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Thread: Cleaning Old Tools

  1. #1
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    Question Cleaning Old Tools

    Hi, I hope this is the right forum category for my question, so I apologise if it isn't (I'm new to this one!). I have some old doming punches which are rather rusty, so need cleaning. So, my question is - what is the best way of getting them nice and shiny again? I had a similar problem with some planishing blocks (sometimes called anvils or plates, I'm not sure of the official name!) but as they were flat could use buff paper. Any advice? Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Some very fine wet and dry paper with a spot of machine oil gets all the rust off and gently gets out any pits that the rust has made.

    You should always leave a very thin smear of machine oil on metal tools to prevent rust or wrap them in an oily cloth.

    My planishing block is wrapped in an old tea towel that I wiped the original machine oil off with and it keeps it all nice and shiny and rust free

  3. #3
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    Smile Thanks

    I shall certainly give that a go, I have quite a few punches, so it'll be my mission to do at least two a day! Thanks again.

  4. #4
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    What I use depends upon how rusty they are...

    Seriously rusty - scrape all the loose stuff off. Paint scraper, dull knife blade, whatever works.

    which leads to...

    Fairly rusty - a dunk overnight or as long as it takes in something like Hammerite Rust Remover (phosphoric acid is much more effective, but this stuff is more pleasant to work with).

    leading on to...

    Pitted? File or sand out pits if they affect the use of the tool (for doming punches, they will on the business end). Take them up to 320 or 600 grit (European) with wet & dry. Use a soft backing to the paper like a mousepad for rounded surfaces.

    The rust remover will convert rust to Fe2O3, which is more stable (and tends to come off on your hands...). Kind of a tarnish.

    Tarnished tools - or from 600 grit - I usually clean up with a combination of a sisal wheel mop and Abramax Steelcut, but there are plenty of other combinations that will work. This is quite aggressive, even on steel... I follow that with Tripoli then Dialux green. For some stuff, the last 2 abrasives are overkill, but it is nice at times to put a mirror-bright finish on.

    At the end of it, the tool is nice and shiny again.

  5. #5
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    I wondered ahy all the tools I ordered initially were coated in oil!
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  6. #6
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    The problem with coating tools in oil is that everything else quickly becomes coated in oil too. A wax polish is a better thing to use IMO; Renaissance Wax is a good one (google it - beats my parroting it!). Additional tools like a vapour phase inhibitor (VCI Toolguard is one) that lives in a toolbox is useful; I use Sentry Tuff Cloths on a lot of things, like hammers.

    It's less effort to keep the rust off than remove it later

  7. #7
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    Thanks that is really useful. I shall be adopting those practices as my tools are so precious to me.

  8. #8
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    great advice peter on rusty tools ...

  9. #9
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    No problem.

    I also run a dehumidifier in my workshop (as there's no damp-proof course); it all helps.

    It also gives me a ready supply of distilled water.

    Another abrasive I use from time to time is linishing compound from Axminster - you use it on a stitched mop and it is very, very effective. I'd never seen a buffing wheel throw a shower of sparks before!
    Last edited by ps_bond; 21-07-2009 at 09:47 AM.

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