problems? Thanks
posted by Xhris to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

I'd suggest electrolysis.
posted by bradf at 8:52 AM on February 28, 2014

Penetrating oil (WD-40 is one) and a steel brush.
posted by clavicle at 8:54 AM on February 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

steel wool and wd-40, motor oil, grinder/sharpener.

Tools look salvageable, but you'll need to put some elbow grease into cleaning them off.

For joints that are stuck, try motor oil, wd40, penetration oil or sewing machine oil. Want something lite to get into the mechanism.

For surfaces, needs to scrape rust off, and steel wool (with some oil lubricant) helps.
posted by k5.user at 8:54 AM on February 28, 2014

Polishing with steel wool will remove the rust. It will take a little elbow grease. After most of it is off (there will always be a little left in the pits), apply a little mineral oil. And don't store them in a humid place.
posted by beagle at 8:54 AM on February 28, 2014

I had heard about naval jelly for years and finally tried it last year. It took a couple of applications but worked really well.
posted by kuppajava at 9:37 AM on February 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Those look nice, especially the nippers and little adjustable wrench. Assuming you're not concerned with antique value:

For the tools without an edge, I'd buff them with a fine wire wheel on a grinder. The hand version of that is a wire brush with penetrating oil thrown on for good measure.

More penetrating oil for the joints of the pliers and scissors and nippers. The scissors will be the toughest to really make useful. Most nonrusty scissors are dull. If they are pitted, they really won't do much without a regrind.

Soaking in light acid solutions will handle light rust gracefully but it takes patience, like many days. Maybe 1:1 water:vinegar or water:phosphoric acid (sold as various surface prep products at hardware store). You can go with stronger acids but they leave the surface more damaged.
posted by werkzeuger at 9:39 AM on February 28, 2014

When you're done removing the rust, store them in a bucket of clean, dry sand. (My dad's idea.)
posted by Carol Anne at 9:46 AM on February 28, 2014

I'd use a green abrasive pad to clean off the surface rust (warning do not use any kind of abrasive on the interior surfaces of the shears).

I'd use wd-40 to loosen up any moving parts. Might need a good soak if heavily rusted.

I'd then try to remove as much of the WD-40 with a cloth and compressed air as I could (mostly because I hate the smell). Then oil the moving parts with a light coating of mineral oil (baby oil).

Finally I'd spray the tools with Boeshield / Dri-Cote or similar drying protectant spray.

Storing tools in sand seems like a bad idea. Many sands are hygrosopic and the sand is going to get into oiled moving parts.
posted by Mitheral at 11:24 AM on February 28, 2014

Vinegar is very cheap and will work well on the scissors. Soak them overnight and then scrub them and rinse with baking soda and water, then oil them.
posted by bonobothegreat at 2:19 PM on February 28, 2014

Evapo-rust. You can get it at Horrid Freight (Harbor Freight) among other places. It's a liquid, pour some in a container and dunk the tool for a day or so. It won't carry away metal like grinding/polishing etc, it only removes the rust.
posted by rudd135 at 7:09 PM on February 28, 2014

I had this same problem with a pair of wirecutters a few weeks ago—my wife had left them outside for four months. I soaked them overnight in white vinegar and they were magically restored. I was very impressed.
posted by waldo at 2:14 PM on March 2, 2014

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