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Auger Bits restoration

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Regex

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Hi all

I was wondering if you could help me.

I recently acquired a retired carpenter's toolbox, and amongst the treasures therein were two rolls of brace bits.
They appear to be mostly WM Ridgway Center bits, with a couple of turnscrews and rosehead & snailhorn countersinks too. I have managed to use some already for a project and are a delight to use.

One of the rolls was in better nick, with the bits largely ok, but the other roll must have been damp at some point as a lot of the bits are rusty.

I was wondering if anyone could advise on how to restore and remove the rust without damaging them too much? I will likely sharpen them too.

Here are some pictures:
Rusty Augers 1.JPGRusty Augers 2.JPGRusty Augers 3.JPGAuger bits (ok).JPG

There are other tools in the box that I will attempt to restore over the winter, amongst them spanners, disston saws, an old 1/4" Aluminium Black & Decler Holgun and manual drills.

Many thanks.
 

Regex

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Do I then scrub with steel wool? (there are various grades, just use 0000 ?)
 

billw

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I use steel wool, wire brushes (gently!) and abrasives to clean them up afterwards. I sometimes give them a quick scrub after a few hours to get the bulk of the rust off, then put them back in for a final soak. After subjecting them to so much acid it can also help to give them a bath in baking soda to neutralise it.
 

Regex

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Thank you Bill, I will order the equipment I need and have a go.

I also just found this old thread here:

Unfortunately the images were missing, so I managed to track them down on the wayback machine (isn't the internet wonderful?) I will quote it in full below with the images updated.

I am afraid I can only attach 10 images at a time, so the post is split in three.

Part 1 of 3.

In my continued attempts to shove further victims down The Slope :twisted: , and as I've recently been dabbling in using citric acid for cleaning up tools, I though it might be of interest to some members to see the process. Non-galoots feel free to pass by; there's no evidence of real woodworking here. 😉

A 10” sweep J.A.Chapman ratchet brace and some solid centre or Irwin pattern bits were to be cleaned up ready for their new owner. The ratchet was seized, but the rest was not bad, even some plating still intact in places. The bits were largely in good condition, except for the 1” which I failed to spot was bent. #-o Not having a direct replacement spare, I swapped in a very crispy 3/16” instead. The bit roll was part of the deal too. It may be in rough condition, but it's better than nothing and this type seem to withstand the rust better than any other. A dunk or three in hot soapy water and you could at least bear to touch it without going yeuch... :lol:

cleaningbrace001.JPG

First task is to mix up the brew, and here are the vital ingredients. I went into some detail and chased up some links here, if you're want to try for yourself.

cleaningbrace002.JPG

I started on the bits first, knowing I didn't have time to give the brace the necessary bath before Tools '05. Here they lurk in the citric-y depths at about 3pm.

cleaningbrace003.JPG

9am the following day, and they've gone black and you can see the bubbles as the acid does its work. Time to fish them out.

cleaningbrace004.JPG

Here's one having had its shank scrubbed with a 360grit Webrax pad under the cold tap. Shiny, no? It was at this moment that I noticed the shank was bent and muttered more than somewhat in consequence...

cleaningbrace005.JPG

The absolute easiest way to clean up any tool IME, is to use the shoe-shine technique whenever possible. Auger bits lend themselves to it brilliantly, as long as you have a suitable way to hold them still. Here you can see where I've already been nearest the tang, while the pointy end is still to be done.

cleaningbrace006.JPG

A quick burst with a file to sharpen up the relevant edges, and there's nothing left to be done but see to the lead screws.

cleaningbrace007.JPG

IIRC, it's Galoot Tom Price who can claim credit for drawing this technique to the on-line world's attention. Time and again you find rusty, blunt, unhappy lead screws on auger bits, and it used to be there wasn't much you could do to help them. Here's what you do. Either procure some valve grinding paste or some other abrasive suspended in oil/grease/paste of some sort. I started out using the grit from one of those Japanese lapping kits and some 3-in-1 oil. It occurs to me I could have tried the diamond compound too. :-k Also required is one piece of scrap softwood and a working brace.

cleaningbrace008.JPG

Chuck the bit to be cleaned in the brace, and just start the lead screw into the softwood with a turn or two.

cleaningbrace009.JPG

One small and rusty hole; note the current state of the lead screw btw. I shall be expecting oohs and ahhs later... and not just 'cos it's in focus... :oops:

cleaningbrace010.JPG
 
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Regex

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Part 2 of 3:

Apply a small blob of your abrasive substance into the hole as well as you can.

cleaningbrace011.JPG

Start the lead screw back into its hole and turn it right into the wood. Backwards and forwards a little too, to really work that abrasive against the screw.

cleaningbrace012.JPG

Behold. One clean, sharp, beautiful lead screw. If one pass doesn't do the job well enough, don't hesitate to add more paste or make another hole. I was lucky in this case. To clean off the paste I've found on the large bits you can just keep boring and let the wood do the job. Smaller bits seem to often need a fresh hole though.

cleaningbrace013.JPG

Some holes later...

cleaningbrace014.JPG

... and 11 bits ready to go. After they've had a coat of wax to inhibit further rust formation, natch. No, they're not “like new”, but they'll work like new.

cleaningbrace015.JPG

See?

cleaningbrace016.JPG

So next the brace. Or rather braces. In the meantime I'd snagged a nice little 5” sweep one, so I figured I might as well clean that up at the same time. :oops: I decided a quick run using the existing solution to see how things would go was worth while, before I went hunting for a larger bath tub. :)

cleaningbrace017.JPG

Well that looked okay, so time to top up the mix and immerse them properly.
cleaningbrace018.JPG

Otherwise things are only partially covered, as you can see by the “high water” mark here.

cleaningbrace019.JPG

And here. But this part gave me an idea of whether the existing plating would be zapped off or not. But it's good stuff, and where it's still firmly attached, just fine. Looks a little dull though...

cleaningbrace020.JPG
 

Regex

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Part 3 of 3.

So I resorted to my old habits of sharp knife for cleaning out the knurling and wet'n'dry to impart a modicum of shine to the metal. I can't for the life of me remember where I picked up this tip, but a strip of duct tape on the back of paper-backed abrasives give them the necessary strength to cope with the shoe-shine technique.

cleaningbrace021.JPG

A little elbow grease later, and I'm quietly pleased.

cleaningbrace022.JPG

I didn't bother with the wet'n'dry on the 5 incher, as you can probably tell – particularly if you compare the chucks. The woodwork on both looks “not good” though.

cleaningbrace023.JPG

No lacquer present needing removal with scrapers, so I went straight to a fine-ish foam-backed abrasive pad and sanded with the grain. A tack cloth to clean up and then the metal surfaces adjoining the wood where masked off. It's no good telling myself I'll be careful; I always end up getting the finish where I don't want it if I don't make that extra effort. :roll:

cleaningbrace024.JPG

I used blonde de-waxed shellac on the handle of the 10” because the natural colour was so good, but garnet on the pad and the beech of the 5”. Wiped on, lightly sanded between coats.

cleaningbrace025.JPG

The finished set ready to be packed up and sent off. The ratchet works like a Swiss watch. :D

cleaningbrace026.JPG

Is citric acid the answer to all my tool cleaning tasks? Well it's a start, but I couldn't live with that dull look on some tools, so the wet'n'dry and elbow grease hasn't bitten the dust entirely yet. It certainly does speed up part of the process of cleaning bits, I must say. It also did a better job on the ratchet than I ever could. :roll:

Hope some of that might be of use to someone.

Cheers, Alf
 

Boringgeoff

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I don't think the business ends of your bits look that bad that you need to go to all that trouble. If they were mine I'd use the soft wire wheel to scrub off the rust, give them a sharpen, then lightly oil, or whatever preservative you prefer.
They may not need sharpening, as you said in your original post they "are a delight to use".
Cheers,
Geoff.
 

Awac

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Phosphoric acid absolutely the top rust remover in my mind. Dilute it (water first then add the phosphoric) at about 20%, drop what ever you want the rust off and come back in an hour. It only eats rust, not good metal. You can keep reusing it, you will know when its has lost its strength. Local farmers stores sell it as "Milkstone remover" for cleaning milking machines, or just order on ebay. About £20 for a gallon. 30% solution is ok.
It is an ingredient in Cola, it gives it a bitter taste, now that's food for thought next time you drink one....

As with all chemicals, read up, satisfy yourself and take precautions, gloves, eye glasses etc. This applies with finishing materials used with woodworking. Never take your safety for granted.
 

D_W

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Wire wheel and then oil or wax them. I normally like a deburring wheel for rust removal, but not around sharp arises or crisp edges that you need to have on a brace bit.
 

Regex

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Awac, phosphoric acid seems very promising, I've gone ahead and bought a gallon (30%) directly from Azure Liquid Solutions, cheaper than on Amazon/eBay. Got some latex gloves too, will post comparison results between household vinegar and phosphoric acid in a couple of days (y)

I don't think the business ends of your bits look that bad that you need to go to all that trouble. If they were mine I'd use the soft wire wheel to scrub off the rust, give them a sharpen, then lightly oil, or whatever preservative you prefer.
They may not need sharpening, as you said in your original post they "are a delight to use".
Cheers,
Geoff.
Wire wheel and then oil or wax them. I normally like a deburring wheel for rust removal, but not around sharp arises or crisp edges that you need to have on a brace bit.
I've yet to use most of them, will give them all a whirl once all cleaned up. I'm afraid it's all elbow grease for me as the only power tool I own is the old hand drill that I got in this job lot.
 

Awac

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Awac, phosphoric acid seems very promising, I've gone ahead and bought a gallon (30%) directly from Azure Liquid Solutions, cheaper than on Amazon/eBay. Got some latex gloves too, will post comparison results between household vinegar and phosphoric acid in a couple of days (y)




I've yet to use most of them, will give them all a whirl once all cleaned up. I'm afraid it's all elbow grease for me as the only power tool I own is the old hand drill that I got in this job lot.
It is amazing. I had a rusted up chuck that came with a sds drill I once bought, no movement. Dropped it in, came back next day and it span open. Just remember to add acid to water and not the other way around, any splashes are diluted (for really nasty acids it can react if you do it the other way around).
It is not the strongest acid, but I always treat anything like this with respect. It is what they put in those tint tubs of rust remover you see in car spare shops, but 10 times the price...you will be looking for things to drop in it. Vinegar is good, but you need the stronger stuff and time. Sharpens a file as well...good luck.
 

Awac

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Awac, phosphoric acid seems very promising, I've gone ahead and bought a gallon (30%) directly from Azure Liquid Solutions, cheaper than on Amazon/eBay. Got some latex gloves too, will post comparison results between household vinegar and phosphoric acid in a couple of days (y)


Just looked up Azure, the price is good. I need some more myself, let me know if they deliver alright, never used them before.
Oh, one more tip. Buy some camphor tablets and put them in an old film roll with some small holes drilled in it. Then put this in the toolbox with the metal things you don't want to rust, renew when tablets disappear (takes a while). yep, really does work.
 

Regex

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Just looked up Azure, the price is good. I need some more myself, let me know if they deliver alright, never used them before.
Just arrived, very quick turnaround (ordered at 4:30pm on 1st Dec), packaged in a cardboard box (with UN Code 1805) with a cable tied bag around the container. I've not tried it yet, still waiting for the other kit.

Edit, forgot the pics :)
Phosphoric_acid1.JPGPhosphoric_acid2.JPG
 

Regex

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I finally pulled my finger out and got started on these. I've gotten most of the way there, gave them a bath in 30% phosphoric acid and a lot of sanding and steel wool rubbing later they look like this.
Auger bits (partial).JPG
My girlfriend commented that they looked like implements of torture :oops:

I found the base of the bits responded best to being rubbed onto a flat piece of 120 grit followed by 220 grit, followed by a quick scrub with a brass brush to clean ou the stamped numbers. The encrused shafts needed sanding paper followed by steel wool as the wool was ripped to shreds. The screw heads were best rubbed with a brass brush.

Some of them still need a bit more attention, and most will probably need a bit of sharpening. Some may or may not need a second dip in the acid.

I probably have been better served doing an initial sanding/scrub to get the worst of it, and only then putting it in acid.

The bits came with two canvas rolls, which are crusty with rust and grime. What's the best way to clean these? Will a soak in fairy liquid and hot water do the trick?
 
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Nigel Burden

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I finally pulled my finger out and got started on these. I've gotten most of the way there, gave them a bath in 30% phosphoric acid and a lot of sanding and steel wool rubbing later they look like this.
View attachment 98338
My girlfriend commented that they looked like implements of torture :oops:

I found the base of the bits responded best to being rubbed onto a flat piece of 120 grit followed by 220 grit, followed by a quick scrub with a brass brush to clean ou the stamped numbers. The encrused shafts needed sanding paper followed by steel wool as the wool was ripped to shreds. The screw heads were best rubbed with a brass brush.

Some of them still need a bit more attention, and most will probably need a bit of sharpening. Some may or may not need a second dip in the acid.

I probably have been better served doing an initial sanding/scrub to get the worst of it, and only then putting it in acid.

The bits came with two canvas rolls, which are crusty with rust and grime. What's the best way to clean these? Will a soak in fairy liquid and hot water do the trick?
I would use washing powder and hot water personally, but I see no reason why Fairy Liquid wouldn't work.

Nigel.
 

Regex

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Thanks Nigel, I mixed the two and that worked. Unfortunately I think the stiff grime was what was keeping it all together and the two rolls are quite deteriorated. I will find a new roll at some point or make a nice box for them all.

Thank you all for your help.
 

Awac

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Faithfull do a synthetic auger bit roll for about £8-10 on Amazon and such like . Not very "Trad" looking but works well and easy to clean.
 
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