I got this antique wrench for a few euros. I was quite rusty and the jaws didn't move well. The back of it had also obviously been used as a hammer.
The handle could not be detached. Often this type of wrenches have a threach at the and of the hande si that it can be removed. I if I was to change the handle I would have had to break it off and glue a new one in from multiple pieces or grinf the "cap" off and weld it back on after changing the handle. Luckily the handle was is decent condition and I thought I'd only make it look a little nicer but still a little aged, not brand new.
Step 1: Filing the Jaws
I decided to file the jaws more even and make the bent edges a little nicer. It woulndn't have made any sense to smoothen every surface on the wrench. This way it made got it looking nice (to my preference) still preserving the aged look. More even jaws will also give it a little better grip when compared to ones that are all banged up. There is not really any magic tricks in this step just hard work. Hand file will be quite enough because I was only going to remove a little metal. I didn't want to remove any material you could just skip this step.
Step 2: Rust Removal With Electrolysis
Usually I oil the handles last, but this time, as I was not able to easily remove the handle I thought I need to protect the handle from water during electrolysis. I left the handle to sit in oil for a day or so that I was sure it will be fine in water for an hour or two.
After I had oiled the handle I was ready to start the electrolysis. I decided to use electrolysis as that would also get to the inside of the wrench because it couldn't be disassebled. Vinegar would have been bad for the handle and I thought this would help the rust come off as I oil the mechnism. I think it helped. Electrolysis works simply only by conducting electricity from your part with rust to a scarifical piece of steel in a water with electrolytes. Here's an ecxelent instructable on the subject
There are some dangers in the electrolysis (if done wrong) so make sure you do some research so the you understand what is happening and what sort of gases are being produced, so that you don't get poisoned, electrocuted or blow your house up.
After the electrolysis I oiled the parts with WD-40 and used a wirewheel on a drill to remove the rest of the rust. It case right off after the electrolysis. I'm unsure but based on my own experience this type of "light" rust doesn't come off as well in the electrolysis as it does from "ancient field find" type of objects with really thick layer of rust. Based on my experiences, with enough time in the solution all the thick layers of rust will come off and no wirebrush is needed. This type of lighter coat of rust it seems like it's harder to get off with electrolysis.
Step 3: Finishing the Handle
The handle had a thick layer of "something" on top of it. It was probably some sort of wax because it clogged teh sand papers rather quickly. I h´sanded the handle fist with 80 grit and then moved up to 400 grit which usually has already quite nice feel to it. I didn't want to make it too shiny because the rest of the tool had still a lot of signs of age. After sanding I decided to still finish it with oil just in case the first oiling did not completely penetrate the waxed surface everywhere. I'm quite happy with the dark walnut looking finish the handle ended up with. Different lights make it look a little different, but the last picture is closest to the actual color.
Thank you for taking the time to read my Instructable!