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How to Reuse Rusty Tools

When exposed to any level of moisture (even humidity in the air) metal tools tend to rust and subsequently lose functionality. Using one of the following rust removal methods will let you restore and reuse rusty tools:

Penetrating Lubricant or Rust Remover + Scrub Pad

For slightly rusted tools, spray the affected area with a penetrating lubricant like WD-40, and then scrub with a heavy-duty Scotch-Brite pad. Do not use sandpaper as it is too abrasive and it will leave scratches. For tools that have a thicker rust build-up, use a spray-on rust remover like Rust Free, following the instructions on the bottle. After removing the rust you may want to apply a coating of a rust-inhibitor spray like Boeshield T-9, to prevent future rusting.

Rust Evaporating Solution Soak

Rusty tools that have hard-to-reach surfaces or components may need to be soaked in an evaporating solution like CLR (Calcium, Lime, Rust), Evapo-Rust, or Naval Jelly. These industrial strength rust removers can restore even the rustiest tools to like-new condition with minimal effort; simply follow the soaking instructions on the label and when the process is complete the rust will literally fall off – no scrubbing required. Note: These products are typically caustic, so it is imperative to adhere to safety warnings and precautions during use.

DIY Electrolyzer

An electrolyzer removes rust via the process of electrical conductivity. You can build a make-shift electrolyzer for about $40 using items that you can find at just about any supply store. These handy rust removal contraptions are preferable over the two aforementioned restoration methods because they don’t require you to use any caustic solutions or do any scrubbing, and once they’re built you don’t have to make any additional purchases. To summarize the process, you’d fill a bucket with a conductive solution, insert a few sacrificial anodes, hang the rusted item in the solution, attach the negative end of your power supply to the rusted item, and then attach the positive end of the power supply to the anodes. Here’s a detailed tutorial that shows you how to build a DIY electrolyzer.

If the surface of your tools have been severely deteriorated by rust they may be impossible to salvage. Specialty tool sets provide all-inclusive packages that contain replacements for just about every kind of common tool, and are therefore an ideal option for anyone trying to revamp their outdated hardware collection.

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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