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Thread: De-greasing, de-griming, and de-crudding old tools

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Indianapolis, Indiana
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    De-greasing, de-griming, and de-crudding old tools

    Some of the old drills I've started picking up have years worth of grease, grime, and general crud built up on them. I remember that my dad used gasoline to clean that sort of stuff off of anything made out of any type of metal. Naturally, I'd rather not use gasoline today, and I don't think that would be a good solution for handles or anything else made of wood anyway. So far I've been using denatured alcohol to clean both wood and metal parts, but I wondered if there are better methods -- effective, nontoxic, non-flammable. What do you use? Note that I'm not talking about rust -- that's a different problem -- just grease, oil, dirt, grime, etc.
    Last edited by Michael Ray Smith; 03-08-2012 at 4:24 PM.
    Michael Ray Smith

  2. #2
    Michael, I'm in the middle of rebuilding my first metal lathe atm and ran across something called Citristrip at Home Depot. It really has done a fine job, easy to use, and non-toxic. Just brush it on, let it set a while, use a plastic scraper or piece of wood to get the crud off then brass wire brush off with mineral spirits. Ammonia wiped on afterwards gets rid of the old oil stains.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dale Sautter View Post
    . . . ran across something called Citristrip at Home Depot.
    Thanks, Dale. Does it work on both metal and wood?
    Michael Ray Smith

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Warm water and dish soap (Dawn) seem to work pretty well for me on grease, oil, and crud. There are some heavier degreasing solutions which also work faster.

  5. #5
    If yr removing grime, you don't need a solvent, you need a surfactant (a soap) and a nylon wire brush.

    Simple Green, or dish washing detergent are great.

    You can use compressed air or a hair dryer to dry it after.
    Last edited by Prashun Patel; 03-08-2012 at 9:25 AM.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Ray Smith View Post
    Thanks, Dale. Does it work on both metal and wood?
    Apparently works pretty well for removing old finishes from old gunstocks from what I've read online, it just happens to also really make the grease/oil want to come off too.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Mild soap and (warm or hot) water and a stiff plastic bristle brush. Take the wooden parts off and do them separately. Dry off the plane when you're done with either paper towels or an old rag that doesn't need to be perfect.

    You don't really want to remove everything on a plane. You want to remove rust if you have to and slop.

    I remember Todd Hughes (who picks up tools and resells them) saying that he wouldn't even pick up a plane that had been chemically treated for rust, not even if it was a buck or two, because the people who will really pay for sweetheart era tools with patina and such have absolutely zero interest in a tool that's gray from chemical rust treatment.

    I didn't notice the difference that much at first, but the longer I go, the more a tool that's original appeals to my eyes. As a beginner, I liked bright and shiny with fresh machining. I think it looks tasteless now on an old tool, unless it's original condition, and once you strip that patina off, you're almost guaranteed to be chasing rust on virgin cast shortly after, and fresh cast pits fast.
    Unleaded tastes a little tangy, supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    I am currently restoring an old Emmert turtleback and it had a very impressive amount of grease and grime on it from years of use. I broke it down and took it to my local auto garage and had them run the parts through their parts cleaner. It is a pretty powerful substance and it did a pretty nice job. Certainly needs some additional cleaning but it got the bulk of it off. It took about an hour and cost ~$20 IIRC. That said, it had no wood parts on it and I don't know how wood would fare going through the process.
    Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.
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  9. #9
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    Krud Kutter from Lowes works great. Should be ok for wood. Works for gummed up saw blades also.
    Last edited by Dale Cruea; 03-09-2012 at 1:18 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Lexington, KY
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    I typically use one of the cheaper degreasers found in the auto parts section. They work really well and are cheaper than Simple Green.

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