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gloat but kinda o/t (chisels)

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  • gloat but kinda o/t (chisels)

    today a old neighbor gave me about a dozen old wood handled wood chisels, gouges and wide and narrow off-set chisels, all nearly sharp as razors.

    looking on line, i found an antique dealer in calif. that at least displayed some of the values of them. mine have been laying in a box in a barn so they are surface rusty but i think they would clean up nicely with a power wire brush on the steel and some good wood cleaner on the handles.

    question is, should i ?

    im not intending to sell them but possibly find a way to wall display them in my shop. i hate to have someone tell me i should have just dusted them off and left them alone.

    group picture to follow, either as is or cleaned up or both. whats the thought ?? ??

  • #2
    In my opinion the rust has to come off this is not to be confused with an age old patina which is aquired through much use. I don't see you wanting to keep them or anyone else rusty.You won't get so much selling them rusty either my 2 cents maybe others will see it another way but I know what I would ratrher have myself so this is only my opinon. Alistair
    Please excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease


    • #3
      I'm a woodworking bottom feeder most of the time, so this comes from experience. I have one set of new chisels, but most of mine are between 70 - 100 years old - Berg, Greenlee, PS&W, Stiletto, Marples.

      Many, if not most, guys who acquire old woodworking tools like planes, saws and chisels, don't want the patina disturbed at all for any reason. In particular, they disdain wire brushing and it would decrease their value quite a bit. My advice would be that if you're going to keep them for yourself, then do what you want. If you're going to resell them, then just just dunk them in evaporust or vinegar and salt or something like that, but don't wire brush them at all. If you try reverse electrolysis, be very, very careful.

      BTW, what brand of chisels are they? Socket or tanged?


      • #4
        Old Chisels

        Hi David
        What a treasure I love old tools. If you are to display them do not clean them to look "As New".
        A good clean with "Mineral Turpentine and a rub down with "pot scrubber" and dry of with a clean cloth or paper towels.
        Brush on a coat of "Raw Linseed Oil" and leave to dry, it takes ages.
        When it has hardened brush on a second coat.
        You can thin the "Raw Linseed Oil" with a little turpentine to make a very primitive varnish.
        Or use a "Polyeurethane Varnish" to finish.



        • #5
          I'm only concerned with tools to use and I'm generally don't care about resale value.

          That said, I do care about the appearance and care of my tools.

          There are two ways to use a wire wheel. Put lots of pressure on, remove lots of rust in a hurry, cut into the suface of the metal and leave the tool looking like hell. Or use a fine wire wheel, work gently and remove only the rust, with no scratching of the iron or steel.

          Better yet, use steel wool with oil or kerosene, though the effect with a carefully used fine wire wheel should be about the same. Steel wool will burnish the surface, rather than cutting into it as an abrasive does.

          Never try to remove the dark staining of the steel or iron. That IS patina in my book, and is much better at resisting rust than bare metal.

          Dave Cameron


          • #6
            I agree with Dave Cameron.


            • #7
              Procede with caution. Antique tool collectors are fussy. If you wish to use them as indented and the tool have on particular value except for their age your dont have to be so careful. As I understand the process the tools are cleaned to a condition reflecting age but not neglect. No metal is to be removed or wood refinished. I think you're pretty much limited to mild petroleum solvent grade 0000 steel wool, mild soap and water.

              What makes a tool really valuable in the yeyes f a collector is provinence: original packageing, receipts, photos of the original purchaser using the tools, owner's marks, notes on owner succession and history, rare but renouned makers. sales literature featuring the tool, etc.

              I can't abide "collectors" myself. They take perfectly good tool and lock them up to gloat over while people in need of good tools pay fortunes for substandard and over priced wannebe equipment. I can see ammassing a collection of fine tools and caring for them, guarding them agains neglect and abuse but not use them occaasionally or even not knowinghow they are used? Scandalous.

              From a website:

              Notes on Tool Restoration
              by Rick Rubin

              (Webmaster's note: This article was scanned from a 1984 issue of ToolTalk)

              The antique tool collector or user has an obligation to preserve an artifact that was once a functioning object. This obligation can take various routes, but it is my wish to express my own philosophy. My occupation is the repair and/or restoration of musical instruments, and my approach has been colored by my experiences in this field. My approach is this: At one time this artifact was an object of good function and also an object which was finely finished, a thing of beauty. This being so, the object is to restore it to as near original condition without compromising it.

              A tool presents a very special problem because it is not simply an object created for observation, such as a painting or sculpture, a tool is meant to be used as well as preserved. The tools that we all collect are deemed obsolete by an attitude that no longer reveres quality above mere quantity. The planes manufactured by Stanley, Ohio Tool Co., Sandusky, Chapin, etc. are still as good as they ever were. The results obtained by them can be just as accurate as ever if they are well cleaned and tuned up. These tools are a pleasure to use and, therefore, in my mind, worthy of restoration. It appears that the pendulum is swinging back toward the cultivation of work with hand tools, as evidenced in publications such as "Fine Wood Working," Fine Home Building, II and many, many others. None of us will live forever. Then do we not have the obligation to hand these tools down as functioning tools that are also still beautiful?


              Stanley 45, patented 1884, Floral casting, no logo on the fence--earliest type. I acquired this plane in a trade with a very good friend, thanks Charlie! It was in a very sad state. Nearly all the Japanning was gone: the brass screws were oxidized; the rosewood knob and handle were very dry and colorless. I was faced with a problem. Do I simply clean it as best as I can or really do it well? In my trade it simply isn't enough to correct the worst problems and leave it at that. If the finish on a violin or really fine guitar is in poor shape, it is restored. Why should this not apply to tools? I've never really understood the attitude that a rusted, chipped and tarnished tool is somehow more valuable than another that is carefully restored. I suppose part of the problem in many people's minds is botched restorations. I've seen many on instruments as well as tools. If a tool is in very good or fine condition, then by no means should it be tampered with, but another that is really rough ...why should it remain so? Anyway I chose to restore it to new condition. I stripped the iron parts of what vestiges of Japan remained. I took all the brass hardware and placed it in a bath of dilute white vinegar. I took the knob and stripped it, glued a tight crack and linseed oiled it to restore some moisture to the wood. I did the same to the handle in place. The arms were very rusted, but not badly pitted. I used a bench motor that we use in woodwind repair to clean them. It has a 3-jaw chuck and a hollow shaft. I chucked the arms (one at a time of course) in it and used 220 grit wet or dry to sand off the rust. I advanced the arm a few inches at a time until half was cleaned, then reversed it and did the other half. I finished them while turning with 360 then 400 grit. They look good, but not overly done at all. I cleaned the threads with a brass wired brush. Please for- give me, but I want to harp about a pet peeve of mine. I feel it is deplorable that the buffing wheel is used so much on the brass fittings of antique tools. Very few of the originals ever show signs of having been buffed. Buffing can do real harm. It can destroy the definition of a piece; in this example the delicately knurled screws. It removes a lot of brass if applied strenuously, and in my opinion, gives the tool a very unnatural appearance. Give up your buffing wheels except where they apply. What is my solution? The brass wired brush. They chuck it into a bench motor or drill and leave a clean brass patina. Since the bristles are the same material as that which you are cleaning, they don't scratch it. Try it once and you'll agree, I am certain. The brass brushes and the bench motor can be obtained from Ferrees Band Instrument Tools and Supplies, 1477 E. Michigan Ave., Battle Creek, Mich. 49017.

              The iron parts I refinished with Japan paint. This paint, as far as I can tell and research, is close to the same product used originally. It is a flat drying paint and is mixed with varnish to add elasticity and gloss. Japan colors are very heavy bodied pigments and are compatible with nearly any other finish. The venerable '45' was beginning to look good. The knob and handle I French-polished. This technique is perfect for the early Stanley's. Mix a thin shellac (water thin), dip the corner of a clean piece of cloth in it and squeeze the cloth to distribute it. Take a dab of olive oil and wipe it on the cloth. Then, with quick circular strokes, apply to the rosewood. When the cloth starts to get dry, use straight strokes to polish out the circular ones. Repeat until you've got what you like. You can use this "polish" on any of your wood, it looks very mellow and natural. Don't stop the pad on your work, though, or you will get an imprint of your cloth. I cleaned the skates and depth stops with a rust remover distributed by Do-All Tool Co. in Los Angeles. This product is simply the best I've ever used. It cleans without harming, and leaves a phosphate coating on the parts which inhibits rust formation. Most times steel wool with a rust remover will get it off. Really stubborn rust works off well with kero- sene and wet and dry sandpaper, then steel wool and rust remover. That is how I cleaned the Stanley 45. I'm looking at it as I write and have the following observations. It looks mint. The Japan color and varnish have the same look as originals. It does not look sprayed or painted. The brass has that rich patina and not a mirror finish. I would never try to pass it off as original, but it looks real close and in 20 years should look like an old mint Stanley 45. I don't feel that I harmed it in any way. I used it on a project today, and it worked well. When my collection is dispersed some day, this plane will, I hope, get into the hands of a craftsman and I think he will be thankful that someone took the trouble to restore an old battered tool to its rightful place.
              Last edited by Forrest Addy; 06-06-2012, 10:50 AM.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Forrest Addy
                I can't abide "collectors" myself. They take perfectly good tool and lock them up to gloat over while people in need of good tools pay fortunes for substandard and over priced wannebe equipment. I can see ammassing a collection of fine tools and caring for them, guarding them against neglect and abuse but not use them occasionally or even not knowing how they are used? Scandalous.
                lol, mostly I agree with you...but being the devils advocate, if you use a tool, you use it up. handles wear, blades dull and need resharpening etc. To avoid scandal, should all museum quality pieces be used until they are no more, should museums lend out tools like a library?

                otoh, all these wankers collecting say a dozen anvils and not using them for anymore than those anvil shoots is scandalous.

                like most things, reality is shades of gray
                in Toronto Ontario - where are you?


                • #9
                  If the rust has caused significant pitting then I advocate complete refinishing - grinding and polishing ut try to keep the makers stamp. There are those who like the feel of the old tools and like to put them to use and a properly refinished tool appeals to those users. If there is no pitting then do what you can to keep the patina. A light rust will even dissappear with a light rubbing of wax polish.
                  "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"


                  • #10
                    Perhaps it's better to advise those selling such things to leave alone despite my earlier advice, but those using them won't surely want tools all rusted up what do you think? Alistair
                    Please excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease


                    • #11
                      I find just wiping it down with oil is best.

                      Most of the rust comes off, and what rust comes off into the rag acts as a nice polish. Whats left is just a nice oily dark stain that should resist future rusting if kept oiled.
                      Play Brutal Nature, Black Moons free to play highly realistic voxel sandbox game.


                      • #12
                        Very nice to have a set of any type old chisels that have been taken care of over the years, many of the good old name brands are superbly made.