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Cleaning finish from I do not want to gunk up my stones by trying to sharpen through this stuffcarving tools

I am new so be gentle.  I Want to start carving and have a fair number of various gouges, from different makers, all old or vintage.  My immediate problem is a roll of vintage Hirsch gouges.  They are almost unused, some never sharpened, but they all have a thick coat of some clear finish on the metal.  The finish sticks very tight to the metal, but has crazed and staining has started under the cracks.  The result is a very unsightly dark spiderweb of staining on all the blades.  I do not want to gunk up my stones by sharpening through this stuff.  Any recommendations on how I can remove this finish and clean up the gouges?

Hi Patrick,

I've never had to do this or even seen this, but I'm guessing they possibly put a coating shellac on the surface to try and preserve them from rusting - many years ago. Have you tried to use denatured alcohol to remove this? Maybe test it on a not-so visible area of the gouge to see the results. You may want to talk to an antique tool specialist, as I'm sure this coating has been used on others tools as well. It sounds like the coating is too thick to just remove with steel wool.

Good luck! Vintage Hirsch are good tools!

Hey Patrick,

A lot of tool manufacturers apply lacquer to metal surface to prevent rust. It was more common on old tools to apply heavy coatings.

You can remove it with lacquer thinner and some fine steel wool. In a pinch you can use fingernail polish remover. Since the thinner will remove any trace of oil they will be highly susceptible to new rust unless treated. Just wipe them down with a very small amount of light oil and then wipe them clean with a paper towel afterwards. You really don't want oily tools but enough will be retained in the metal surface to help resist any new rust. Avoid getting the thinner on the handles and have fun.

Thanks for the info.  I will try it out in the near future.  I live in Atlanta, so I stopped by the local woodworking tool dealer to look at the new Hirsch tools and ask about cleaning off the fininh.  The new Hirsch tools have a much thinner anti-rust coating and the final polish on the steel is not as polished.

I had the same thing. I took a little gas from the mower can. It dissolved everything. But use a clean paper towel and fresh gas to finish up and get it clean

a couple of minutes on the driveway and all the solvent had evaporated.

use common sense this stuff is flammable.