best way to clean cast iron

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Forum topic by droppedtuning posted 11-17-2014 07:14 PM 1997 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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31 posts in 2306 days

11-17-2014 07:14 PM

hey guys i am restoring several old industrial carts into coffee tables. my question is how best to clean the cast iron and what is the toughest paint to put back on it. the first one i did with a wire brush on my grinder and it took forever and could not reach a lot of the spots. i am curious about sandblasting them with maybe a cheap harbor freight setup{ for i am out of work} . any experience here with such? also any better suggestions for repainting them other than rustoleum? need some flat black and some maybe clear. thanks guys

20 replies so far

View hoosier0311's profile


706 posts in 2531 days

#1 posted 11-17-2014 07:34 PM

It seems to me that sandblasting would be the best/quickest way to get them cleaned up. I would check into having them powder coated when your ready for finish. Not sure about cost of that though. If that is cost prohibitive I would think about any good quality primer and paint should give a pretty durable finish, especially given they will be coffee tables and inside a house.

-- atta boy Clarence!

View lepelerin's profile


495 posts in 2831 days

#2 posted 11-17-2014 08:19 PM

To clean I would recommend evaporust.

View Mosquito's profile


9845 posts in 2798 days

#3 posted 11-17-2014 08:26 PM

If you’re using rattle can paint, some sort of Enamel paint would be a god idea. I use Duplicolor Engine Enamel (for semi-gloos black) when re-finish handplanes, works well.

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View CudaDude's profile


179 posts in 2814 days

#4 posted 11-17-2014 09:43 PM

If you’re wanting remove rust, look into electrolysis. Google it. It’s cheap and easy. I did a cast iron table saw top and it came out pretty good.

I did a blog on it, but I don’t know to link it

-- Gary

View OSU55's profile


2401 posts in 2495 days

#5 posted 11-17-2014 10:17 PM

A cheap HF sandblasting kit is worth a try if you have an air compressor that will run it. The de-rusting methods don’t clean up the chipped paint etc that sandblasting will. For paint I would use implement paint. I’ve used some from TSC (tractor supply co) that has held up great and it isn’t much more expensive than the typical rattle can stuff. I use it anytime I’m painting metal if I can get the right color.

View dhazelton's profile


2839 posts in 2802 days

#6 posted 11-17-2014 11:32 PM

If you don’t have a massive compressor than you will be quickly frustrated with trying to sandblast things, and if you do have the compressor then you are better off with a cabinet over a pressure pot. Why do you think you need to strip it all down to an ‘as new’ condition? I would just degrease and paint as is or hit with some clear finish to keep things from rusting further, but maintaining the look of age. I think people want their streampunk stuff to look old, not like it came from HomeGoods or TJ Maxx (yes, I have see repro carts like these in department stores). What is going to happen with the wood – a light sand and varnish?

People clean cast iron pots and skillets in a big tub filled with water and lye, like Drano. Wear googles, old clothes and rubber gloves if you do that – it will take off all grease, most or all paint and possibly your skin and eyeballs. Google around, I think you need to add the Drano to the cold water (don’t pour water over powdered Drano or else it will react too quickly and blow up in your face). Soak for 24 hours and have tongs available to pull out your pieces and have a tub of clean water ready for a rinse. Your pieces will flash rust immediately so maybe have an air hose ready to blow all the water off.

View oltexasboy1's profile


255 posts in 2210 days

#7 posted 11-18-2014 07:45 PM

Muriatic acid is also something you can use ,not as expensive as Drano but acts the same way .Use protective clothing. When I was a mechanic we used muriatic acid a lot with good results.

-- "The pursuit of perfection often yields excellence"

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5350 posts in 2815 days

#8 posted 11-18-2014 08:34 PM

I sand blasted this cast iron band saw and sprayed it with rattle can “Hammerite” paint. Did this about 15 years ago. Still looks like the day I painted it.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View BasementShop's profile


69 posts in 1806 days

#9 posted 11-18-2014 11:08 PM

Still looks like the day I painted it.

Amazing detail! How did you get visual affect of sawdust into your paint job?!?

{chuckling.} Nice restoration!

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5227 posts in 4466 days

#10 posted 11-18-2014 11:24 PM

The HF unit that I have is a “soda blaster”. Works well with the A & H baking soda. Does take a lot of air, but it does a good job. Just don’t be in a hurry.
Prime and paint after the metal is clean.

-- [email protected]

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3580 posts in 3615 days

#11 posted 11-19-2014 03:00 AM

To clean I would recommend evaporust.

- lepelerin

Yes, and on cast iron don’t use an acid-based process, since if you don’t neutralize it well enough, the acid will continue to work into the grains of the metal, making it brittle. There will be a carbon “smut” left after any acidic treatment. There are all kinds of blogs on the internet, and this subject provides a bewildering array of them. Just make sure that all petroleum products are removed, because Evapo-Rust doesn’t cut through them.

I did use electrolysis on an old cast iron contractor’s saw body and had good luck, but it took a long time. So I shouldn’t slam the method, though I used a caustic solution instead of an acidic one. If you leave iron alloys in a caustic solution, you can come back later and find your article. The same cannot be said for leaving an iron item in an acidic solution. You may find nothing but sludge when you come back. That electrolysis process was a complete pain, and I took a risk on damaging my bathtub, even though I had the saw in a tote that I had bought. If I had cracked the spa tub, not only would my wife have been annoyed, I would have had to put in another, which I really don’t want to do.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View Rayne's profile


1225 posts in 2045 days

#12 posted 11-19-2014 03:14 AM

I third the Evaporust method as it is environmentally friendly, doesn’t smell bad, safe on the hands (yes, I used bare hands and it was fine), doesn’t ruin any finish (unless rust is Under the finish, then of course it’ll ruin it), gets ALL the rust off, and can be disposed of in the sewers. Just get a decent size container for the parts, let it soak completely under Evaporust overnight, and you’re done. Just wipe it down with water and dry it off. I used the stuff exclusively on my Jointer restore and it’s amazing.

View droppedtuning's profile


31 posts in 2306 days

#13 posted 11-19-2014 04:28 AM

i have at least 8 of these to do , so i think i will get a hf blaster tank and maybe build a cheap blast cabinet. thanks guys i appreciate it

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 3968 days

#14 posted 11-19-2014 04:51 AM

Electrolysis…..Why are you ruining the carts?

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their [email protected]

View droppedtuning's profile


31 posts in 2306 days

#15 posted 11-19-2014 04:55 AM

ruining the carts ?

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