Cleaning rusty plane blades

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  • #680933
    Jukka Huuskonen
    Participant

    Hi,

    first time cleaning up a rusty plane blade. Any tips on the case like in pics? Is just sanding the rusty parts enough, or do I need to use some rust removing agent on blades? What about the screw holding them together?

    DSC_0627

    DSC_0628

    #680940
    Darren
    Participant

    Hi,

    I’ve restored quite a few old planes and tools.

    My best successes were with Citric Acid and Evaporust.

    Sandpaper and wire wheels will work, but it won’t get out deep rust so the rust comes back more quickly with that method.

    CA can pit some metals though (most of what I have done has been fine), so I’d recommend Evaporust if you can justify the spend.

    Cheers

    Darren.

    #680941
    Darren
    Participant

    Also, lots of people have great success with Electrolysis, although I have yet to try it.

    Electrolysis takes longer, and is more hazardous than CA or Evaporust.

    #680958
    Austin Conner
    Participant

    In this particular case, I’d start with a wire hand brush to knock off all that surface rust and then use a rust removal bath of some kind. I’d avoid a wire wheel in your case; those maker marks look pretty interesting and I’d try to preserve them as best possible personally.

    Sandpaper could get difficult at the top of that iron where it looks like a previous user peened or wrenched the top over.

    Another product you may have access to is WD-40 Rust Remover Soak. I’ve had good luck with it and it isn’t as caustic as some other products on the market. No special considerations for the screw, just throw it in the rust bath with the rest.

    #680961
    Colin Scowen
    Participant

    Personally I use wire wool with oil for mine. That way even if I miss some rust in the pitting areas, or at the top of the blade where the previous users have been adjusting it with the hammer, it is still coated. Threads I’ll usually clean manually with a wire brush. That being said, the business end of the iron and cap seem to have been looked after, so it may be that you don’t need to do too much to them.

    Colin, Czech Rep.

    #681101
    Jukka Huuskonen
    Participant

    Thanks guys,

    I don’t much like playing with chemicals if possible, because I’m living in a quite small apartment and don’t have a dedicated workshop. So a guess I’ll have to go shopping for the wire brush (yes, I don’t have one…).
    All I had was steel wool soap pads. I tried them and they did take most of the rust out. I Wiped the blade clean, dried thoroughly and oiled it with camellia oil to prevent re-rusting. Maker marker does show quite nicely now.
    I don’t need them to be shiny and bright, I just want them to be clean and usable 🙂

    -Jukka

    #681151
    Darren
    Participant

    Citric Acid and Evaporust are both safe solutions, and in fact CA is used in food.

    Neither should give off any bad gasses.

    Once you are finished with CA you can just pour the dirty solution down the sink. Evaporust can be reused a few times.

    I mean, the solution will be FILTHY but it will be safe.

    I find the best disposal method is to do it when my wife is out. 😂

    #681152
    Darren
    Participant

    This sort of thing:

    #681155
    Jukka Huuskonen
    Participant

    Ah, language barrier proved too strong here. Sure, we do have citric acid usually at home. We use it to clean washing machine and dishwasher.

    Any advice on ratio of acid and water?

    #681186
    Darren
    Participant

    😂 I put in about 6 heaped scoops (tablespoons, maybe a bit bigger) for a bucket of water.

    Use water that is very hot, but not boiling.

    You should see bubble start to come off the pieces after 30-60 minutes.

    Lightly rusty things might be good after a couple / few hours, while really rusty things might need 12 or more.

    When the rust is gone you will be left with a thick black coating, scrub that off with a wire brush.

    When the pieces come out, rinse in clean water, dry thoroughly, then coat in oil (e.g. 3-in-1).

    If you don’t put the oil on you’ll get flash rust within 30 minutes.

    I usually come back and finish things off with a scotchbrite wheel on my drill to polish up.

    Here is a link to my Instagram where I cleaned up some brace bits using the above process:

    https://www.instagram.com/p/CDw9d6ODnyw/?igshid=1brk6ap10rrf9

    Cheers

    Darren.

    #681210
    Peter Fitzpatrick
    Participant

    White vinegar (acetic acid) also works well as a rust-removal bath, and it’s very cheap from our local supermarket. I usually soak things in it overnight, and rinse them off in clean water afterwards so that the acid doesn’t keep on eating.

    #681234
    Colin Scowen
    Participant

    Coca Cola, containing phosphoric acid, could also be used. Just don’t drink it afterwards.

    Colin, Czech Rep.

    #681503
    Josh Swimley
    Participant

    I’ve had success using corrosion inhibitor spray and 400 grit sanding cloth. It does a pretty good job of removing light to moderate rust while leaving the patina. The rust inhibitor should also help prevent rust forming in the future.

    After looking into the citric acid method that tenjin posted I will definitely try it on some heavily rusted pieces, thanks!

    #681651
    Jukka Huuskonen
    Participant

    Hi, here is how the blade looks like after a night in vinegar, applying some steel wool soap pads, oiling with camellia oil and then sharpening the blade. And I did reapply the oil after sharpening.

    I haven’t started with the chip breaker yet. I’ll need to get more steel wool and a wire brush.

    I am just having problems with reaching the edge of the blade after lowest grit diamond plate. The last 1-2 mm from the edge on both sides seemed to be hard to smooth down. The blade does look quite nice now with the makers mark and all 🙂

    DSC_0630

    #682501
    sanford
    Participant

    Looks like someone has been pounding that blade. I have seen that once in a while and have always wondered. Did someone try to adjust it using a hammer the way you adjust an iron in a wooden bodied plane! Or maybe they used it like a wedge to split fire wood? Just curious.

    Any way, a while ago I tried, with success, a suggestion from Fine Woodworking. Gallon of white vinegar with a cup of salt (scale up or down depending on size of object). I left it for a few days and then scrubbed with a 3m pad and maybe a wire brush. Fine Woodworking suggests ending with a bath in water and baking soda (same proportions) to neutralize the acid. I did that but am not sure how important that last is. End by polishing with some 0000 steal wool. Obviously, if you live in one of those strange places where water actually lives in the air (I think they call it “humidity,” not something I have to deal with where I live) you might add some sort of oil to protect the metal after derusting, as others have suggested.

    One more thing, though not relevant to a plane blade. If you remove rust from, say, a plane body with japanning on it, rust removal can damage the japanning. I think what happens is that the removal process can remove rust under the japanning so the japanning just lifts off and peals away. That happened to a small plane I derusted using electrolysis. I assume it can happen with other forms of derusting too. No I do not recommend the electrolysis: it worked but was more trouble than it was worth in my opinion, especially given how effective every other suggestion is given by folks here.

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