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Tips, Techniques, and Questions -- Technical questions or tips

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  #1  
Old 2009-05-20, 8:36pm
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Default Easy trick for removing rust from skeleton keys

My apologies if this has been posted somewhere else.

I bought some keys from a local antique store and also scored 20 keys from the garage sale for cheap. I was going to get some rust remover from a hardware store, but I decided to look up removing rust from metal over the ol' interweb.

Put the key(s) in a bowl. Cover them generously with baking soda. Mix lemon juice until it's a thick, chunky paste and let them soak for a few minutes. Take a hard bristled brush (I have a small brass wire brush I used, looks like a mini grill brush, but I think anything somewhat stiff would work) and scrub the paste into the keys. Rinse with hot water and dry off really well. I wish I would have taken before pictures. Some of these keys look bread freakin' new now.
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  #2  
Old 2009-05-20, 9:49pm
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Wow, thanks for the tip! I have a lot of 20 that need this "treatment" before I put beads on them.

Much appreciated!
De
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  #3  
Old 2009-05-21, 4:46am
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Excellent timing! I was gonna see if tumbling would help on a bunch I just found. They don't have much rust but the little bit they have needs to come off.

Sue
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  #4  
Old 2009-05-21, 5:46am
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A wire brush wheel works great for removing the rust off the keys......I purchased a lot of 77 keys off Ebay, and the wire wheel makes pretty quick work of it......it also gives them a nice brushed finish too, great for adhering the glass to!
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  #5  
Old 2009-05-21, 5:49am
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I'd like to get my rusty first - I jsut bought some and they have a shiney coating on them that looks too new - I've been thinking about acid to take the finish off and then worry about removing the rust.
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  #6  
Old 2009-05-21, 8:23am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sue in Maine View Post
Excellent timing! I was gonna see if tumbling would help on a bunch I just found. They don't have much rust but the little bit they have needs to come off.

Sue
Tumbling works great! I just used water, a drop of Dawn, and stainless steel shot.

I started doing mine by hand like Traci but it was too much work for me because of the number of keys I have. It's certainly a good method for a small number of keys. My paste was made up of olive oil and salt.
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  #7  
Old 2009-05-21, 9:08am
cswilson53 cswilson53 is offline
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I also tumbled my rusty keys with Dawn dish soap .....just a warning --- I cleaned the keys - rinsed out the shot - then put in some fine silver headpins ---- obviously I hadn't cleaned the shot enough as the fine silver headpins ended up with some rust on them......so redid a cycle in the tumbler of just shot and more Dawn!!
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  #8  
Old 2009-05-21, 9:12am
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Cool to know tumbling can work too. Thanks!

And I'm doing a lot of copy/paste today but want to add this here cuz it's related to keys. My question is do we have any metal fumes to worry about with putting beads on keys. I posted in both the safety forum and the potty (cuz it gets a lot of traffic in there). The link below is to the safety forum. The "quote" below that is NMLinda's reply in the bathroom. I don't want her post to be lost at midnight so... copy/paste. The dinosaur can learn!

Sue

********

I posted a question in the safety forum on keys and fumes from keys. Dale replied and I'm posting the link here.

http://www.lampworketc.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=130099

I also posted the same question in the bathroom cuz it gets a lot of traffic and NMLinda posted a reply that I'm doing a copy/paste of because it's important information.

Sue
******

Hi Sue - I saw your thread in Safety, as did Dale. For the benefit of folks here, he pointed out that the keys you are using could be coated with such common metals as zinc, nickle and chromium, zinc being fairly bad stuff. Because I was interested in your question, I looked up chromium - always thought of it as being pretty inert, and was surprised to find that the fumes have a toxicity level that also needs to be considered. If you are using brass keys, you'll probably want to look up the constituents - brass is an alloy of copper, zinc and other traces (like lead). Copper, like zinc, can also have toxicity levels that can be serious to lampworkers (I credit Amy Oulette for sharing her experiences on health concerns with copper inclusions in her work). In heating the metal, it may no longer keep the inert chemical composition it has at room temperature.

In working with keys, you're heating up a larger mass of metal than is typical for most lampworking, so you would be releasing more fumes of the constituent metals than is typical. I'm no expert in how much exposure is safe vs not - you'll want to do your own research - but in addition to understanding the health risks, I would research how workers in industries that use these materials at very high temperatures protect themselves. You might gain some insights as to whether your ventilation system is good enough for what you're doing, if you need to beef it up - or, even if it's great, do you also need to wear a very good fume-filtering face mask.

Great question, by the way. It's so easy to pick up common or found items that are perfectly safe at room temperature and forget to consider what happens at high temperatures.

Linda
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  #9  
Old 2009-05-21, 9:40am
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Exclamation This was a surprise....

I was working on a key the other day, I had used bead release a couple of times on it because I like the bead to move, and the dingdang key caught fire. Here I was, winding glass around a key that was spouting flame out the end like a cigarette lighter.

Glad I had my new Key Mandrel! Hemostats heat up.

Reading your post on fumes made me think of that.....

Desa, the unintentional pyro
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  #10  
Old 2009-05-21, 4:43pm
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Thanks for copying both Dale's and my info over here, Sue. I'm flattered and glad you found our responses helpful.

Oh boy, Desa, I hope you weren't hurt, and hope you had really good ventilation! If I had to guess, your key might have been zinc coated. Dale can help me out here if he's reading, but I believe zinc is a common coating on steel.

Swamper mentioned in Sue's other thread that she was looking into the best ways to remove any coatings and get to the key's base metal. Putting them in a tumbler to remove rust, as folks are discussing here, might be another way to remove coatings, too.

I love the work folks have been posting with their beads on keys, by the way - very unique, beautiful and distinctive!

Linda
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  #11  
Old 2009-05-21, 6:40pm
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Default I'm vented, kinda...

I have one of Lowe's Best over-the-stove type range hoods, hung approximately 24 inches over my glass table. It's vented out to the greenhouse. (We finished the vent system in the wintertime, and have to finish venting the next room. I would post the picture of it, but I have no idea how to do that).

Anyway, the key didn't do anything except hang there and burn for a minute or two. I thought it was funny really, wish I had a camera and all that.

I sat right in front of a small tornado while in my car one stormy day and didn't realize what that was either.

Zinc. Why is it that the most fun stuff is the dangerous stuff?????

It just proves that God looks after Fools and little kids and I haven't been a little kid for decades.
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  #12  
Old 2009-05-21, 8:25pm
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[quote=FyreFiend;2504300]Zinc. Why is it that the most fun stuff is the dangerous stuff?????
QUOTE]

Another great question! What I liked about Sue's, too, is that I would have done the same thing as you, her, and anyone else - I'd have just dove in without realizing I needed to think about the composition of the key and probably got the same surprise as you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FyreFiend View Post
I have one of Lowe's Best over-the-stove type range hoods, hung approximately 24 inches over my glass table. It's vented out to the greenhouse. (We finished the vent system in the wintertime, and have to finish venting the next room. I would post the picture of it, but I have no idea how to do that).
I don't know much about Lowe's line, but, if your hood is 30" long and you haven't added any sides to enclose it, you'll need a minimum of 625 cm of fan capability (2.5' x 2' x 125 = 650 cfm) - more if you have any bends or appreciable lengths of ducting into the green house, and WAY more if you're using flexible ducting. The only commercially available kitchen fan I've seen that even comes close to that is one that Dale M. had posted a link to a while back. It had 900 cfm.

Since your key burned for a minute or two, it had to have had a fairly thick coating - and released a significant amount of potentially toxic fumes.

Your experience is valuable in that it seems very wise to remove any coating on a key, first, regardless of the type of base metal, and if working on brass keys, make sure you have superb ventilation and maybe also the right fume-blocking face mask.

I personally like how the antique iron key/bead combinations look, rust and all, but folks who prefer brass or a more metallic looking finish might want to mask the bead off and plate after the fact. That would at least minimize exposure to any potential problematic fumes.

Glad your ok, Desa!

Linda
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  #13  
Old 2009-05-21, 9:26pm
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Red face yeah, I'm ok but...

apparently my vent system isn't. It is only 300 CFM, with flexible hosing and no additions to funnel fumes towards the fan. #@&*!!

I spent a lot on that thing, plus the pain and tears for two fat old women to install it themselves. (me and mom).

I have noticed, though, that the flexible tubing clearly has air moving through it because it moves. And, I can't smell the silver like I could before I installed the vent so please tell me I did something right....



Desa the Lucky??

PS: yeah, silver really reeks when it is burning. that was my first clue that I needed a better vent that my box fan at the patio door.....
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  #14  
Old 2009-05-22, 7:57am
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I imagine a casing cleaner (I have no idea what it's really called) would work well for cleaning keys. You know, one of those vibrating machines with a tub full of abrasive sand that's used to clean used cartridges and casings on a shooting range so they can be reused? You wouldn't have to use any soap, and sand is cheap.
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  #15  
Old 2009-05-22, 9:02am
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Desa - I'm impressed that you and your mother installed your vent system yourselves! What's also wonderful is that, wisely, you installed a system. I've seen studio posts with no ventilation whatsoever.

I'm so sorry to disappoint you, however, but I think your current system is way underpowered for what you're doing, especially given your 'event'. I'd bet you're not getting anywhere near even 300 cfm actual protection, mostly because of the flex. I once tried making a small, barley box style vent hood with a 250 cfm Home Depot kitchen fan. I used 7" diameter flexible ducting, and only had to go 2.5' to 3' to vent it outside. Figured, how bad can that be? Even with that large a duct and such a short run, the flexible duct loaded the fan so badly that it could barely turn on. I ended up having to throw the whole mess out. To make yours work at least to standard venting code, you'd have to lower it to no more than about 12" off your work bench, add sides and a back, and replace the flex with smooth-walled ducting (easy to do, actually, the sections just push together and can then be taped). Given how tall or short you are, that may or may not be a convenient working height.

If it's not, and given that you and your mom have a handy streak, you can make a far, far better one, perhaps for not much more than you paid for your current hood. Here's a link to some great info that can walk you through how to do it:

http://mikeaurelius.wordpress.com/ventilation-primer/

There's really good info in Safety and Studio, too, and lots of other great info on the Art Glass Answers board. Please feel free to PM me, too, if you have more questions.

If you'd prefer to install a better, but pre-made hood, Dale M posted a link to a kitchen vent hood with 900 cfm - only kitchen hood I've seen with enough oomph to support what most of us like to do. You might PM him and ask him if he still has the link handy. He has some great posts on Art Glass Answers that are well worth reading, also.

In the meantime, you might want to very seriously consider wearing a protective mask, like a 3M P100 or N100. These are relatively inexpensive. Even folks with excellent ventillation will wear these when fuming (or working with fine powders like enamels or frit). Your experience suggests that keys may sometimes have a thick coating, and you may inadvertently be 'fuming' if you can't get it off first.

You'll also want to do your own research, of course, to be sure you're sufficiently protected, whether it's a better vent system, mask, combination or something in addition.

My appologies to everyone for going off-topic a bit. A number of wonderful folks on LE have shared their health concerns from insufficient ventilation and heavy metal poisoning. I felt Sue asked a great question on her companion thread about working with keys safely and that Desa's experience with the 'flaming key' was valuable. Since there are entire industries that work with metals at high temperatures, I'm sure there are other safety practices that can be adapted to minimize health concerns when working more unique items like keys. Swamper seemed to be thinking along those lines in her post about her investigations into removing coatings. There might be other great cross-industry ideas (like using Dawn or lemon juice/baking soda) for cleaning keys, too.

Linda
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  #16  
Old 2009-05-22, 9:05am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NMLinda View Post
Thanks for copying both Dale's and my info over here, Sue. I'm flattered and glad you found our responses helpful.



Linda

Linda,

I'm flattered that you're flattered but really I just want my LE family safe. I didn't want to lose the info you hunted up.

Sue
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  #17  
Old 2009-05-24, 5:16am
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As I was getting ready to go key hunting I read this post. Great information but now I am totally perplexed on what type of metal I should ask about. I am going to an AmVets flea market .

Any way to avoid some of this problem before I make a purchase??

Thanks

Anne
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  #18  
Old 2009-05-24, 6:39am
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Just found the other threads....duh....
A day late and a dollar short all the time....
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Old 2009-05-25, 1:03pm
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Very cool, thanks. I just picked up a couple of small but interestingly shaped keys at a flea market today. I'll give this cleaning method a try later.

-Ona-
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Old 2009-06-22, 1:31pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaryBeth View Post
Tumbling works great! I just used water, a drop of Dawn, and stainless steel shot.

I started doing mine by hand like Traci but it was too much work for me because of the number of keys I have. It's certainly a good method for a small number of keys. My paste was made up of olive oil and salt.


How long do you tumble the keys to get the rust off of them?

thanks!
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  #21  
Old 2009-06-22, 2:33pm
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ok, never mind as I checked after about an hour and all but 4 keys were clean of rust out of about 15.

I'll keep the rust on 4 just in case someone likes that style .
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Old 2009-06-22, 4:37pm
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one of the best things i've found to clean off rust is coke - just let it soak overnight
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  #23  
Old 2009-06-22, 8:39pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeadDesignsByCarol View Post
ok, never mind as I checked after about an hour and all but 4 keys were clean of rust out of about 15.

I'll keep the rust on 4 just in case someone likes that style .
I see you found the answer
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  #24  
Old 2009-06-22, 9:03pm
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Yes, thank you, Mary Beth. Are there some that just won't come clean for you, too, or do you just tumble them longer?

Thanks!
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  #25  
Old 2009-06-23, 12:34pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeadDesignsByCarol View Post
Yes, thank you, Mary Beth. Are there some that just won't come clean for you, too, or do you just tumble them longer?

Thanks!
Usually, I just let them be if a little rust is left on them. I figure if it won't come off in the tumbler it won't be coming off on someone's clothes. And, I like the patina that most of the keys have.
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