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Cheap Electrolysis Set Up

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Forum topic by Coleman Dodds posted 03-04-2020 08:40 PM 916 views 1 time favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Coleman Dodds

24 posts in 763 days


03-04-2020 08:40 PM

Topic tags/keywords: electrolysis hand tools

So I am wanting to give electrolysis a try and am curious on how you guys have set it up. I want a semi reusable set up that is fairly inexpensive. I am going to need a big enough set up to do a Stanley number 7 jointer plane.

Thank you,
Coleman Dodds


20 replies so far

View Notw's profile

Notw

1090 posts in 2993 days


#1 posted 03-04-2020 08:43 PM

5 gallon bucket, rebar, couple of wire ties, piece of wire to hang the metal object from and a small car battery charger . This is over simplified but it really doesn’t take much

https://www.familyhandyman.com/workshop/how-to-remove-rust-with-electrolysis/

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

8771 posts in 3438 days


#2 posted 03-04-2020 09:52 PM

All you need is:
  • 12v Battery charger or other type of DC power source
  • wire (~14ga copper is good)
  • something to use as a sacrificial anode (ie: rebar)
  • container
  • Arm-n-hammer washing soda (not baking soda)
  • water

Most expensive part is the battery charger, but you can find them on CL for pretty cheap – like $5 or so. You don’t want one of the newer ‘smart’ chargers… just look for one that has a single meter on front and maybe a couple of different voltage/amperage switches. Doesn’t need to be big… 2A is good, 10A is overkill.

Pretty much any plastic container will work as long as it can hold water. 5-gallon bucket, small rubber-maid containers, kiddie pool, etc… just be aware that you will NEVER use it for it’s intended purpose ever again after doing electrolysis in it! Well, I guess you could, but I doubt you will want to :)

Washing soda can usually be found at your local grocery store near the rest of the washing detergents. It can also be found at many hardware stores such as ACE, dollar stores, etc… The washing soda is added to the water to make it conduct electricity better. I generally will only add about 1tsp per gallon of water, and adjust from there if needed.

If you use a metal anode, like rebar, be prepared for some really nasty orange crusty gunk to be made during the process. You can use just about anything metal for the anode, but stainless steel is not recommended by some as it will theoretically give off a small amount of toxic fumes. If you want the process to be a little cleaner without all that orange nasty junk, then use carbon rods as your anode.

The container can be re-used over and over again. You will need to clean out the gunk every now and then, and occasionally top it up with water, but that is about it. Keep it covered when not in use so it will reduce the evaporation and keep critters out of it. I keep a bucket on my patio ready to go whenever I need it… been there for a few years now and still going strong.

Many people will tell you to be careful as it produces explosive gas. Well, that is true – it generates hydrogen and oxygen, but that gas is very minimal and dissapates into the air immediately once it comes to the surface. As long as there is a sufficient volume of air, you can even do the process in something like a closet if you want. It’s great fun to take one of those long BBQ lighters and ‘pop’ the bubbles as they come to the surface. As long as you don’t deliberately concentrate the gas, it is harmless and nothing to worry about.

For extra credit – there is a LOT you can do with the gas generated, although you need to modify the process a bit so it makes much more than what rust removal does. The gas produced is known as HHO, or sometimes called Brown’s Gas, and has been used for many different applications. There are plans available to make some pretty impressive HHO generators on the net. Some have used it to improve gas millage on their vehicles, others use it as alternative fuel sources in off-the-grid applicaitons. One of my favorites is making a HHO torch – which can produce a flame hot enough to burn through tungsten yet remain cool to the touch at the tip! Way cool stuff.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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corelz125

3716 posts in 2216 days


#3 posted 03-04-2020 10:26 PM

How rusty is the plane?

View SMP's profile

SMP

4816 posts in 1145 days


#4 posted 03-05-2020 12:20 AM

Yeah as mentioned on the charger you don’t want the automatic stuff. I bought a manual one at Autozone for around $40 when I was anodizing aluminum.

For plastic tubs just go to wally world or home center and look for the rubbermaid etc plastic storage containers for the garage, closets etc and find a size that fits.

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

13584 posts in 3619 days


#5 posted 03-05-2020 05:19 AM

I’ve never done electrolysis but what is the advantage over dropping it in a bucket of citric acid? Citric acid is cheap by the pound and no complicated setup.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View Don W's profile

Don W

20179 posts in 3807 days


#6 posted 03-05-2020 10:02 AM



I ve never done electrolysis but what is the advantage over dropping it in a bucket of citric acid? Citric acid is cheap by the pound and no complicated setup.

- Woodknack

Acid will ruin a tool much much faster.

-- http://timetestedtools.net - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View SMP's profile

SMP

4816 posts in 1145 days


#7 posted 03-05-2020 12:36 PM



I ve never done electrolysis but what is the advantage over dropping it in a bucket of citric acid? Citric acid is cheap by the pound and no complicated setup.

- Woodknack

In my experience electrolysis is much faster, an hour vs days in some cases, and it won’t eat the metal like acid does, or eat the etchings etc.

View Madmark2's profile

Madmark2

3093 posts in 1828 days


#8 posted 03-05-2020 12:43 PM

My mom got electrolysis on her eyebrows.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View Holbs's profile

Holbs

2383 posts in 3269 days


#9 posted 03-05-2020 05:29 PM

and to note…electrolysis retains metal, converting rust to carbon. Most other chemicals & acids remove metal.
Very easy to work with, is the most economical. Tried to find my #7 rehab blog/project… it’s gone cyber bye-bye.
I use electrolysis for big parts (15” planer rollers, saw plates, planes, etc) and EvapoRust from Harbor Freight for small bolts, washer, parts.

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter "xylokopos/ξυλοκὀπος"

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Craftsman on the lake

3882 posts in 4677 days


#10 posted 03-05-2020 05:43 PM

Evaporust is amazing stuff…. Not cheap and it wears out after awhile so you can’t use it over and over again for long but it really works.
No advice on the electrolosis stuff but there’s lots of youtube vids on it.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

8771 posts in 3438 days


#11 posted 03-06-2020 03:10 PM

and to note…electrolysis retains metal, converting rust to carbon. Most other chemicals & acids remove metal.
- Holbs

IIRC, electrolysis actually can/will convert some of the rust back to iron instead of just removing it. Essentially, the rust (Fe2O3) is converted to Iron and Magnetite (Fe3O4) during the process. The rust will turn from black to orange, and the layer next to the good iron will be reduced back to iron. It will only do so if the process is not rushed though, which is why I typically shoot for using around 2A, which even then is a little on the high side.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Don W's profile

Don W

20179 posts in 3807 days


#12 posted 03-06-2020 09:15 PM

View corelz125's profile

corelz125

3716 posts in 2216 days


#13 posted 03-06-2020 11:42 PM

https://www.timetestedtools.net/2016/02/27/hand-plane-restoration-by-the-no-soak-method/

If it’s really not that rusty this is the other option.

View Holbs's profile

Holbs

2383 posts in 3269 days


#14 posted 03-07-2020 12:06 AM

https://www.lumberjocks.com/Holbs/blog/53714

good example of electrolysis results

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter "xylokopos/ξυλοκὀπος"

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

13584 posts in 3619 days


#15 posted 03-07-2020 02:45 AM


IIRC, electrolysis actually can/will convert some of the rust back to iron instead of just removing it. Essentially, the rust (Fe2O3) is converted to Iron and Magnetite (Fe3O4) during the process. The rust will turn from black to orange, and the layer next to the good iron will be reduced back to iron. It will only do so if the process is not rushed though, which is why I typically shoot for using around 2A, which even then is a little on the high side.

Cheers,
Brad

- MrUnix

The first thing everyone does is remove the black oxide to expose clean metal so any imagined material savings are immediately lost to cleaning and polishing. Speed will depend on electrolysis setup and material preparation; or acid strength and temperature. I could see that if you have a tank permanently set up it would be convenient, also less expensive probably for large pieces.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

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