The right tools for the job... restoring old tools.





When setting up for a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle hand tools are often part of the equation. Although nowadays we can find all kinds of tools in all price ranges in most local hardware stores and DIY centres, for some reason they seem to be struggling to be of any lasting quality. In an off grid living situation electric power might not be as readily available and abundant as we might wish, making the reliance on hand tools even greater.


Old tool are often better quality that just need some loving care: video above


Nothing is more frustrating than getting on with a job you have been planning for some time only to find the tools you have gathered are not up to it, blaming yourself for not shelling out a bit more for quality tools. Collecting the right tools for the job can be a rather expensive undertaking, there are however ways to get around this if you take your time and put in the effort.


Yard sales, online auctions, swap meets and flea markets can be a great source when it comes to acquiring the much needed vintage, quality tools at reasonable prices. Rummaging through heaps of rusted metal and stained or rotted wood looking for that hidden gem, picking it up and scraping away rust with your thumbnail, trying to make out the manufacturer's name is all part of the hunt.  

Restoring old tools

All it takes is some basic chemistry and a little elbow grease to salvage tools that look like they've been sitting on the bottom of the ocean since before you were born. Rusty tools turn up in the shed of the property you just moved into. A friend hands them down. Often their handles are rotted away and their steel is so rusty that you consider getting a tetanus shot before even looking at them.


To get rid of that neglect all you need is some white vinegar and some abrasive materials such as:

  • Steel wool which is available in eight grades of coarseness ranging from superfine, No. 0000, to extra-coarse, No. 4.

  • Sandpaper, available various grit sizes depending on the type of tool you are restoring

  • Steel wired brush.

To start off your restoration, remove as much rust as possible using the wire brush, then drop the metal in a bucket of white vinegar and let it sit overnight. This will further loosen up the corroded metal. After taking your tool out of the vinegar rinse it thoroughly with plenty of water and dry it. Now it is time to get busy with sandpaper and steel wool to clean up and remove pitting from your tools. When you are satisfied with their appearance you might want to apply some oils or enamel paint to protect the tool from getting rusty again. If needed finish of by installing a new wooden handle, and you have successfully added a valuable tool to your collection, without breaking the bank.