I found this old hammer head and I'm trying to restore it. I've had some luck removing the rust with 40 grit sandpaper and a sander but I'm going to need to get into those grooves and though that a wire brush on an angle grinder might be faster.

The objective is to remove the rust. What would work best in this scenario? And how do I remove the rust from inside the handle hole?

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2 Answers 2


I'd use my drill-mounted wire brushes on the outside. I've got a range of shapes and the slower, speed-controlled drill would be gentler on the workpiece.

For the inside, I think you'll have to do it by hand. Steel wool wrapped round a dowel, or better a piece of 2x1 planed down to to an oval that fits freely inside the hole, should do the trick. If you use enough steel wool you can wrap it onto the end of your stick and staple/nail it in place

  • @blacksmith37 what would you suggest? I might wipe with oil, at most, but it depends on the expected storage conditions, use, and desired appearance.
    – Chris H
    May 28, 2021 at 14:13
  • 3
    When clean , treat it with conversion phosphate ( such as Navel Jelly) . That will give it some protection from rust. May 28, 2021 at 14:16
  • 1
    You can oil the conversion surface. That should give good protection if not exposed to weather. May 28, 2021 at 14:19

Since this is a small object it is very easy to remove rust chemically. Citric acid removes rust very well and boiling solution of citric acid in water removes rust really well and also very quickly ;). You can get citric acid powder in grocery stores and it is quite cheap. It's OK, to use quite a lot of it. You can mix something like half citric acid powder half water by volume, but if you want you could use less and it will still work only a bit slower. I have used a simple kitchen pot to clean small metal objects successfully. It does not seem to damage steel.

Keep in mind while it''s not the strongest and most toxic acid, it is still a hot concentrated acid so it wouldn't be fun if it gets in your eyes or on your skin. Also I wouldn't boil it too hot since the citric acid itself will boil at 175 degrees C and I don't think its vapour is fun to breathe or if it gets in your eyes...

Iron citrate is produced in the reaction. It is black and can be hard to wash off clothes and other stuff, but you can wash it off from the metal with soap and water. I wouldn't eat the stuff, but as far as I understand, it isn't very toxic. The surface will not be shiny and may look greyish after the process and I find it to be easiest to use metal brush bit for a rotary tool to finish cleaning it and make the surface nice and shiny.

I haven't tried it, but I think the solution could be kept for later use as well.

This works on other corroded metals like copper(and copper is the stuff that usually corrodes in silver jewellery) and aluminium as well.

  • Or put the hammer head in a plastic container with coke.
    – Joachim
    Jun 2, 2021 at 15:44
  • 1
    Citric acid takes 10 -15 minutes. I think coke will be a lot slower. Have you tried it? Jun 2, 2021 at 16:55

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