Restoring Rusty Dumpster Dove Tin Snips




About: I'm a maker by nature but not by profession. I do all sorts of creative stuff and I want to share these things with you. I will mainly be posting all sorts of crafts on instructables for now but maybe I'll d...

I found thesersuty shears from a dumpster. It would have been a shame to let these go to waste. I later found out they were Wiss M1 snips. I know these are not very expensive even as new, but I was still quite satisfied they were not made from chinesium. I'll probably be using these for ears and year to come.

Step 1: Rust Removal

I disassembled the snips to get the rust off better. Then I put the snips in a electrolysis bath to remove the rust. You can find some great Instructables about the subject.

Short version: The liquid is water with some electrolytes, in my case just plane salt. Some people choose to use different electrolytes because of the gasses that are formed. If this step is performed outside it shouldn't generate high enough concentration of hydrogen for an explosion, but only try this if you really know what you are doing. The rusty parts are put into the water along with a scrap piece of steel. DO NOT USE STAINLESS STEEL OR LET THE STEEL TOUCH YOUR RUSTY PARTS IN THE WATER. stainless steel will generate harmful gases. Your scarp steel is connected to a power source to the positive terminal and the rusty parts are connected to the negative terminal. The scrap piece of steel (and alligator clips, steel wires etc.) is going to start rusting in the water. This process will be quite fast so make sure you only insert expendable materials in the water. A chemical reaction will take place which will loosen the rust from the surface and it will also leave the surface with a nice black surface which will protect the surface from re-rusting. The surface could also be cleaned and polished with less effort after the electrolysis process.

I did not use quite enough current or time to completely have all the rust fallen off, but the rust that was left came off easily with a little wire brushing and WD-40.

Step 2: Sharpening

I sharpened the shears with a file. Always sharpen shears from the angled side only (as on the picture) to keep the flat side as flat as possible. If you sharpen it from the other side only the shear will not cut properly anymore because the edges of the shears will not line up anymore.

Step 3: Unnecessary Handle Restoration

The handles were badly faded and I wasn't able to bring the orginal color back so I decided to paint them with plasti dip type of rubber paint. This step was completely for cosmetic purpose, but as I used quite a heavy coat of the paint I think the painted handle is a little more comfortable and has a better grip than the orginal one. I covered the steel with paper and taped the edges. I carefully removed the tape before the paint dried to get a nice edge. You could also cut the rubber with a razor and just pull off the excess rubber after it has dried.

FUN FACT: The handles of these snips are usually color coded. I only learned this after painting the handle. Red handle is for cutting left curve or straight, yellow handle is best for cutting straight on a flat piece and green handle is for cutting right curves.

Step 4: Re-making the Clip

The clip holding the shears closed was broken. I traced the clip, which holds the snips closed, on a piece of aluminum adding the hood that had broken off. Then I cut the rough shape with angle grinder and shaped the final piece with a belt sander and a dremel with carbide burr. I then attached it to the shears and tested that it works as it should and the project was finished.

Thanks for checking out this Instructable. If you liked the video. feel free to go check out my Youtube channel and let me know what you think :)



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    6 Discussions


    18 days ago on Introduction

    I think he did a B minus job. He did not know the color of the handle determine the direction of the cut.


    21 days ago

    Nice project. If I am not mistaken, the handle colors denote which type cutter they are. For example, some are left cutting, some right, and others are straight cutters. But for your own use, I guess it doesn't really matter. And while you cut wire, they are for cutting sheet metals. Thumbs Up!

    1 reply

    Reply 19 days ago

    Normally I would agree, red means left, green means right. But in this case the snips were ambi-shears. Today they are yellow handled. The handed snips are visibly designed for their applications and don’t work well otherwise.


    19 days ago

    N3TQV, he isn’t cutting anything! That pic shows the tool disassembled!


    20 days ago

    Dude, yer breakin' my heart! Rule number one of the sheet metal apprentice handbook says NEVER cut wire with your snips. Look at the original pic and you'll see the nicks in the blades. "Tin Snips" are for cutting sheet metal, "Wire cutters" are for cutting wire. Shame on ya, son!!

    1 reply

    Reply 20 days ago

    Dude! You don't even have to read the first sentence, the title of this instructable is:

    Restoring Rusty Dumpster Dove Tin Snips