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May 20, 2013 08:12 PM

Okay bought rusty knife at garage sale, now what?

How do I get the rust off? I bought a Dexter Russell 1376R ( 6" boning knife) for 25 cents. The old man tried to screw me by charging me 50 cents but I talked him back down to reality by purchasing some Golden Books also.

I know it's not an expensive knife but it is my first carbon steel and since it was so cheap, I don't really care if it gets damaged. There is no sharp edge on it at all.

I tried wd40 but it hasn't really worked. Any good suggestions before I try everything on the net?



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  1. I would use a vinegar soak, then steel wool, but be sure to neutralize the vinegar with washing soda afterward. Since it has a rosewood handle, I wouldn't dunk that in vinegar — just the blade.

    Depends on how much rust, though.

    1. Beat the hell out of it with a green scrubby by 3M, should work fine, little oil and good to go.

      1. Really depends how rusted. Minor rust a wet paper towel with Bon Ami, more rust, Brillo pad followed by a 3M greenie with cleanser, more rust a chemical bath and other abrasives.

        BTW for safety all aggressive scrubbing should be done with the blade laid flat. It is the only damn thing a glass board is good for.

        If you are going to use it for food no WD-40 or any other non food safe oil.



        10 Replies
        1. re: knifesavers

          Ack! already tried WD40. Is it no good now forever?

          Here are some pics.

          1. re: Jerseygirl111

            One more. See the black? Is that patina starting?

            1. re: Jerseygirl111

              My 6 of their 1376's and the 1378's all look just like that puppy. It will last longer than your grandchildren, using mine for many decades, just about my fav knife for kitchen.

              1. re: Jerseygirl111

                Yes patina from use. Use yellow mustard and bubble wrap until looks as desired. Puts a dotted black pattern on it - instead of rust. The good news is carbon steel knives sharpen EZ, seem sharper, and often stay sharp longer than others.

                If not happy with the look can force a patina on your carbon steel knife. Maybe clean it some before if want a uniform looking end-result. Will help keep it from the rust reaction when use with food, water, & acid. Minimize moisture, wash then dry when use, how to force patina, and more tips are here:

                The ultimate to clean it up would be have it bead blasted then sanded smooth with higher and higher numbers of emery cloth or sand paper to remove any pitting or rough spots leaving it clean but exposed (simply sanding without bead blasting also works). Sharpen. Then use bubble wrap and mustard to force desired look with a patina.

              2. re: Jerseygirl111

                Nice find for $.25 That is post cleaning right? If not that is minor to moderate rusting.

                No problem removing the WD-40 when you scrub it down with a greenie and cleanser then soap and water.

                Ensure the dark areas are smooth. The more texture to it the worse rust is. When removed deep dark spots can remain which is not a problem. Ensure there are no pits in it

                Oil wise the best is Tsubaki (Camellia) oil.


                Mineral oil will do in a pinch.


                1. re: knifesavers

                  This is after I scrubbed off the wd40/rust spots with a Choreboy, washed it with Dawn then dried it. The red rust is gone, now just the black marks, which are totally smooth to the blade, remain. There is no pitting in the metal.

                  1. re: Jerseygirl111

                    Sounds like it is ready to sharpen and use then.

                    A deep patina gets black anyhow so you may have some accelerated areas.

                    No reason to take a carbon steel to high polish because the first onion or meat you cut will darken it.


                    1. re: knifesavers

                      Ok, I scrubbed the sucker with BKF, then buffed it with the dremel, then sharpened it. The black is much lighter but not gone. It is now shiny but still stained looking if that makes sense. It does seem sharper than my Henckels but the blade is much thinner.

                      Thank you everyone for all your help! Next townwide garage sale? September!

                      1. re: Jerseygirl111

                        A girl with a THERE'S a babe!

            2. I agree wit knifesavers. It really depends on the level of rust. If it is minor, you can use many household cleaners to remove rust, Bon Ami, Bar Keeper Friends, white vinegar. If the rust is deep and extensive, then you will need power tools.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                BKF with a soft sponge. Work with the grain of the knife. Usually from spine to edge.

              2. Hi, Jerseygirl:

                Given what I see in your photos, I would hit it with Naval Jelly first, then about 400 grit emery cloth wrapped around a file. If you want it smooth(er), grab a pack of assorted automotive sandpaper and work from coarse to fine, changing the angle 90 degrees at each change.

                If you don't have all this stuff laying around, you'd be time and money ahead just to send it to knifesavers and have him do it.