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How to clean a rusty old machete?

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Lena, Feb 7, 2009.

  1. Lena


    Feb 7, 2009
    As a gift, a friend bought me a rusty machete :rolleyes: What would be the best way to clean it? And there's what looks like a half of a sticker on the blade (in Spanish) so what would be the best way to effectively remove that? Thanks in advance,

    PS- on the non sticker side, it says: "GAVILAN DE INCOLMA COLOMBIA" and there is the logo of an eagle. Any ideas?
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2009
  2. PetaBread


    Jan 2, 2009
    Shower it in WD-40 and let it sit for like 10mins then wipe it like a beast.
    (Dont know if it'll work but it's worth trying, i guess)
  3. cj65

    cj65 Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 30, 2008
    The sticker should come off easily with acetone. Flitz metal polish with a cloth will remove rust.
  4. caseyp


    Dec 3, 2008
    You can find "rust erasers" for between $5-10 usd. Basically a cheap stone, but it works like a charm on all of my old tools, scissors, shovels, etc. :)
  5. antonio_luiz


    Jul 23, 2008
    30 years ago, anything badly rusted we used to leave soaking in coca-cola in a sealed container for a few months - especially good for parts that had rusted together. I know it sounds weird but it worked - possibly because of the phosphoric acids and tannins. Don't know if it still works with the current c-c formula's though.

    Other than that it's back to abrasive scourers and elbow grease. You can also get rust removing pads that work off an electric drill but these can cost more than the machete's worth
  6. Roger999


    Mar 22, 2008
    I prefer to use 200grit sand paper to get rid of pretty bad surface rust, after all the rust is gone, I start to go up in grits to get a more polished finish.
  7. metalfof


    Nov 4, 2006
    As befor,sand away the rust with some aluminium oxide paper,then apply some phosphoric acid based "rust eaters" and finally some sort of barrier to prevent further oxidation-spray grease works well on my machetes.
  8. MacHete

    MacHete Hair Cropper & Chipmunk Wrangler

    Apr 7, 2000
    Yeah, it was the phosphoric acid. Same as in naval jelly and other rust removers as metalfof pointed out. (Also the same stuff that depletes the calcium from your bones if you drink too much of it.) The only difference between old or "real" Coke and new or "Classic" Coke is- the old formula was made with sugar, the new is made with corn syrup. Minimal effect on rust-removing properties. ;)

    My method involved some or all of the following, depending on how bad the rust was, and/or what I had available to work with. Oil or WD-40, Brass wire brush, *bead-blasting cabinet, wire wheel, sandpaper, sand, abrasive sponge, flitz or other polishing compound, lots of elbow grease.

    Good luck.

    *If you try a sand-blaster, rather than a bead blaster, be very careful- they can remove a lot of material quickly and unevenly. You may have a difficult time getting the blade flat again, or end up with a blade much thinner than you started with.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2009
  9. lerner


    Sep 1, 2008
    Speaking of wierd rust removal... dont forget:
    tea (tannic acid)
    vinegar (acetic acid)
  10. vic2367


    Sep 15, 2006
    if you have a dremel,use the sanding wheel,,or just plain ole sandpaper with elbow grease,,
  11. popcornpicker


    Apr 3, 2007
    Don't forget the bottom line: It's a machete! Cut down a Brazilian rain forest or a path thru a jungle.

    That should remove the rust.

    After that, use a Sharpmaker on it, then some Turtle-Wax and put it in your shed.
  12. Idaho Jarhead

    Idaho Jarhead

    Nov 2, 2007
    Hoppe's #9 and some steel wool! :thumbup:
  13. Lena


    Feb 7, 2009
    o_O so many options. But has anyone heard of GAVILAN DE INCOLMA COLOMBIA?
  14. MacHete

    MacHete Hair Cropper & Chipmunk Wrangler

    Apr 7, 2000
    Yes. I have at least one or two. I couldn't say how they compare to Trams, Collinses or Cornetas or other makes, though, because I've never done side-by-side tests. I think they are all pretty comparable in quality and performance, though perhaps not cost.
  15. ChapmanPreferred


    Oct 7, 2006
    Where do you live (Country, State/Province, County, etc)? Maybe someone is nearby that could assist you.


  16. zombievt


    Apr 23, 2006
    I've always used 3 in 1 oil but Hoppes would work just fine too.

    A wire wheel in a drill would work for heavier rust.
  17. Jim L.

    Jim L.

    Mar 2, 2006
    Or weirder: SnoBowl toilet cleaner. If used with a brass brush, the copper from the brass will transfer over to the steal, giving it an interesting if not so durable coating.

    I tried this with a bunch of old tools (rusty as hell wrenches, sockets, etc.) and some blade metal and seems to be holding up so far on the tools. The main thing is that the acids (WEAR GLOVES! it burns) will eat the rust like tribbles eating quatrotritikaeli ("It vas inwented in Russia :D).

    Jim L.
  18. the possum

    the possum

    Jul 31, 2002
    Popcorn picker is the only one I agree with. :D Use the heck out of it, and the rust will wear off all on its own! To keep it that way, keep using it.
  19. Karda

    Karda Banned BANNED

    Jun 1, 2007
    Use WD-40 and some 00 steel wool. wipe all the rust off and then lightly coat with a suitable light oil.
  20. Zemapeli


    Jan 26, 2013
    I will tell you everything I know about rust removal. FORGET WD 40 AND LOTS OF WORK. THIS WILL THIN OUT YOUR BLADE AND RUIN THE LINES OF YOUR CUTLERY. I have tried so much products and techniques for removing rust and pits from cutlery in the past. I have lots of experience in this. I hope this will save you from all the headaches I have had before while dealing with rust. I only suggest these:

    Red Metal Finishing Pad~ This works well as an abrasive to remove surface rust from blades. Note that I said surface rust, as it will NOT get the black hardened oxides from within "pitted" metal. Pitting is spot where the red rust (which is the worst kind, red rust is active and will eat away at un-oxidized metal) has eaten a tiny hole into the surface and left behind more stable black rust. This black rust acts as more of a patina, and is more stable than red rust. I still hate it.

    1000 grit Wet/Dry Sandpaper~ (black) This is good for creating a mirror finish on metal. This only looks good if there is no pitting just FYI. Use honing oil or some type of lubrication while you lightly sand if necessary. This also works for getting rid of the micro scratches left over on your blade after using a Metal Finishing Pad, Or Green Kitchen Brillo Pad.

    CLR (Calium, Lime, Rust)~ A household cleaner. You can purchase this at a local hardware store for six dollars. It is a green liquid that has an acid in it. Acid is a harsh word, keep in mind. The product will melt the oxidation right off steel. For use let the metal soak FULLY SUBMERGED in the CLR for ten-fifteen minutes AT MOST, Then use a Metal Golf Club Brush, or Brass Brush/Metal Finish Pad/Steel Wool as an abrasive on the metal. The Oxides should come right off after about five strokes from whatever metal you are using. Keep in mind**** You need to thoroughly clean the metal you used the acidic medium on after an application, or it will create rust again. All the CLR will do is melt that oxide and make it loose, if you apply the CLR without abrasive cleaning and cleaning afterwards, the metal will pit and become more rusted. I know this from personal experience. You also will need a container to contain the CLR and whatever you are removing the rust from while it soaks, as it cannot be applied with a cloth without hurting your blade; such as a mason jar, pickle jar ect. You should only use CLR on small things such as pocket knives, multitools, ect.
    ***FOR LARGER APPLICATIONS SUCH AS SWORDS: Use naval jelly instead of CLR. It is more powerful than CLR, Less harmful in my opinion, and is a gel based product as opposed to CLR, which is liquid. You don't need a container, just apply directly to the metal with a cloth or Q-tip. Apply Liberally, use abrasives such as the ones listed above, then rinse with warm water. Please take my advice and have at least a pint of K1 Kerosene to wipe your metal down with after the cleaning with water. K1 Kerosene is a petroleum distillate based penetrant that will remove all the remnants of the CLR/Naval Jelly and protect your blade. I suggest Naval Jelly over CLR for all applications, but CLR is second best. Loctite makes the Naval Jelly I use, found at any hardware store for $6-7.

    Rem Oil~ Works well for cleaning of debris from metal and rust prevention. It is petroleum distillate based, so do not use directly on leather, as it will darken and dry the leather out. This is a 2 in 1 product. I use it more for cleaning than oil. It is okay to apply to a metal, then sheath in leather. Rem Oil is a gun oil found most everywhere.

    Hoppes Weathergaurd Oil~ Works as a rust preventative and lubricating oil. This is what I used AFTER I use Rem Oil. It doesn't collect lint like Rem Oil does..

    A Brass Wire Brush ~(Found at a Gun Specialty Store for $1-3) Use as an abrasive on metal. The ONLY thing that, together with Naval Jelly will fully remove oxidized rust from the Pits in metal caused by rust.

    Steel Wool ~ A fine abrasive made from steel. Found at most tool stores. Steel Wool will leave behind metal powder on metal that will only come off with oil. (Use Rem Oil)

    Green Brillo Pad~ Basically a wimpy version of the Metal Finishing Pad. It is finer, and will leave green powder behind. I follow up a metal finishing pad with a green kitchen pad for finish.(FYI)

    My best advice to you is buy Loctite Naval Jelly, A Metal Finishing Pad, A Brass Wire Brush, and Can of Rem Oil.
    Start by liberally applying Pink Naval Jelly to the entire machete blade with a rag. Rub the blade down with the metal finishing pad liberally, then rinse thoroughly with warm soapy water, dry with paper towel, repeat until rust is removed. This may take a few applications.
    If the metal is pitted and you want to remove the oxidation from the pits, brush the pitted areas with a brass wire brush. This might take a while. Finish with rem oil.
    If you have any more questions feel free to ask. I don't want anyone to have the headaches I had with this. I know a good deal about rust removal. Take it easy. -Zemapeli

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