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Picture of Refurbish Your Old Wire Brushes
Wire brushes.  How often have you started to pick one up and discovered the bristles no longer point in one direction, but spread out like a 1970s haircut?  Not only that, but if you're like me, you want to avoid this type of brush at all costs, since these wayward wires are very good at penetrating fingers right where the nerves are closest to the skin... Ouch!

Some of my brushes are quite old with short bristles, a testament to their age.  These short-bristled brushes are very handy for reaching into tight spaces, so I try to take good care of them.

If your wire brushes are a little "ratty", try this nifty little trick to bring them back into shape.
 
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Step 1: What You'll Need:

Picture of What You'll Need:
What you'll need:

A ratty wire brush.  (The one I'm using wasn't this abused, but I wrecked it for demonstration purposes.)

A bench grinder with a wire wheel.

Step 2: How It's Done

Picture of How It's Done
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Run both sides of the brush through the bench grinder's spinning brush and the wheel will "Comb" the wire brushes bristles, straightening them out.  This works just as well for stainless and brass brushes.

Not only will the combing straighten out the bristles, but it will shine them up as well.  Now your brushes can live to be as old as mine.

I hope this helps and saves a few old wire brushes from the trash heap... And a few fingers from multiple tiny puncture wounds:)
yvael2 years ago
I love this! I have a favorite brush that I couldn't part with even though it's basically useless. Now I'm so glad I kept it. Thank you!
bfk (author)  yvael2 years ago
Thank you yvael. I can't tell you how good your comment makes me feel :)
pfred23 years ago
I like my wire brushes styled like a 70s bush cut. Then they clean at all angles! Mostly I use powered wire wheels like your bench grinder, or my favorite, a cup brush on an angle grinder.

Now here is my hot tip for those. Spend the money and get wire wheels rated beyond the speed you plan on running them. Your cheeks will thank you when you're not pulling broken wires out of them. On my 3450 RPM bench grinder for example I run a 6800 RPM rated wheel. It lasts way longer than a 3450 wheel does, so it ends up costing less than buying 3 or 4 "cheap" wheels do.
bfk (author)  pfred23 years ago
GREAT tip pfred2... If I use a really cheap wire wheel and bend my head down while I'm using it, I bet I could get rid of my bald spot:)
pfred2 bfk3 years ago
I've had ejected wheel wires embed pretty deeply into me. Face shots are the worst but that isn't saying I like gut shots either. When the higher speed wheels fatigue they go, but they kind of go all at once at the end. The cheap wheels seem to start going the day I get them.
bfk (author)  pfred23 years ago
I rarely use any wire wheel, as they produce a galled finish. Hand wire brushes, sand paper, diamond paste and Carnauba wax is my preferred pile of cleaning stuff. Also, there's an automotive paint removing brush that uses micro glass fibers and does a phenomenal job of cleaning deep into the corners of small parts and tools.
pfred2 bfk3 years ago
Often I just remove the heavy material with wire wheels, and finish with other methods. Like much in life I find moderation is the key to success.

I've run into situations where I won't wire wheel something because I don't wish to damage it, but that has been more the exception, rather than the rule for me.
hirod33 years ago
Very clever! Thanks for sharing!
bfk (author)  hirod33 years ago
Thank YOU.
yoyology3 years ago
Not having a bench grinder, I'm wondering if I could manage this with the wire wheel on my Dremel. I'm guessing it canna take tha strain, cap'n.

Great idea, though. I love anything that allows me to get more life out of something I'd normally toss away.
you could just try rubbing it along a concrete curbstone for a lo-tech solution?
bfk (author)  yoyology3 years ago
Thanks for your nice comment. Your dremel would certainly be overwhemed, but your power drill certainly wouldn't.. Just be careful with wires flying off the wire wheel you use. Protect your eyes.
next thing I need to buy is a wire brush wheel for my bench grinder. Thanks for the idea, will try ASAP!
satx73 years ago
Thank you, bfk, it worked great on all 4 of my wire brushes of various sizes. Quick and easy too!
bfk (author)  satx73 years ago
Thanks for the wonderful endorsement satx7. I'm glad you tried it and it worked for you.
rimar20003 years ago
Clever!

I usually lose several minutes every now, trying to straighten the wires of my steel brushes.
bfk (author)  rimar20003 years ago
Muchas gracias, mi amigo. Siempre disfruto y respetar su experiencia.

Thank you, my friend. I always enjoy and respect your expertise.
Very good trick! No idea you could fix them this easily.
bfk (author)  jessyratfink3 years ago
Thank you. Simple is always the most satisfying way:)