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Removing rust from a knife...

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Willky1, Oct 14, 2018.

  1. Willky1


    Jul 10, 2014
    I recently bought a T.M. Hunt Yuma from another forum. The seller neglected to inform me of a few places that have some rust on them. So, without taking the knife apart, what’s the best way to remove this rust. Sand paper? Some kind of chemical? Other ideas? Obviously, this knife looks awesome (maple burl handle) and I don’t want to scuff that up or harm the wood if I don’t have to. I’ve removed rust, with some success with sandpaper, but thought I’d see what other options are out there. Thanks for any input you can offer!
  2. Dogdrawz

    Dogdrawz Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 15, 2016
    Use painters tape to cover scales on the handle & sand with multiple grits until you reach the desired grit. Then take the last grit you like & pass it on the blade in one direction. If'n you want a brushed look. Or, you can sand the rust off, then chunk the whole knife into a media tumble. Or, etch the blade. Or, etch then tumble. Whichever works for you. I don't see rust...I see opportunity for greatness.
  3. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 6, 2000
    Let us see a picture of the knife and the rust spots. Then we can intelligently tell you the best method to remove the rust.
    Leave the sandpaper alone for now.......
    Eli Chaps and JJ_Colt45 like this.
  4. JeffG@818

    [email protected]

    Jul 4, 2018
    Try OOOO steel wool and white vinegar first. If you are not happy with that, I would suggest moving on to wet or dry sandpaper. Use a small sanding block.
  5. Willky1


    Jul 10, 2014
    I’ll upload some pictures tomorrow when I’m at my computer. It’s mainly around the handle scales.
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  6. Mo2


    Apr 8, 2016
    Bar keepers friend.
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  7. JJ_Colt45

    JJ_Colt45 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 11, 2014
    hard to say without pictures to know how bad it is. .. if it is just minor rust speckles a copper penny might pop them off ... or good quailty American made 0000 steel wool with a bit of kroil oil or flitz ... also Big 45 Frontier Metal Cleaning Pads work well on surface rust.
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  8. eKretz


    Aug 30, 2009
    [email protected] and Mo2 like this.
  9. Lapedog

    Lapedog Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 7, 2016
    Obviously you don’t care much about the finish of the steel if you’ve already taken sandpaper to it.

    In that case try the Purple rough ScotchBrite pad. It worked very well to remove small spots of rust.
  10. Spideyjg


    Nov 7, 2017
    If on carbon steel follow up with a baking soda scrub to neutralize the acid BKF has in it.

    The approach to rust depends the severity.
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  11. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 6, 2000
    Wow! Everybody has answers to a question that hasn't been asked!
    He can scrub the knife on a sidewalk to remove rust, but that's not exactly the right way to do it.
  12. Willky1


    Jul 10, 2014
    Hey, y'all thanks for all the input. I have not done anything to the knife yet. Below are some pics. In all honesty, the rusting is minimal. I just wanted to start from a clean slate since the knife is new to me. Also, (and this is a bit embarrassing to say) I am not 100% sure this is all rust. I am pretty sure it is rust on the butt end of the knife, but I am less sure at the choil. I guess it's possible some of this brown stuff is adhesive from the scales being attached in the making process. Thanks again for your thoughts and input!

    Attached Files:

  13. If some of that could be adhesive from the scale attachment, you might use a Q-tip with some acetone to rub those spots -- see if it comes off. Might be epoxy, for which acetone sometimes works to clean it up.

    Might try a similar approach with a little bit of vinegar on a Q-tip, for the spots that might be rust. Vinegar can loosen up & dissolve rust, so it can be wiped away. After that, apply some baking soda to neutralize the vinegar's acidity (prevents it from forming new rust), then clean it up with dish soap & water.

    I recommend the Q-tip method for application, so you can confine the remedy to only the spots themselves, without overkilling the job and possibly altering the finish in areas not needing it. Per Bill's advice, I'd not mess with sandpaper for this one at all.
  14. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 6, 2000
    OWE gives good advice!
    It would be very difficult to get into those places mechanically.
    You could additionally use WD 40 on a cloth to rub those areas.
  15. Willky1


    Jul 10, 2014
    Thanks for the advice! With the vinegar method, would I run the risk of getting it under the scales and the knife rusting somewhere I am not aware until it's bad enough to spread from under the scales? Also, the same questing with cleaning knife with soap and water. And would the WD-40 remove the rust (kind of ashamed I have to ask this question, haha)?
  16. With the vinegar, just moisten the Q-tip with it and rub the spot. Done that way, there shouldn't be much risk of excess vinegar getting where it doesn't need to be. Just enough to see if the spot will lift or diminish; you should see red/brown staining on the Q-tip, if it does.

    I wouldn't worry about the soap & water causing issues either. If in doubt, after washing it, you could use the WD-40 to flush out any remaining moisture from under the scales, etc.

    WD-40 might or might not loosen the rust. Can't hurt to try it, and you might do that before trying anything else. Sometimes it takes some time. Given enough time soaking, like several hours or even a day or three, WD-40 can sometimes be helpful in loosening up very heavy rust enough to scrub it away.
  17. Stolenives


    Jul 12, 2017
    I always use a rust eraser, I've restored old beat up fix blades with them its actually pretty incredible and they're not even 10 bucks. Go on amazon and buy one of those you wont be disappointed. They don't scratch the finish, they just rub off the spots within seconds
  18. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 6, 2000
    Rust erasers do scratch the finish. They are about 400 grit.
  19. Stolenives


    Jul 12, 2017
    Im no knifemaker so if you say thats the grit, thats the grit; fine. I know theyre available in a few variations, fine, medium etc...OP, they also have the added utility of removing metal filings from your ceramic rods if you happen to own those. My 2 cents
  20. Rust Erasers are a silicon carbide grit in a rubbery binder. A.G. Russell's site sells them as a means for cleaning ceramic rods, and they also suggest using them on tools, outdoor equipment & such. This is what they say about them, regarding use on knives:

    The SiC grit would easily scrub the dark oxide off the OP's pictured blade, in this case. Sometimes, on satin-finished 'user' blades, one can use them without much penalty in finish, as the 'finish' left by the SiC grit will emulate the satin finish on the blade. So, you need to be careful & picky about how you use them.

    (R.I.P., A.G. Russell -- August 27, 1933 – October 12, 2018)
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2018

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