I have this monster of a wooden box I unearthed from the storage closet in my garage. Inside are some really nice (mostly Snap-On) vintage tools to add to my collection of my grandfather’s, but unfortunately there is no telling what used to leak on these mountains for years before they put new roofs over them and ruined all good things inside. All these tools have an ugly rusting that coats every inch so I know it will never be gone entirely unless someone finds me with vats big enough or something like that. Any suggestions? Thanks!
I wouldn’t worry about a bit of rust on these tools, especially if they’re in nice shape otherwise. As you’ve discovered, rust can be removed from all kinds of old metal with just an acid solution like vinegar or muriatic acid – the same stuff they use to clean swimming pools and sidewalks. We’ve got a complete tutorial on this right here.
The worst thing that will happen if you don’t remove rust on old tools is that your hands might get a little dirty while using them. No big deal there! However, when I say “rust,” I am referring to something called iron oxide which will permanently stain almost anything it comes into contact with. If you try to sand it off of your tools, or worse yet buff them with wax and polishes designed for steel, rust will still be under that shiny surface and continue to eat away at the metal underneath. Therefore, before you apply any “treatment” to remove rust from your tools, call a professional – or two – who can tell you what kind of rust they are dealing with if it isn’t already obvious.