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Cleaning a brace and bits

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Alf

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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. :wink:

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:



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.



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.



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.



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...



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.



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.



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.



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



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:



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



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.



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.



Some holes later...



... 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.



See?



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. :)



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



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



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...



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.



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



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.



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:



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.



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



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
 

MikeW

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Excellent post, Alf!

You should see my tub I use when I'm cleaning saw blades. It's 16" deep both directions and 36" long...I buy the citric by the 12 pound bags...tis great stuff.

To avoid the dullness, check frequently after the first hour and use a scrub pad to see when the gunk and rust just is beginning to loosen over the most area. Take it out and begin scrubing. If it wasn't enough, switch over to spirits and sandpaper...or scrub using a concentrated batch of the citric acid, dunking the scrub pad frequently into the stronger solution.

If the metal in question should be made shiner, I just use an auto rubbing compound on a rag and go at it. On large surfaces I use an air-powered buffer and the poishing compound.

Also, in a pinch, most citric-acid based drinks (can you say Kool-Aid?) can be used. Trust me, I've done it. Make one wonder just how strong is the human stomach?

Take care, Mike
 

Chris Knight

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Alf,
A very helpful post and a great incentive to those who still prefer a shiny new thing with feet of clay to a dusty old jewel.

MikeW":3nez3pda said:
Also, in a pinch, most citric-acid based drinks (can you say Kool-Aid?) can be used. Trust me, I've done it. Make one wonder just how strong is the human stomach?
Mike, Does coca -cola work? It certainly gets pennies shiny! We also have a product called Cilit-Bang (anyone know why it's called that?) that is rather coke-like for pennies, might be worth a go.
 

Alf

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MikeW":2i9pvu0m said:
can you say Kool-Aid?
Yes, but it sounds like trendy Elastoplast... :lol:

I dunno, I found no matter what I did it was going to be dull, so I just went into "to hell with it" mode and left 'em in. For saws I'll stick with the old white spirit and abrasive-round-a-block I think. But then I'm not doing as many as you are! :lol:

Cheers, Alf
 

bugbear

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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.
I hadn't heard that one. Good tip!

BugBear (who cleans tools sometimes)
 

dedee

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Alf,
I have a two braces one of which would benefit from that traetment.

On the rare occasions that I have used a brace I am always taken by their power, silence and efficiency. It has to be one of my favourite hand tools and not just for making holes.

Andy
 

DaveL

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Alf,

Nicely done. :D

Must get some citric acid, I do have few dull old things that would benefit from that treatment, including the #78 that I have been using. :shock:
 

Pete W

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Nicely done Alf - well up to your usual high standards :)

Like Andy, I have a couple of rusty acquisitions (well, actually I have a lot of those, but only two are braces, although there are two eggbeaters as well). It's nice to see exactly what I should be doing.
 

engineer one

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very nice alf,

the vintage car guys have a couple of products which are like tape, and have either emery of polish within them, you wrap them round for instance spokes or tubes and rub back and forth to get a nice polish and
remove rust too.

bought mine at goodwood races, but think it is in a couple of catalogues.
when i am more awake will try to find the name. =D>
paul
 

Frank D.

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Excellent article Alf! Some very good tips there that will help me spruce up the few old braces that I have.
Thanks!
 

MikeW

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waterhead37":14an9utr said:
MikeW":14an9utr said:
Also, in a pinch, most citric-acid based drinks (can you say Kool-Aid?) can be used. Trust me, I've done it. Make one wonder just how strong is the human stomach?
Mike, Does coca -cola work? It certainly gets pennies shiny! We also have a product called Cilit-Bang (anyone know why it's called that?) that is rather coke-like for pennies, might be worth a go.
My wife and I were laughing about that the other day--it could be an expensive test!

And heck, if you haven't been getting enough iron in your diet you could just drink it afterwards... :roll:

Take care, Mike
 

Pete Maddex

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Hi,

No it’s not a cocktail drink but some things I have used to clean planes, Coke is quite slow but Cilit Bang works a treat spay it on and leave it for a while and scrub it with a brass wire brush. It also works extremely well on brake dust on car and motorbike wheels. I used it to clean the Stanley No3, No4 and Union No3 that I got for a fiver from the local boot sale.


Pete
 

GEPPETTO

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Hi to All,

yesterday I tried the method of citric acid for my 1900's Stanley #5...it was fantastic.. the rust seems as melted and can be brushed with no too much hard work.
Now it waits me a lot of hours to clean (not too much:they must only work)my tools.
Bye.
 

GEPPETTO

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..again..only for information..

to test the property of citric acid I tried to clean an very old beetle ( I think it's so called ).. very rusted.. I put it in the acid bath.. and awful after I wiped the stuff with steel wood the iron is became shining.. the rust seemed been as only dirt. :D

Now, I have a question.. I tried the citric acid with a plane blade and I saw that the iron seemed as built of two pieces- two steel colors - one darker of the other . Think and re-think I came to: that could be the effect of the tempering- with the treatment I'm able to see that. This effect is even to the surface of the beetle : the darker area is on both the ends. The black areas are harder of the whiter's: the file skated on the darker. Is It just so- the harder part is more dark- or acid works in various way on the two steel types (not tempered7tempered) doing to seem one more dark of the other?

Another trial: that solutions has been able to clean the gray varnish (???) which is on the commercial steel (mild steel)- It could be useful to clean flat pieces for a future infill plane :roll:
It's very incredible as citric acid works for this tasks.

P.S. re-reading that over it seems me few clear. However I hope you understand the sense. :?
 

MikeW

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Hi Gabriele,

The two-toned effect you see on a plane iron is most likely a laminated iron--where a soft metal and the metal that actually does the cutting [a much harder metal] are laminated together. Good irons.

Take care, Mike
 

GEPPETTO

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MikeW":1rv2fqpo said:
Hi Gabriele,

The two-toned effect you see on a plane iron is most likely a laminated iron--where a soft metal and the metal that actually does the cutting [a much harder metal] are laminated together. Good irons.

Take care, Mike
Hi Mike,
I know I hadn't explained well :roll: the two-toned effect how you say is cross the blade with its width on both faces and from the bevel to the central slot.
I have a blade with the effect you say, but the two range colors are visible on the bevel and if I polish the thickness blade I think I could see the two tones there.

It's like this ( I think)


I don't know if now I'm clear :roll: .

:?: I could try to clean with citric acid that blade and to see if a much more clean surface can do to see me all that :?: :wink:
 
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