How to Remove Rust from Woodworking Tools

//How to Remove Rust from Woodworking Tools

I’ve tried almost every method to remove rust from metal parts! In the above VIDEO I show my favorite method for removing rust from metal parts – specifically traditional woodworking hand tool parts – but it’ll work for most other metal parts, like auto parts.


But first let me tell you about the other methods that haven’t worked very well for me:

  • Electrolisys with a car battery charger didn’t work very well, and is quite difficult to setup
  • Evaporust worked great the first time, but not so well when I bought a smaller container…go figure. But is really expensive.
  • Krud Kutter didn’t work, and it’s expensive when you break it down to a per-ounce cost
  • Vinegar sort of worked, but not perfectly…I had some strange issues with the metal afterwards


I hate rust because it causes corrosion and pitting on metal tools. So what worked the best at rust removal? A Citric Acid solution! Sound complicated or dangerous? Well, it’s not. It’s safe on the environment & hands, and it is the least expensive method I’ve found.


Supplies that you’ll need:

Here’s a list of everything that you’ll need to remove rust from your metal tools (along with updated links to the best prices I’ve found):

How to remove rust


  • Place your metal parts into your plastic container and decide how much warm water you’ll need to add to just cover the parts
  • Remove the parts and fill with the container with enough warm water to just cover the metal tool parts that you’ll add
  • Add ¼ – ½ Cup of Citric Acid to the warm water while stirring…this creates a solution
  • Stick your metal parts into the solution
  • If you don’t see bubbles after a minute or two, just add another 1/4 cup of citric acid
  • After an hour, use a wire brush to loosen the rust
  • If it doesn’t loosen very well, leave it for another hour or two until it scrubs off more easily
  • Quickly dry the parts with a large black towel and immediately lubricate with oil or spray lubricant…or else rust will appear within a couple minutes.
  • That’s it! You may choose to polish the parts up since they’ll have a matte finish.

What are your favorite methods for rust removal? Please comment below!



About the Author:

Joshua loves mixing his passion for traditional hand tool woodworking with his ability to teach in a simple manner. He lives on a small farm in Earlysville, Virginia with his wife and four children, and builds furniture in his workshop / woodworking school.

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Joshua FarnsworthTom StutzMicah HowellLiz Recent comment authors
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Tom Stutz
Tom Stutz

I have to think any residual citrate will accelerate rust formation. I’d suggest after you scrub your parts you rinse them off in a tub of distilled or deionized water before drying and lubricating. For longer term prevention of rust reforming I follow a hint from an Oregon woodworker in a letter to FW mag of 20 or so years ago and use a light dusting of talcum power on all steel parts after each day’s use. Garage stored tools over that time-period show no rust except where I forget to do this or have handled the tool afterwards and… Read more »


I actually enjoyed doing electrolysis, once I got the setup down. I do think it’s best for heavily rusted parts though.

Micah Howell
Micah Howell

Is there a cheap tool protectant that you would recommend, preferably something easily available from a bigger store (I have a Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Sears 5 min from my house)? I would like to reasonably protect my hand tools. Granted they are big box store tools but I would still like to make them last. I have some WD40 at home but have heard mixed reviews. I appreciate any help you can offer. Thanks!

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