Refurbish a Rusted Crowbar




About: I pursued my technical interest and found myself a job as a product development engineer. In my spare time I keep spending time on DIY projects to upgrade my stuff to my own preferences.

How to refurbish a old and rusted crowbar.

Got some old rusted (partly) iron tools from a friend or your grandparents? These these are usually of higher quality and strength then the basic tools from a local shop. So don't be to quick to put the tools in the trash bin.

Using a steel brush and a file (the workshop tool to treat wood and metal) you can restore the the tools to former glory. 

Photo 1: The beginning
Photo 2: The end result


Step 1: Tools and Fixation

It is very time intensive to use a hand steel brush, therefore I use a steel brush that can be mounted in an electric drill. 
Find yourself a drill with a high rpm, and don't use  a cordless drill since you will be switching batteries every 5 minutes.  

Be sure to use a proper clamp to securely fixate the rusted tool! You are using a steel brush at high speed and don't want to shoot into your clothing or other surrounding objects because the rusted tool was not secure enough.

If possible, use a drill with a second handle, this helps positioning and reduces the risk of damaging your own hands.  

Step 2: Remove Rust

Now the real work starts. 

NOTE: Wear eye and ear protection !!!

NOTE 2: There will be very fine dust, so work in a ventilated room or outside.   

Use the drill on hign rpm and brush of all the rust. You have to use some force (push the brush hard against the surface) to remove  all the rust. Adjust the clamp to be able to reach every part of the crowbar.   

The process took about 10-15 minutes for the crowbar in the picture (35 cm long). 

Step 3: Optional Sharpening and Finish

Afterward I used a simple file to sharpen the ends a bit. They should be pointy, not knife edge sharp!
If you have a grindstone, that can be used to sharpen the ends. 

Option finish:
If you are gonna store you crowbar in a moist environment you can use paint or lacquer the prevent new rust from forming. 
Try not to paint the ends, put some tape on the ends while painting. 

DONE, enjoy your old tool for many years to come. 



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    11 Discussions


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I have never heard of this liquid. Can't find much on it on the internet. Can you tell me if it is available in the local hardware store or under what tradename it is sold? I would like to try it since a steelbrush takes some time.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I live in Argentina, my data wil not serve to you.

    The base of phosphatizant is phosphoric acid (same of Coke!) but I don't know the concentration. It does not hurt the skin, makes a grey coat over the rusted iron. You can see it here or in others mine instructables.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I used Coke on some rusted screwdriver bits that I was going to have to replace. They were perfect. And went well with rum.


    7 years ago on Step 3

    Thanks for the tip on the heat treatment also.


    7 years ago on Step 3

    Let us know how long it takes for the bar to rust again if it does.

    It was a good instructable - but I know that if you just wire brush rust (at least thick rust) all you are doing is knocking off the outer layer and polishing the firmer rust underneath. On the ships (steel) we use pneumatic chipping guns to remove the rust and get down to the bare steel.

    This instructable is another really good one for restoring old tools if you haven't seem it yet.

    Naval jelly is also good for removing surface rust. It is basically petroleum jelly with an acid mixed in. Wipe it on , let it sit for a while and wipe it off.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I don't wanna know what you did with your crowbar, but you can never be sure that it will remove all organic material.

    To remove and destroy organic material from metal tools it is best to burn it off. Use a burner and pliers to hold it and cool it down in a bucket of water afterwards.

    Dry it to prevent rusting, then just continu with the steel brush.

    Noto: Don't heat the metal tools to much because the internal material structure will change and it may become softer of more brittle.