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Restoring Saws

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billw

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I've just removed a load of rust off three handsaws using vinegar, and then wiped them down and oiled them. However there's still a lot of non-rust markings on the steel, what's the best way to get them all shiny again?


 

D_W

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If they aren't affecting the cut, I'd leave them alone.
 

MikeG.

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Sandpaper. No need to try to get them shiny all over, but if you have some superficial marks you want to be rid of, then a little light sanding will do the trick.
 

Cheshirechappie

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There's an old trick using a piece of scrunched-up aluminium baking foil and a few small dabs of Autosol metal polish. The result is a smooth blade rather than a shiny one, but really smooth and slick is what you want for sawing - shiny is just nice cosmetically.

There may be a problem with the pitting on the lower of those blades (the one with the handle off). It can be tricky to get an even set, and the brittleness associated with it can make teeth break off. It's worth a try sharpening and setting, but don't be too disappointed if you have a problem or two with it.
 

billw

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Great thanks. I don't think any of the blades are completely straight at the moment, so they do need some attention.
 

AndyT

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Britain's foremost expert on old saws, Simon Barley, advises against any sort of chemical dip or electrolysis for cleaning old saws as there is a small risk of spoiling the qualities of the steel. He always uses abrasives where there is too much rust. If very rusty, a wallpaper or window scraper gets the loose stuff off efficiently.

As for the pits, a wipe with an oily rag will stop them getting worse but you'll have to live with them looking black.
 

D_W

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Both heavy chemical (vinegar isn't likely to cause much of a problem, but too much heavy etching can make the surface brittle) and heavier abrasive use are problematic.

Some saws will have a brown uniform coating on them and if you do enough abrasion to get them bright, they will have tension problems. It's not that easy to accurately hammer much tension back in them.

Backsaws like these, no problem. I don't know if backsaw blades were tensioned in finer saws, but it doesn't really matter for these as they're from an era with stout backs and thicker plates.

Getting a rust bloom abraded out of a saw (after it's converted to an inactive blob like shown in the picture) always involves going much deeper than expected, and then if there are stray scratches around the bloom, it's ugly. If the abraded area is scooped out instead of level and black, then it's uglier. If they are level with the surface and inactive, the saw should be good working. If it's really good working, then it's pretty easy to forget what it looks like and remember more about how it feels.
 

dannyr

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More questions than answers:-

After a scrape as suggested, and an abrasive paper, I finish off with a Garryflex block (rubber loaded with emery-type grit) - medium grit - which gives a nice dull and un-scratchy finish quite speedily - anyone else use these? Any longer term problems? After that a few drops of engine oil rubbed in.

Alu foil sounds interesting, but I guess in theory remaining Alu could electrolytically react with the steel and cause more rust - what do people think?
 

Cheshirechappie

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Ah - yes; so that's where I learned of the ali - autosol trick! Blimey, Andy - you have a good memory remembering threads from so long ago!

I've used the technique, after removal of gross rust by scraping, and it works really well. I don't think there's any electrolytic problems because the ali foil is just used as a scrub, and not for long. No aluminium is deposited on the steel of the blade.

Certainly the saws I've cleaned and smoothed using it, all five years ago or so, show no ill effects at all, and I've not heard anything negative from elsewhere.
 

D_W

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dannyr":19ynilyq said:
More questions than answers:-

After a scrape as suggested, and an abrasive paper, I finish off with a Garryflex block (rubber loaded with emery-type grit) - medium grit - which gives a nice dull and un-scratchy finish quite speedily - anyone else use these? Any longer term problems? After that a few drops of engine oil rubbed in.

Alu foil sounds interesting, but I guess in theory remaining Alu could electrolytically react with the steel and cause more rust - what do people think?
no problem with it. It's a variation on lapidary use - using a soft metal carrier to hold a stronger abrasive and rub it against a harder metal surface. The abrasive embeds in the soft metal and skids on the hard metal. Works well for general minor surface clean up. It's a slow go on deep pitting, but it's arguable that other than stuff that sticks above the surface and that can be bladed/scraped off before the foil and autosol, the rest of the material sitting in the pits is just as well left alone (and looks better left 2d than turned into 3d).
 

D_W

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abrasive blocks are OK but wet and dry paper backed by something like a hard felt block is probably a better way of achieving the same thing.

Not sure of the origin of the blocks - many here were probably introduced to them by tool suppliers and catalogs, but I recall seeing them in the 1980s for removing oxidation from model railroad tracks (as well as scotchbrite -both could even be found on specialty model railroad cars that would lightly use those when making rounds).

At any rate, I think LN refers to those blocks as used for tool care (arguable that they don't sell products that need restoration) and my opinion is that they work better for care (getting light rust as soon as it starts) rather than restoration.

Sorry that I forgot to mention anything about chemical reactions I have never noticed any long term ill effects on a saw worked over with foil and autosol. Not on the plate, and not at the tooth tips.
 

billw

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The simple use of some 120 grit has removed virtually all of the grime on the first one, I might give the foil trick a go to see how it fares. At least they're not looking forlorn and unloved any longer.
 

The_Yellow_Ardvark

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Strip the handles off.
Mix up 1tbls of Citric acid powder to 1ltr of water.

Place the blades in and leave..
Remove, using heat dry them well. Using wire wool the steel with come up a treat.

Warm and then using a mix of bee's wax and teek oil rub in and polish.
Sharpen and set the teeth, refit the handle and away you will go.

Done enough for Men In Sheds.
 

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