Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rust Removal

As I gathered together all the tools from the fifteen corners of the w'shop, one thing was abundantly clear - I had a lot of rust removing in my future. So I decided to take the plunge and try the Shield Technology Restore Rust Remover stuff that Matthew at Workshop Heaven's been plugging like it's going out of fashion. I've been curious to try it for some time, and figured I'd have plenty of opportunity to compare it to others methods I use... Thus I got a bottle each of Rust Remover and Rust Remover Gel in order to experiment.

First up, the Measuring and Marking box threw up four try squares in various stages of "Oh dear". Now soaking the wooden stock of a try square in undesirable, so it seemed like a good place to try the gel. So a 9", rosewood-stocked square from the Tool Chest is our guinea pig. First, we need to remove the coat of linseed oil that someone has ill-advisedly used to try and prevent the onset of rust. It hasn't, and leaves a nasty sticky residue that's particularly unpleasant to deal with.

Methylated spirits (denatured alcohol) and a scraper deal with that, in a messy but oddly satisfactory way.

Coupla minute's work, and 'tis done.

And the other side:

This side got the Restore treatment, as per the instructions. Viz:

"Apply gel to a foam backed scouring pad and gently rub the rusted surface for a few minutes until all the rust has disappeared, leaving a clean and bright surface. When all corrosion has been removed, scrub under running water and dry thoroughly."

Which I duly did.

Well this wasn't the first square I did, in all honestly, so I'd already learnt that removing as much rust as possible before using the gel made a lot of difference, but it still took quite a few of those minutes of gentle rubbing to get to this point. And yes, it is brighter, and it did do a pretty good job in clearing out the pitted areas of the orange stuff, but it still has that dullness to it you get from every other chemical form of rust removal. So I went over it was abrasive wrapped round a block anyway...

And here's the other side, done solely saw fashion, with abrasive wrapped round a block. It took fewer minutes than the gentle rubbing, and didn't need the rinsing, drying and then abrading-to-remove-the-grey. But it didn't get into the pitting.

Early days yet - still much more to try - but so far I'm inclined to stick to my feeling that cleaning things like saw plates and other flat bits of metal like square blades is quicker done with abrasive-rounda-block, and gives a nicer-looking result. But the gel is very handy for the pitting (which is what I had in mind when I ordered it). Next up, all being well, I hope to try the liquid version vs. citric acid.

Anyway, the results. From left to right: winding sticks from the coachbuilder's tools, which of cleaning up proved to be walnut rather than mahogany. And when I say cleaned up, I really mean planed square and true so I can use them. I even wondered about inlaying some contrasting boxwood or similar, but then thought they'd better stay a little true to their original appearance and repainted them instead. Then a 12" square from the same source (possibly ebony), 7" from the tool chest, the 9" guinea pig also from the tool chest, both rosewood, and finally a 6" mahogany stocked one from the coachbuilder again. (Amazingly, all the squares are actually square - yes, I checked that before I spent the time cleaning them...) Lastly, at the front, a rather nice and, to me, unusual panel gauge also from the tool chest. Its original matching rosewood wedge was just about clinging together as splinters, so I replaced it using boxwood from an old chisel handle. Well I figured it's not the original wedge, so why make it from the original wood? The original gave no appearance of having been of the captured variety, so I made the replacement pretty simple too.

The winding sticks and probably the 12" and 7" squares I'll keep (their blades have a few quirks which I can't see myself convincing anyone else to live with anyway) The panel gauge I'm in two minds about, and the other two squares will go in the "to go" box.

Hey, if I can keep this up and part with a third of all the tools, that'll be doing pretty well, no? No? No, maybe not...


  1. I see that one of the 12" squares is branded as an early product from 'WSH' - is Matthew older than he looks?

  2. Hee. Hadn't put two and two together there. Ah, Mr Hosken - very keen to make sure no-one walked off with his square. Wise man; it's a nice one.

  3. Any details available on the comfy looking blade scraper you are using? When I first looked at it, I assumed some sort of razor blade holder - but maybe the small upper piece is the blade rather than a holder? In any case it looks like it fit the hand nicely.

    Mike (not nearly as "organized")

  4. Mike, you assumed rightly; it is indeed a razor blade holder, named the Greenwatt Plane. 'Tis certainly a more comfortable proposition than a naked razor blade, although sometimes the thumb wheels can get in the way. Not a problem on saws though, which is where I use it most.

  5. I have had more success combining the abrasive method with the Rust Remover, particularly the gel. I give the rust remover a few minute's head start to work into any pitting, then use a mixture of 3M-type sheets and wet/dry sandpaper.


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