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I've got an old set of wood carving knives, my wife's actually, and parts of the blades are pretty rusty.

However, we have a sharpener for them. If I sharpen them, are they still safe to use? Or is there a possibility that the blades are completely weakened and I should just replace the set, to be safe?

I don't want to risk a blade chipping or something while using it.

2 Answers 2

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Depends on how deep the rust is. Rust weakens the bonds in the metal, but unless it is rusted right through, it's probably recoverable. Basically, you want to:

  1. Remove the rust, likely a soak in vinegar for a day or so will do the main job.

  2. Sand off any remaining rust using something like steel wool or fine grit sandpaper.

  3. Sharpen.

  4. Polish to restore finish.

People restore old kitchen and pocket knives all the time and you can find lots of different techniques online. Unless the knife has been rusting for a lot longer than we've been alive, I think you're good once you've removed the rust and stopped the oxidation.

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  • This is the gist of it. If you do step one and that removes most of the rust and you should be fine. If it is penetrating rust then the tool might not be good for much if it is one of the smaller carving implements. If it was that bad though it should be obvious before you start. Only thing outside of that is to watch for significant pitting. It would be a weak point in the blade that would buckle first. Again, this would have to be significant. Lots of my tools have a little pitting.
    – Matt
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 17:46
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Rust implies they are carbon steel. Although rust removes very little metal ,it will quickly dull a sharp edge. Many modern knifes are stainless steel ( 13 % chrome ) and resist rust well. If you use them much it is worth replacing with stainless. Rust does not weaken or chip steel. Years ago , carbon steel razor blades were coated with platinum or other corrosion resistant material ; this prevented corrosion of the cutting edge and they stayed sharp much longer.

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