Saint Ambrose

Saint Ambrose
Photo: Journey Worker Productions, CC SA 3.0 (C)

Monday, 26 June 2017

Electrolysis / Restoring old hand tools

I picked up some new tools when over in Perth for Christmas, including a very old and rusted corner plane. <picture to follow>, and a very old wooden plane, and some very good chisels - not a set but someone's old working box of chisels, all sorts of odds and sod chisels, but all in very good condition. Those should be fun to try out <pictures to follow!>. I'd been putting off buying chisels until Feb, but found them at a bookshop I go to any buy everything in Perth whenever Im there. Ive been getting stuff there since about 1992!  Off the planes, one is a stanley corner plane, the other a small oddly horned wooden plane (in size, the wooden one is roughly the equiv of a number 3 or a 4).

This lead me to think about how to go about restoring the tongues on the wooden one and the body and mechanisms and tongue and blade on the corner plane. I am going to try electrolysis once I get back to Melbourne. Here were some sites that gave me ideas. My father had done electrolysis back in the 60s (he's an industrial chemist and tinkerer), which encouraged me. Most sites recommend the use of battery chargers still plugged into the wall. Im suspicious about this recommendation, and think that Ill try a battery instead (a lamp battery perhaps?; something lowish volt but with a high store of power). Too much can go wrong with something plugged into the mains for a first try, and I really dont want to short it. He also endorsed the details advanced in the last (comprehensive) blog here, which notes the possibility of using salt instead of sodium carbonate solutions as an electrolytic solution. Much easier than buying crystals to use salt! He also noted the salt will help the reaction, and iodine in salt is not a problem, and gave me some lowdown on electrolyte solutions.

Handy guide to doing electrolysis on handtools:

quick, but a bit boganny/rednecky and not technical:

comprehensive (UK):

Convenient guide to kinds of rust - helpful to work backwards and figure out what a metal is (esp.for stainless steel vs iron).

This one, oriented around restoring coins, has a nice picture of re-using an old mobile phone charger, and a visual test for + vs - charge:

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