How to remove rust and protect your items against it

You don’t need to throw away your rusted tools. Using a few dust removal products will make them like new again.

I bought an old, rusted table saw at a local auction. It was a great deal, but I was afraid the rust was in too deep. Luckily, the condition of the table was actually better than it looked on the outside.

Derusting

We’ve got a few options that will help restore our rusty items. I usually combine all of them as everyone has its strengths and weaknesses.

Start with a wire brush

Start with cleaning the item and removing loose rust with a wire brush. Scrub with it until all you have left is the hard surface rust.

Rust dissolver

There are chemical removers that can neutralize rust and, given time, dissolve it. My favorite rust dissolver is the Naval Jelly.

Henkel 553472 16OZ NAVAL JELLY, 16 Fluid Ounce
Removes rust from metal surfaces and removes bluing from surfaces such as guns, reels, etc. Remove loose scale with coarse sandpaper or wire brush. Apply Naval Jelly liberally to rusty surface that is free of dirt, oil and grease. Wipe off immediately from painted surfaces. Allow to work for 15 to 30 minutes and rinse off. Repeat application on heavily corroded surfaces. Limit application time to 5 minutes when used on chrome or other plated surfaces

It’s a slimy goo which you apply to the rusted areas and let sit for twenty minutes.

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Remember to always wear protection when you’re dealing with chemicals.

After the time passes, you should remove the rust with a wire brush and wipe your item off with a rag. The amount removed by the dissolver depends on how deep the rust was.

Sanding the rust

Using a simple surface sander can be effective in removing surface dust. Be sure not to press too hard or work on one spot too long or you will make the surface uneven.

Start with 200 grit sandpaper and switch to finer grits with time until you polish the surface entirely.

Spray the surface with WD-40 from time to time to make your work easier.

Sale −7%
WD-40 Multi-Use Product with SMART STRAW SPRAYS 2 WAYS, 14.4 OZ [2-Pack]
Drives out moisture and quickly dries out electrical systems to eliminate moisture-induced short circuits

Stripping pad

You can use a furniture stripping pad soaked in your rust dissolver to remove the rust efficiently. Stripping pads are very effective at removing rust because of their structure. You will still probably need to polish the surface with a fine paper to finish it off.

Rivet cleaning disc

A rivet cleaning disc mounted on a handheld drill is an effective method of removing dust. The disc consists of layers of flexible abrasive discs.

It’s useful if you need to remove rust from a very large area, as it works the fastest out of all the methods presented here.

Scotch-Brite Rivet Cleaning Disc, 4 Inches x 1 1/4 Inch, Medium
Rivet cleaning disc sands and cleans around rivets

Rust eraser

A rust eraser is essentially a weird block of rubber which you can use to remove rust. It works by releasing silicon carbide particles that react with rust. It’s kind of a rust-rubber.

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They come in different grits for removing rust on many kinds of surfaces.

Rust Eraser - Single
Package length: 1.524 cm

Protection from rust

Are we rust free? Great! There’s only one problem. A polished metal combined with moisture and time equals new rust.

There are two quick tricks we can use to prevent that from happening. These operations should be repeated every 6 months.

Anti-rust coating

Spray-on coats work by going deep into the metal to keep the humidity out. It’s a pricey option so I typically just use it on my smaller items. It’s very easy to apply and it evaporates fast.

WD-40 one is great.

WD40 300035 Specialist Corrosion Inhibitor Spray - 6.5 oz.
The formulation in this corrosion inhibitor helps coat metal parts to lubricate and protect against rust and corrosion

Waxing

The cheapest way to prevent metal surfaces from rusting is rubbing simple floor wax on them. You can get it anywhere and a can will last you forever. Let it dry out well after applying.

Minwax 785004444 Paste Finishing Wax, 1-Pound, Natural
Minwax Paste Finishing Wax protects and adds hand-rubbed luster to any finished wood surface.

About the author

All my life, I enjoyed doing things with my hands and interacting with nature. I'm a self-taught carpenter, an angler, a hunter, an outdoorsman, an engineer, and an avid hiker. Not as agile as I was in my former years, I've decided to spend more time putting my experiences on paper.

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