They say magnet fishing started by someone who was inspired when seeing boaters use magnets to retrieve lost keys or other objects from the water. Ever since then it became a hobby that grows in popularity every year.
Nowadays, people go out with their strong neodymium magnets and pull out all kinds of interesting things. Most of it is junk and can be thrown out. However, some things you find might be quite valuable and worth restoring.
There are a few ways you can restore rusted magnet fishing finds. You can use simple products such as vinegar, evaporust, molasses, and naval jelly. If you want more advanced methods of removing rust, you can use electrolysis or an ultrasonic cleaner.
In this article, we’ll go over all these different methods. I’ll also include a YouTube video to help demonstrate each one.
Different Cleaning Tools for Restoring Magnet Fishing Finds
The hardest part of restoring old tools/items is rust removal. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make the process easier.
I’ve compiled a list of six different tools for restoring magnet fishing finds. I’ve also embedded a video for each method to help visualize the process:
A pretty simple and well-known method of removing rust from metal is using vinegar. White vinegar is usually recommended but most kinds of vinegar should work.
Pour enough vinegar into a bowl to submerge the object. Let it soak for some time, best to do it overnight. Then simply wash the rust off and you’re done.
|Easy||Not as effective with deep pitting|
|Cheap||Not great with internal parts that are severely locked up|
|Works on most metals||Not a good choice for wood handled tools|
Another method for removing rust is using evaporust. The process is pretty much the same as vinegar. It’s slightly more expensive but does a better job. Just submerge the object you wish to clean and wait. The rust will be “vaporized”
|Easy to use||More expensive than vinegar|
|Very good results|
Electrolysis is a process of removing rust by utilizing electricity and sodium bicarbonate. It’s very efficient and won’t damage the tool/item in the process. It’s self-regulating.
It can be a bit expensive to get set up. It’s also a little dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area and use proper safety equipment when dealing with electricity.
If you plan on doing a lot of rust removal this is probably the best option. More expensive to get started however cheaper in the long run.
This method is great for cast iron and other similar metals. However, it is not recommended for stainless steel or copper.
|Amazing results||Initially most expensive|
|Doesn’t damage the tool being restored||Requires set up and safety measures|
|Self-regulating||Not good for copper or stainless steel|
|Removes the paint|
Molasses is another option for removing rust. This is one of the cheapest methods available. You can get a 12 oz jar of molasses for about 3-4 dollars.
You need to mix about an 8-1 ratio of water to molasses. Let the item soak for a few days and see the results. If all the rust hasn’t been removed continue letting it soak. It could take up to a few weeks if the rust is really bad.
You might want to do this in a separate room or in your garage as the solution can get quite smelly. This method also seems to take the longest amount of time and isn’t great for items with a lot of rust.
|Very cheap||Has an odor|
|Easy to set up and get going||Takes a lot longer than the other methods|
|Can be used on any metals||Not the most effective but good for lightly rusted items|
Ultrasonic cleaners are really good at cleaning small objects. They are super fast too. For example, if you have a bunch of old coins that need to be restored an ultrasonic cleaner is the way to go.
There are usually two knobs, one heats up the water while the other transmits ultrasonic waves. There’s also a cleaning solution you can use that helps remove caked-on dirt and grime.
This machine is very loud when you turn on the ultrasonic part. You also have to be careful not to leave the object in too long. About 20 seconds should do it, any longer and you’ll start removing the details on the coins.
|It is super fast||It is very loud|
|Great for cleaning a bunch of small objects||Could accidentally remove some of the detail|
|Really good at cleaning dirt too|
The last method to restore your magnet fishing finds is to use naval jelly. This one is a little different because rather than letting the item soak you simply brush the navel jelly onto the object.
The benefit of this is you don’t waste as much of the product. For example, with vinegar, if you find something big it would take a lot of vinegar in order to have enough for it to soak.
It’s also pretty quick to see results. it only takes about 5-10 minutes. You can get an 8oz container of Loctite naval jelly for about $5 so it’s not too expensive either.
|Very fast results||A little smelly but not as bad as molasses|
|Excellent at removing rust||Have to brush it on rather than soaking which might take longer.|
|Brushing it on allows you to restore larger items.|
A Few Tips for Restoring Magnet Fishing Finds
Always start your restoration project by disassembling the tools or items as best as possible. It makes the whole process a lot easier and you’re able to access all the cracks and crevices.
Begin by using whichever rust removal process you want, mentioned in the previous section. Whether that’s vinegar, evaporust, or etc.
Avoid Using Abrasive Materials
It’s important to only use an abrasive tool if needed. These include things such as a wire brush, grinder, or sandpaper. These tools are effective at removing rust but can also damage the thing you’re trying to restore as well. You want to avoid destroying the surface finish as much as possible.
If the rust is pretty bad and an abrasion tool is needed, use it with caution. Start with the softest tool first and work your way up if needed.
For example, use a stiff nylon brush then a copper or brass wire brush followed by a steel wire brush. Alternatively, you could use sandpaper starting from the highest grit and working your way down.
Also, try to avoid using bench grinders, Drexel grinding wheels, etc. Only use them after you’ve tried all other methods and still need a bit more “oomph”.
If the Tool or Item is Stuck
If the tool is still “stuck” after the de-rusting process there are a few different tricks you can try. You can soak the tool in either PB blaster, brake cleaner, or a 50/50 mixture of acetone and automatic transmission fluid.
Restoring Wooden Handles
If you found an item with a wooden handle such as a hammer, chances are it will need to be fixed or replaced. If you have woodworking skills you could easily make your own handle. Or you can simply purchase a new handle for relatively cheap.
Safely installing the new handle should be a relatively easy task. Depending on what exactly you’re restoring you’ll want to find a good YouTube video for your specific needs.
Finishing the Project
Once everything is completely rust-free there are a couple more things to top it all off. First, any edged tools should be resharpened. As they say, “a sharp blade is safer than a dull blade”.
Lastly, you’ll want to wipe your finished tool/item with a light coat of oil. This will help keep it rust-free and last longer.
You should now have a pretty good idea about how to restore your magnet fishing finds. Removing the rust can be quite a time-consuming task. However, the results, in my opinion, are worth it.
Once you’ve figured out how to restore your magnet fishing finds, you can decide what to do with them. You can keep them as trophy pieces or even try to sell them for a small profit.
Enjoy your magnet fishing adventure! If you find anything cool please send us a picture! Tell us your story so we can share it with the other readers!
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