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Thread: Problems Removing Rust From A Handplane

  1. #1
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    Question Problems Removing Rust From A Handplane

    I posted this in the General forum, but it was suggested I repost it here as well. Any help would be appreciated.

    I came across an opportunity to get my hands on a Stanley 4 1/2 that happened to have quite a bit of rust, and yes some pitting, for the low low price of $0.00. Well, despite the corrosion, it's hard to pass up a price like that. I have restored a few handplanes to usable condition before, and I know it can be labor intensive and this particular plane was in worse condition than any of the others. Well, I had heard about this product "Evapo-Rust", and read several rave reviews of it so I thought I'd give it a try. It was certainly easy enough to use and at first inspection, after soaking all of the parts overnight, it looked much better. However, as I was rinsing the parts off I became aware that everything looked, for lack of a better descriptive term, like aluminum. The surfaces all were this dull silvery grey color that looked nothing like cast iron. I tried scrubbing it off, then brushing it off, and even polishing it off. nothing seems to work. Worse yet, anything that the surface rubs across ends up with silvery grey streaks on it.
    Has anyone had a similar experience? Did I do something wrong. Although I don't know how I screwed up "soak overnight then rinse". Any suggestions on how to fix it?

    Here are some pictures:




    On a side note, it also seemed to accentuate the pitting. But, I knew there was some of that when I started and I can certainly live with it. The plane is unusable though, as long as it leaves streaks on everything.
    "I've cut the dang thing three times and it's STILL too darn short"
    Name withheld to protect the guilty

    Stew Hagerty

  2. #2
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    You've done nothing wrong

    After an Evaporust soak you need to clean off the soaked parts. I use Mineral Spirits. Then you need to scrub the surface with a scotchbrite or even a fine brass wire brush. I use a fine brass wire wheel brush installed in my lathe.
    Dominic Greco

  3. #3
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    Get a coarse and fine wire wheel for you grinder. It will look brand new in no time.
    Don

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dominic Greco View Post
    You've done nothing wrong

    After an Evaporust soak you need to clean off the soaked parts. I use Mineral Spirits. Then you need to scrub the surface with a scotchbrite or even a fine brass wire brush. I use a fine brass wire wheel brush installed in my lathe.
    Quote Originally Posted by Don Jarvie View Post
    Get a coarse and fine wire wheel for you grinder. It will look brand new in no time.

    I've wire brushed and scotch brited the heck out of it already. I've tried it wet & dry. I've also tried cleaning it with a variety of slovents including MS, Alcohol, and Lacquer Thinner.
    "I've cut the dang thing three times and it's STILL too darn short"
    Name withheld to protect the guilty

    Stew Hagerty

  5. #5
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    What you're seeing is just part of the process in chemical rust removal. I'm not aware of any chemical rust removal methods that don't etch the surface, and if a tool requires a lot of time to get the rust off, the etch will be worse. (maybe electrolysis isn't quite as bad, I haven't done it in a while. I can vouce phosphoric acid will really gray a surface).

    You can see the effect just by putting a thumbprint of phosphoric acid (cement etch) on bright metal, it's unavoidable.

    I personally would do what it takes to get the plane so that it doesn't release gray stuff on whatever you're planing, and then do a quick once-over with a brass wheel and call it good. If you can't get a brass wheel, then I would probably sand the large flat surfaces to try to get them to look a little better.

    you can also go the opposite direction and hit it with oxpho blue after you get the loose stuff off to hide the gray. It won't look like a vintage plane, but it's a better look (to me) than gray.

    On a plane that rusty, you don't really have a choice, but it's good to see what chemical rust removal does so that you're not tempted to use it on a plane that's got only a couple of spots of light rust.
    Unleaded tastes a little tangy, supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

  6. #6
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    Not just a 4-1/2 but a corrugated one? For free? Regardless of how much work you have to put into cleaning that up (within reason), that's a gloat!

    If you get tired of trying to clean it off, contact me...I can offer you a place to which to send it so it's not cluttering up your shop anymore...

    If the working surfaces of the iron are as pitted as the parts visible in your photo, do think about an aftermarket iron. While one will cost way more than you've got invested in the plane, the good ones make a noticeable performance difference.

  7. #7
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    I work at an Injection molding department, at a plastics factory. All the steel mold, with ice cold "water" flowing through them, AND the residuels from the plastics, leave a nasty surface to be cleaned. We have a "Citrius Mold Cleaner' spary in a can. Does work of all kinds of grime. Spray it on, let it soak a minute or two, and scotch-brite it clean. I took a can home, and tried it on some of MY planes, and one handsaw. Nice and clean, and shiny. Just be sure to wax the metal afterwards, as you'll be down to bare metal.

  8. #8
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    What you're seeing is simply the surface of the good metal that was under that rust before you removed it. EvapoRust is not supposed to attack the metal, and I've let things, including planes, soak MUCH longer than you did with no damage. All EvapoRust does is remove the rust; it doesn't turn the rust back into elemental metal. It also leaves a residue that has to be cleaned off by methods that others have already explained. But you didn't do anything to cause the damage to the surface of the metal itself. The corrosion process caused it before you ever got the plane.

    There is, however, one strange effect of EvapoRust that I've noticed and can't quite explain. After I've used it to clean chisels and other edge tools that have carbon steel inlays, the inlay is sometimes quite a bit darker than the other metal. But even then, the chemicals don't seem to cause any surface damage.
    Last edited by Michael Ray Smith; 03-08-2012 at 9:10 AM.
    Michael Ray Smith

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Ray Smith View Post
    There is, however, one strange effect of EvapoRust that I've noticed and can't quite explain. After I've used it to clean chisels and other edge tools that have carbon steel inlays, the inlay is sometimes quite a bit darker than the other metal. But even then, the chemicals don't seem to cause any surface damage.
    That is probably the effect that I am seeing. The metal is darker and duller than clean bare iron and the pits that were there from the rust are darker yet.
    "I've cut the dang thing three times and it's STILL too darn short"
    Name withheld to protect the guilty

    Stew Hagerty

  10. #10
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    I've noticed the same effect with Evaporust. I like using it, though you really have to protect the parts very soon after you pull it from the bath. I dunked a metal level into Evaporust and only half at a time would fit. I pulled out the cleaned side and turned it around to do the other half, and walked away. The cleaned side rusted up by the time I got back around to checking on it!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Green View Post
    I pulled out the cleaned side and turned it around to do the other half, and walked away. The cleaned side rusted up by the time I got back around to checking on it!
    I think that's called flash rusting. I've seen it when I've cleaned off the residue with soap and water without using anything else to protect against it. (After it happened a time or two, I started applying WD-40 after the water wash. I suspect cleaning with mineral spirits instead of soap and water would also prevent it.) If you leave the EvapoRust on, it's supposed to protect against flash rusting for at least a little while -- but apparently that doesn't always work!
    Michael Ray Smith

  12. #12
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    Great Thread, Have used EvapoRust also and have had good success with the rust removal and was very satisfied with that. Actually inherited a bunch of old hand tools when my dad passed away and some were in pretty poor shape. I actually started using some gun products that have rust prevention additives in them (I like the smell and less oily-ness of them) after the cleaning and it seems to work well. Still has the grey tone but am very happy at the loss of rust and being able to restore and use the tools. Will try some of the above suggestions and see what I think. Thanks guys.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Weaver View Post

    You can see the effect just by putting a thumbprint of phosphoric acid (cement etch) on bright metal, it's unavoidable.
    Just a note to those reading the thread - cement etch is generally not phosphoric acid - it's hydrochloric acid (often sold as "muriatic acid"). While any mineral acid will remove rust (and also some of the base metal, depending on which mineral acid), one should avoid using any preparation that contains chlorides/chlorine on steel.

    Chlorine has a very specific mode of action on steel that is different than the other mineral acids like sulfuric, nitric or phosphoric - it forms pits on steel surfaces that starts a corrosion process that is difficult to stop.

  14. Quote Originally Posted by Stew Hagerty View Post
    I posted this in the General forum, but it was suggested I repost it here as well. Any help would be appreciated.

    I came across an opportunity to get my hands on a Stanley 4 1/2 that happened to have quite a bit of rust, and yes some pitting, for the low low price of $0.00. Well, despite the corrosion, it's hard to pass up a price like that. I have restored a few handplanes to usable condition before, and I know it can be labor intensive and this particular plane was in worse condition than any of the others. Well, I had heard about this product "Evapo-Rust", and read several rave reviews of it so I thought I'd give it a try. It was certainly easy enough to use and at first inspection, after soaking all of the parts overnight, it looked much better. However, as I was rinsing the parts off I became aware that everything looked, for lack of a better descriptive term, like aluminum. The surfaces all were this dull silvery grey color that looked nothing like cast iron. I tried scrubbing it off, then brushing it off, and even polishing it off. nothing seems to work. Worse yet, anything that the surface rubs across ends up with silvery grey streaks on it.
    Has anyone had a similar experience? Did I do something wrong. Although I don't know how I screwed up "soak overnight then rinse". Any suggestions on how to fix it?

    Here are some pictures:




    On a side note, it also seemed to accentuate the pitting. But, I knew there was some of that when I started and I can certainly live with it. The plane is unusable though, as long as it leaves streaks on everything.
    I just gotta believe that at some point 100 grit is a better approach (or wire wheels) - at least on the parts that are readily accessible. Remove rust, knock down pitting, and then refine with higher grades for cosmetics if time allows.

  15. #15
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    Most likely a dumb question but have you tried lapping it to see if you get the color your looking for? I am going to keep an eye on this because I am about to restore a number 5(my first plane) but looking at what is the best way from bringing it back from life with at hurting it.

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