How to Clean Rust and Fire Damage from Hand Tools


Wayne asked:  How do I clean hand tools that were in a shop fire? I need to know the best way to clean rust and fire damage from hand tools that were in a shop fire. The tools got really hot. They still work well.

When hand tools are exposed to extreme heat, the formation of the tool itself does not change, but the service is virtually always affected in some way. This cleaning method will remove soot and acid from fire damage, remove rust and even protect tools from humidity and other natural corrosive elements. All you have to do is follow these steps.

You Will Need:

  • WD-40
  • Rust Free and T9 (for heavy rust)
  • Heavy Duty Scotch-Brite Scouring Pads or similar
  • Clean rags

Steps to Remove the Damage:

  1. Spray the tools down with WD-40. It works as a degreaser for soot and also loosens rust to metal bonds, so it pulls double duty against tools with rust and fire damage.
  2. Scrub the tools with a scouring pad. Remove as much of the surface discoloration as possible.
  3. Use a rag to wipe off the remaining residue. Once removed, you can evaluate the condition and see what steps to move forward with.
  4. If the surface is almost clean, just repeat the steps above. If rust remains, clean with Rust Free rust remover. Apply as directed, then clean with scouring pads.
  5. Once clean, apply a protective coat of T9. It works to prevent rust and corrosion with a thin, waxy film.
  6. Wipe off excess lubricants/protectants immediately.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Don’t clean tools with sand paper. It scratches metal and will ultimately lead to further problems down the road.
  • Offer further protection for tools by storing them with vapor corrosion strips.


  1. Kyle says:

    Can you use T9 on scissors? Would it affect the cutting ability? I have an extensive set of bonsai tools and am looking for a better way of preserving them.

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