Toymakers Shop - Cleaning Rust Off Of Castiron Tools

Shopsmith Central Machinery Jointer In Its Original Water Damaged Box
Shopsmith Central Machinery Jointer In Its Original Water Damaged Box

Used tools can be great bargains, but some times the best deals need some elbow grease applied to get them in usable condition. Often they have been neglected for a long time or stored and maintained improperly—simple things like keeping castiron waxed can go a long way to preventing rust and corrosion. 

I recently purchased a Shopsmith for a low price. It was in a storage facility that had no way to test the powerhead. They needed the space cleaned out right away. There were two unidentified. Accessories still in their mangle shipping boxes, with the banding still on them. One of the boxes was very heavy, and I knew from the weight and size of the box that it was a jointer. 

Shopsmith Central Machinery Jointer Label Made In 1987
Shopsmith Central Machinery Jointer Label Made In 1987

When I got it home and opened the box, not only was it a jointer, but it was a rare 6-inch Jointer made by Central Machinery for Harbor Freight Tools. It was clear that at some time, water had got into the box, and there was some surface rust and a bit of pitting.

I have a method of cleaning flat castiron surfaces that works well for me. I use an abrasive pad and WD40 to remove the rust. I used to restore bicycles that I would get for free for my kids and some of the neighborhood kids. While working on bicycles, I learned that WD40 and 0000 steel wool would quickly remove rust and corrosion on chrome parts and spokes. 

Shopsmith Central Machinery Jointer With Sander Used With Scotch Brite Pad To Remove Rust
Shopsmith Central Machinery Jointer With Sander Used With Scotch Brite Pad To Remove Rust

Today I don't use steel wool for rust removal. It is messy, and I don't like dealing with all of the metal bits. Steel wood is also a fire hazard. I have replaced steel wool with Scotch Brite pads. Scotch Brite pads come in all sorts of grits, but for this, I used the green pads you might have in your kitchen. 

After removing the fence, I sprayed a liberal coat of WD40 on the jointer and let it sit for a few minutes. Next, I wipe it with a paper towel removing all the loose rust and any of the grease that these tools have on them when shipped. You may need to do this a couple of times.

Now for the good part. I coat the surface of the jointer with WD40 and using a new Scotch Brite pad and a cheap 1/4-sheet sander I remove the rust. On my sander, I don't need to attach the Scotch Brite pad to the sander; it stays in place under the sander just fine unless I got too far over the edge. Once the WD40 turns into a nasty brown sludge, I wiped everything down and repeat the process until you are happy with the result. This process will not remove pitting.

Shopsmith Central Machinery Jointer Pitting Is Not Removed. This is where the water got in.
Shopsmith Central Machinery Jointer Pitting Is Not Removed. This is where the water got in.

When you are done clean off the WD40 with mineral spirits or your favorite degreaser, once the surface is clean and dry, give it a good coating of Johnsons Paste Wax.

Shopsmith Central Machinery Jointer Rust Removed and Waxed With Johnson's Paste Wax
Shopsmith Central Machinery Jointer Rust Removed and Waxed With Johnson's Paste Wax

I already had a 6-inch Central Machinery Jointer that I purchased new from Harbor Freight. I sold one of them to someone who wanted it and was willing to pay the shipping for a 120-pound crate. The other box contained a Central Machinery Jig Saw complete and never opened. I sold it cheap to someone local. I was going to give it away, but when I met the person, they insisted on paying for it. In the end, I have another Shopsmith with a few missing accessories for a cost of $25.

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