A neglected tool has an odd, magnetic power. It pulls you in. Pick it up and the next thing you know, you're scraping away rust with your thumbnail, trying to make out the manufacturer's name. You vaguely recall how you came by it: a tag sale, or your father-in-law, or a neighbor who was moving away. "Everybody has them, these little hidden jewels," says contributing editor Richard Romanski, a fine woodworker and unrepentant tool collector."\n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\nRestoring them is pretty easy." We gathered a bunch of forlorn implements and went to work in his studio, a cavernous former church in North Salem, New York. We found that all it takes is some basic chemistry and a little work to salvage tools that look like they've been sitting on the bottom of the ocean for a century or two.This ball-peen-hammer head looked dead before we removed the rust, polished the bare steel, applied a glossy enamel, and added a life-affirming new handle.A rusty, wobbly table sawA table saw that earns its keep in an unheated garage, shop, or barn will soon rust. Condensation forms on its steel and cast-iron parts because they are cooler than the surrounding air (1). The rust makes it difficult to slide a piece of plywood across the table, which should be smooth and nonabrasive. It also makes it hard to raise and lower the blade or adjust its tilt. This early 1980s Craftsman saw cost $80 at a church auction. Its table was rusty, and its parts had been thrown out of alignment.The first step was to move the saw to a warm, dry workshop. We took it off its rolling stand and hoisted it into a Ford F-150, then drove it down the street to Romanski's studio.Next came disassembly. We unbolted the cast-iron wings from each side of the saw and removed the motor. We were pleased to find that the motor was a commercial-duty type with twin capacitors\u2013one to start the motor turning and another to provide extra kick to the run winding. The motor's shaft and pulley were all in good shape. We used compressed air to blow accumulated sawdust and cobwebs out of the saw's cavity.\n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\nNext came removal of surface rust from the saw's table and wings. We wet down the surface with kerosene as a cutting lubricant and left it alone to penetrate while we ate lunch. To buff the rust away, we chucked up a variable-speed electric drill with a 2.5-inch abrasive nylon cup brush embedded with 240-grit aluminum oxide. At a low 500 rpm, with a back-and-forth movement, the brush removed the rust without marring the surface.We mounted the wings back on the saw and found that we could align them with the saw table by flexing them slightly and carefully tapping them into position with a dead-blow hammer.After placing a new 10-inch carbide blade on the arbor (the shaft the blade goes on), Romanski used a machinist's square to ensure the blade was perpendicular to the table. With the blade at 90 degrees, the pointer on the saw's tilt scale should read 0 degrees\u2014if not, the pointer is moved to the zero mark. Next we adjusted the fence and its locking mechanism to make it snug, a fussy trial-and-error process. With the saw blade raised to its full height, we used a pair of steel rulers to check that the fence was parallel to the blade at the front and back.The tuneup was completed when Romanski reinstalled the motor and used a long steel ruler to align its pulley with the pulley on the saw's arbor shaft. We buffed on a coat of paste wax to provide rust protection and bolted the saw to its stand. Once it was in place, we made a few test cuts on some scrap pine to check for alignment. It was perfect (6).Corroded hand tools\n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\n\n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\nRusty tools turn up in the garden shed of the house you just bought. A friend gives you a boxful of them. Often their handles are rotted away and their steel is so rusty that you could get tetanus just by looking at them.To restore a pile of ball-peen-hammer heads and a couple of hatchets, we first removed what was left of their handles. We sawed off the handle stubs using a handsaw, then clamped each head in a machinist's vise and used a punch to knock out the remainder of the handle.Corrosion removal began in earnest when we submerged the heads in a bucket containing 1 gallon of white vinegar, an inexpensive supermarket item. We covered the bucket with a piece of plywood and let the parts soak. After about four hours we took a few out and tried scrubbing off the rust with No. 1 steel wool, and wouldn't you know it, a little came off. There was hope. We dunked the tools back in the vinegar overnight, then hit them again with steel wool. (Steel wool is available in eight grades of coarseness, ranging from superfine, No. 0000, to extra-coarse, No. 4. We had good results with No. 1 wool, but you may need to go more or less coarse, depending on the amount of corrosion.) The rust came off. We rinsed the tools thoroughly in clear water to remove any last trace of vinegar and wiped them dry.\n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\nSeverely pitted surfaces were then smoothed out using a 100-grit abrasive on a disc sander, and heinous damage\u2014metal that had been peened over by a hammer blow, for example\u2014was rectified by clamping the head in a machinist's vise and hand-filing the surface smooth. Finally, the tools were wiped clean with mineral spirits, primed with a rust-preventive metal primer (we used spray-on Rust-Oleum), and painted with a gloss alkyd enamel. Cutting edges on the hatchets were hand-honed on a series of water stones used for woodworking tools. We completed each tool by fitting a hickory handle through the cavity in the head.Dull precision toolsBegin restoring any precision tool with a careful disassembly, separating corroded parts from the clean ones. In the case of the smooth plane pictured above, the body was not as badly corroded as it looked. We removed most of the rust with a hand wire brush. Then we lapped the sole of the plane on a succession of abrasive papers, beginning with 60-grit and proceeding through 1,000-grit. We taped the paper to a workbench that has a dead-flat laminate surface and slid the plane body over the paper, swapping it end for end every six passes. We used a few drops of odorless mineral spirits as our cutting lubricant. The body came out flat and smooth, with only minor pitting.\n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\n\n\tAdvertisement - Continue Reading Below\n\t\n\nPrecision tools require careful\u2014okay, fussy\u2014restoration and adjustmentNext we sharpened the plane iron on a horizontal wet sharpening wheel and even honed its back surface so that it was flat several inches behind the cutting edge. This ensures that the chip breaker will tightly mount to it and not allow wood shavings to be trapped and torn off.After sharpening, we took the lever cap and the plane iron's chip breaker and buffed them out on a muslin buffing wheel with jewelers red rouge polishing compound.Romanski has more than forty years of woodworking experience, so he did the final inspection of the plane iron. He followed the machine honing with a careful trip over his water stones, leaving the plane iron with a mirror finish. He assembled and adjusted the plane and took it for a test drive on a piece of clear white pine. The result was a tool that cuts perfectly, taking long, silky-smooth shavings with every pass.