One Way to Clean a Saw

Note: The content of this post has been moved to my new blog.  You can find the new post here:

25 thoughts on “One Way to Clean a Saw

  1. “Don’t leave the saw in the vinegar any longer than necessary to loosen the rust or it will begin to eat away the good steel.”

    Bob isn’t exaggerating… I have a really ugly Stanley #5 that will testify to this. The lever cap and the non-japaned areas of the body now have the feel off 120 grit sandpaper.

    Bob, its hard to tell in the photos buy does this leave a dull or shiny surface?


  2. Bob great Post and glad to see you post again. I use white Vinegar on all my tools that are rusty except the saw’s, truthfully never gave it a thought. I am just starting to getting into saw’s and have a few candidates and will give it a try. I have done ( 2 ) saw plates using the same method minus the vinegar which will be added when necessary.

    Thanks for sharing !


    • Yeah, you can skip the vinegar and just go straight to the sandpaper. It works fine for lightly rusted saws. Just did that myself for an order of five lightly rusted saws. But when the rust starts to get a bit heavy, the vinegar helps to save sanding time. So I use it for the more heavily rusted specimens.

  3. Bob, thanks for the post! Citric acid like lemon juice? Is that concentrated enough? Should you rinse the saw plate with baking soda to get rid of all the acid?

      • Hi Clay , the active ingredient in citrus cleaner is a limonene solvent , which is a great crud remover but won’t do much for the rust beyond its surfactant action.Still a handy tool in tool rehabbing.

  4. I tried a variety of methods and ended up with Bob’s method. To me the saws come out looking just right: like a well-maintained and used, older tool. I remember that this is how my grandfather’s saws looked. I know there are other ways to use citric acid, but white vinegar is very cheap and accessible at every grocery store. Plus, you can bake iron-enriched muffins when you’re done.

  5. White vinegar is also my go-to product and your method is great for a production environment. I realize white vinegar only costs around $2.50 a gallon but you can stretch it further and use this process on objects too large to soak with minimal extra process. Use paper towels to wrap your tool and then saturate the paper using vinegar in a spray bottle. You do need to periodically re-wet the paper. Care should also be taken with cast items past around 20 hours of soaking. Chemically the alloys can suffer stripping (yes I made that mistake.)

  6. Thanks for sharing your method of cleaning handsaws. I have several that need to be cleaned, AND sharpened.

    Do I get the idea that you sharpen handsaws? If so, mayhap I can send mine to you for sharpening. Near as I can tell there’s no saw filing shops in my community.

    Thanks again for the info.

  7. Great information! I have been frustrated for years with this problem and used the wet/dry sand paper with just WD-40. If you can’t learn anything new, you must have died and been planted!

  8. I will have to try this. I have some of my grandfathers saws I would like to clean up and put in my shop. Thanks again.

  9. I use a product called evaporust … It’s non-toxic (you can put your fingers in it, use it inside,etc.) and only converts the rust, then stops. It’s fully biodegradable too. I hate sounding like an infomercial, but it is truly awesome. I used to do electrolysis and other stuff but now it’s evaporust or nothing!

  10. Thanks for this, Bob. I’ve got a handful saws that were in this house when we moved in in need of a good cleaning. This includes a 24″ long Disston mitre saw that I would love to get back in use. Oh, saw rehab. Another rabbit hole to take a stroll down . . .

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