I just wire brush most knives (power and by hand) avoiding the edge since you will be working them during the sharpening them later. Since you said there were no bad nicks in the edge, the first video below is the basic method I use for sharpening.
Here is another method that I am sure would work.
If there are bad nicks in the blade it could take a very long time to remove them using “sharpening” methods. Instead, I clamp the knife to a table and carefully shape the bevel edge with a disk grinder, being very careful not to overheat the blade edge. I will sometimes leave a nick or two if it is in an area that gets little use just because I don’t want to waste a lot of metal to even out the whole blade. After shaping, I then sharpen it as in the first video using diamond or oil stones. Lastly, I power hone the edge using a 4 inch buffing wheel charged with honing compound in a drill press. I currently have around sixty drawknives and the method has served me very well through the years including a Blue Grass knife I restored last weekend. After the initial effort I always keep a guard of some sort on my knives and normally just have to fine stone them a little and hone them to restore the edge to razor sharpness. I do bub the backs just-ever-so-slightly for the drawknives designed for bevel up or down use to help with rocking out of the cut when using them bevel up.