My typical go-to method for removing rust from old tools is simply to dunk them in vinegar and leave them alone overnight. The problem here was the size of the object. I briefly considered purchasing a Rubbermaid container large enough to allow the use of vinegar but that’s how things get crazy restoring tools. First, you get a good deal on an old tool, saving yourself hundreds of dollars. Second, you spend hundreds of dollars getting the old tool cleaned up and in working order. I was determined to steer clear of that path.
I started with WD-40 as a mild cleaner to remove surface rust and gunk. Then I cleaned all of that up with acetone. Once dry, I covered it in Naval Jelly. Naval Jelly is nothing more than phosphoric acid* suspended in a gel to help it stick to a surface longer. Phosphoric acid is non-toxic (your dentist probably uses it to clean your teeth) so is good to use when the kids are around. However, the type I used was bright pink; it drew my kids like gnats to July roadkill.
Like vinegar, Naval Jelly turns everything black and you can’t really tell how things look until you sand a little. The first round of Naval Jelly left things in pretty good shape. But since my focus this year was on learning, I thought I would try something else too. Enter Iron Out.
Iron Out is a household cleaner containing Sodium Hydrosulfite (the acid) and Sodium Metabisulfite (a food preservative). I figured that if it worked at removing the rust from my toilet it might clean a saw plate too. It comes in powdered form, so I sprinkled a heavy coat across the saw plate and spritzed it with a water bottle. Then I let it sit until the foaming bubbles ceased to form (I have to admit this was fun to watch).
Like vinegar and Naval Jelly, Iron Out turns everything black and you can’t really tell how things look until you sand a little. I sanded using 120 grit paper until the plate was a consistent dull gray. I’m confident that the plate is now ready to be polished.
If you are interested in learning more about rust removal check out a great series of blogs by Mike at Working by Hand.
*I got a kick out of reading the labels and searching the internet for alternative uses. Much of the information I found came from Wikipedia, so I’m not guaranteeing any kind of accuracy; don’t go putting anything in your toothpaste.