How to do anodic electrocleaning?
#11
To restore some of my old Disston hand saws, I decided to try electrolysis. As these are spring steel saws, an article that deals with the two types of electrocleaning caught my attention. Particularly this part:

"Any work negatively affected by hydrogen embrittlement (e.g. spring steel) should not be cleaned cathodically unless adequate steps are taken after processing to relieve the hydrogen."

Cathodic cleaning is the way how most guys do electrocleaning on Youtube; connecting the negative side of the power source to the part intended to be cleaned. To do anodic cleaning however, an article online says:

"In anodic electrocleaning, the item being cleaned is connected to the positive side of the DC power source; it is made the anode. It is then suspended in the cleaner and steel or lead anodes are hung round the side of the tank and attached to the negative side of the power source, becoming the cathodes."

So far it is clear for me what to do, but further on in this article there are parts that makes me confused. First of all:

"For anodic cleaning using low voltages, between 3 – 12 volts DC, is normal. Current densities vary from 10–15 A per square foot"

What is A per square foot? If I use this charger, will it do?
https://www.amazon.com/STANLEY-BC15BS-Ba...B01BM51QD6

The second problem is:
"Anodic cleaning is generally performed in a solution with a basic pH to facilitate the oxidation reaction"

I checked and Washing Soda is basic when dissolved in water, so it will work for anodic cleaning, won't it?


Besides all this I am a bit confused on why people on Youtube use Washing Soda for electrocleaning when they connect the tool to be cleaned to the negative side of the charger? The article on electrocleaning that I read clearly says:

"cathodic electrocleaning is where the workpiece is made the cathode and a reduction reaction occurs at the surface. In this case, the pH of the system needs to be acidic"

Washing Soda dissolved in water is basic. How is it then that everyone recommends this for cathodic cleaning? Theoretically it is not the proper maetrial to use, but acid should be used instead.
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#12
(04-08-2019, 04:26 PM)Bencuri Wrote: So far it is clear for me what to do, but further on in this article there are parts that makes me confused. First of all:

"For anodic cleaning using low voltages, between 3 – 12 volts DC, is normal. Current densities vary from 10–15 A per square foot"

What is A per square foot? If I use this charger, will it do?
https://www.amazon.com/STANLEY-BC15BS-Ba...B01BM51QD6
I believe I can clear up one small part of your question:

"A" is amps (amperes) --- a measure of the flow of electrical current.
The product you've linked to is rated at 15 amps, apparently.
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#13
I know A means amperes, I was just not sure what "Amperes per square foot" means. Like: is it enough to check the A level feature of the charger, or need to check some other thing, too.
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#14
I'd be interested in the link to the article you mentioned, as it pertains to spring steel, as I don't know of anyone with street cred who rehabs saws that uses electrolysis. If you are trying it, I'd use beater saws first to see how it goes. Personally, I scrape, sand and polish saw plates; no chemicals, no electrolysis.
Credo Elvem ipsum etiam vivere
Non impediti ratione cogitationis
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#15
I'm no electrical engineer, but I do know that 15 amp DC current in a liquid conductor, acidic or basic, can kill you if not handled properly. The voltage doesn't matter. Do your research and be careful.
Sandpaper and WD-40 works for me to rehab old saws.
Regards,
Mike B.

One thing is for certain though. Whichever method you use, you can be absolutely certain that you are most assuredly doing it wrong.
                Axehandle, 2/24/2016

Do not get in to much of a hurry buddy... Arlin, 5/18/2022
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#16
(04-09-2019, 10:16 AM)Admiral Wrote: I'd be interested in the link to the article you mentioned, as it pertains to spring steel, as I don't know of anyone with street cred who rehabs saws that uses electrolysis.  If you are trying it, I'd use beater saws first to see how it goes.  Personally, I scrape, sand and polish saw plates; no chemicals, no electrolysis.

........................
This lapidary grit along with a little baby oil works really well when you make a ball out of aluminum foil and use it as a rubber on the saw blade, Rich...a little goes a long way..Wipe the blade clean and finish with the rubber and some auto cleaner/polish like Mother's brand..You may be able to get the grit cheaper at a local Lapidary shop.

https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Tumbler-Grit...=8-1-fkmr3
"If you don't read newspapers you're uninformed...If you do read newspapers, you're misinformed.....Mark Twain

Jack Edgar, Sgt. USMC Korea, the Forgotten War 50/55
Get off my lawn !
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#17
https://www.pfonline.com/articles/better...rocleaning
Search for Anodic cleaning and Spring steel in this one.

https://www.gaterosplating.co.uk/alkaline-cleaning
https://www.pfonline.com/articles/electrolytic-cleaning
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#18
I advise against the use of electrolysis for purposes of restoring saws, just as I don't recommend naval jelly or wire brushing or citric acid soaks.  Each of these results in an undesireable side effect, be it danger to the operator or damage to the saw plate.  Burnishing a saw plate with a green Scotch brite pad lubed with WD-40 (or a detergent solution if you are averse to petro-chemicals) will do the job as well as can be done.  A pre-scrape with a razor blade and lube will benefit a rusty saw plate.  I use a block of wood to back up the Scotch-Brite and burnish only along the length of the plate as they typically will have garinding marks that are longitudinal and you want to follow those.  You can use a lighter touch around etches, but most of them are too shallow to survive derusting of any type.  It is almost impossible to save the etch on a really rusty saw plate, but avoid using anything abrasive on the etch itself.

I know I'm not answering your question, and I had great success on hand plane parts using electrolysis, but at least use a worthless saw to try it the first time. More than any tool, the handsaw depends on good as-found condition to get good restoration results.
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#19
(04-09-2019, 03:05 PM)Bencuri Wrote: https://www.pfonline.com/articles/better...rocleaning
Search for Anodic cleaning and Spring steel in this one.

https://www.gaterosplating.co.uk/alkaline-cleaning
https://www.pfonline.com/articles/electrolytic-cleaning

Your first link has this in it: "... anodic electrocleaning for final cleaning. When you do, the metal surface is actually being dissolved as well as cleaned."
Dissolving away a bit of the surface immediately before electroplating more metal on top (the topic of the discussion at your link) makes some sense.  The idea there is to make sure the metal surface is clean enough to bond to the new metal plating.  Notice it is only used for "final cleaning" and not for cleaning off a lot of dirt.

But if your goal is to clean crud off of a dirty surface, you probably don't want to use an approach that erodes the metal away from the already clean areas, which anodic cleaning will do.  Cathodic cleaning prevents metal oxidation (rust) while anodic cleaning encourages it, and requires nastier solutions that will dissolve away that rust. If you are worried about hydrogen embrittlement, I think your better bet is to follow the advice above and use a physical method for removing crud.  That's what I've also done for saw plates.

Incidentally, "Current densities vary from 10–15 A per square foot" means that you need to figure out the square footage of metal exposed to the electroplating solution, and adjust the total amount of current you use so you have between 10 and 15 amps per square foot of exposed metal for the procedure to work right.
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#20
Hmm, actually I did not pay attention to this metal dissolving thing, that is definately not very charming, especially when 10-15A only refers to per square foot. I am sure the surface of the saw is more than one square foot.
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