How to get rust off jewellery tools

Written by Harriet Kelsall on 10 November 2015

My dad recently gave me his jewellery tools which is fantastic – they are a really good quality set of tools and the ones that I learned with many years ago.  However they had sat in his shed unused for about a year and had got very rusty.


I did a bit of research and discovered that you can get rust off tools by soaking them in white distilled vinegar.  I was a bit worried about this though because jewellery tools are small and fine and I didn’t want to damage them.  However, the layer of rust was so thick that it was a bit of a “kill or cure” situation.


I found it hard to find the right kind of vinegar but eventually got hold or some in a larger Tesco store and it was very cheap – something like 35p a bottle I think.


I soaked them overnight and in the morning was amazed to see that the vinegar had done a lot of work loosening the rust.  I then used a steel brush (I got mine on e-bay) and worked on each file in turn scrubbing away at the now loosened rust under a gently running tap.


It worked really well and the tools are perfect again.  I was amazed as I think many people would have assumed they were beyond repair and chucked them out.  Some needed 2 or 3 overnight soaks and scrubs but they are as good as new now. 


Next I will chalk them before I start using them (chalking your jewellery files every now and then before use stops the teeth clogging up with precious metal and means that you need to sharpen them less often with file acid).

Do be a little careful not to leave delicate tools in vinegar for too long as with fine tools it can start to effect the smaller parts.  But for my needle files there have been no problems at all.


I read more recently that you can also use coca-cola for de-rusting tools but I haven’t tried this myself.