Restoring Old Chisels Using Electrolytic Rust Removal.





Introduction: Restoring Old Chisels Using Electrolytic Rust Removal.

About: My love for woodworking and tinkering came late in life but now, my happy space is definitely in my workshop

I had some old cold chisels inherited from my father gathering rust. Using electrolytic rust removal and a bit of spray paint I will show you how to restore them to their former glory.

Step 1: Watch the Video

Step 2: Materials

Materials you will need:

Rusty tools

Voltage source (battery charger)

Non conductive container

Sacrificial anode

Wire (for wiring tools) cathode

Soda Ash or Bicarbonate of Soda

Fresh Water


Step 3: Electrolytic Rust Removal

Wire the tools and connect to negative of voltage source

Connect positive to the sacrificial anode

Mix the Soda Ash (Bicarbonate/ washing soda) in fresh water

Cover tools in non conductive container with water solution

Turn on voltage source



Step 4: Removing and Cleaning Tools


Remove tools from solution

Remove wire

Rinse in freshwater using scrubbing brush for a few minutes

Step 5: Metal Cleanup

Clean up metal burrs on bench grinder

Step 6: Spray Paint

Finish in the colour of your choice



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    14 Discussions


    1 year ago

    I've been doing electrolysis for years and just recently hit on a great product to use as an electrolyte. Rust Wash by Rust Check. It blows the rust off in a fraction of the time. No fumes, but it does foam up quite a bit.

    5 replies

    Hey Friger

    looks like a great product. Gonna try it and will post a video. Thanks for the suggestion

    I'm not 100% sure but I suspect this may be urea hydrochloride - made from urea and hydrochloric acid.

    Electrolysis is supposed to convert as much of the rust back to steel as possible. I think the rust wash is supposed to remove the rust instead of converting it.

    I think you may want to research that a bit.

    "The idea of using electricity to convert rust back into iron is not a new one, and electrolysis has been used for metal restoration by collectors and archaeologists for decades and the results can be very impressive, with shiny metal being visible after proper treatment."

    "Easy to use; quickly loosenes and dissolves rust from metal surfaces."

    This looks a lot more fun than vinegar and steel wool!

    I do not understand the wiring and the 'sacrificial anode'. I see that all the tools to be cleaned are wired together, and the black (-ve) cable is attached to that wire. I do not see what the red (+ve) cable is connected to, and how whatever it is connected to reaches inside the electrolyte bath. Just a piece of wire that loops over the edge of the tank and into the bath?

    Any recommendation for type of wire? Copper power line, telephone wire, metal coathanger?

    Thank you! A friend gave me about 100 pounds of old metal shop tools, and it's killing me to just let them sit there.

    1 reply

    Hi bodgerjfr

    simply, the negative is attached to the tool from which you wish to remove the rust. The Positive is attached to a piece of scrap iron; both of which are submerged in the bath. In my example, all the tools are hung on a bus-bar. Any heavy duty wire can be used except stainless steel - the heavier the better. You can use a coat hanger, but clean of the galvanized coating first. I hope this helps and good luck with getting your old tools cleaned up


    1 year ago

    Oh, and I've put my hand it the solution many times with no ill affect at all. I think it is because it is producing a DC current, but I could be wrong.

    3 replies

    Hey again

    I suppose one's natural instinct is not to "put your fingers in the plug" but, after consideration you may well be right. Time to experiment so watch this space

    Voltage is to low to do much. It's the same as touching both terminals of a car battery with your hands - to much resistance to let enough current through to feel.

    hahahaha, you'll be fine "trust me".

    I've got some old tools I need to do this to as well :)

    1 reply

    Hey Swansong thanks for the comment. Good luck, be safe and enjoy your "new"' tools