How to Restore an Old Hand-Cranked Grinder

Because your old hand-cranked grinder deserves it.
Christopher McFadden

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Who doesn't like old hand-powered tools? The problem is, oftentimes, they become rusty and effectively unusable.

Fear not, with a little tender-loving-care, these old veteran tools can be brought back to life. Here is how you can do it for yourself using an example hand-cranked grinder. 

Fun, fun.

handcrank grinder complete
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Like any project of this nature, you are going to need a few bits and bobs. For this build, you will need:

With all the materials needed in hand, it is time to get on with the restoration.

The first stage is to dismantle the hand crank. Take your time, and be careful not to damage any rusted components. 

This may take some elbow-grease if the hand-cranked grinder is in particularly poor condition. 

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Also, be careful to keep notes of where each part goes, and make sure you don't lose any parts. You will be reassembling the device once the restoration is complete. 

For the more stubborn parts, you may need to slightly file down some of the edges to remove them. Perhaps you'll need to place them in a vice to make levering off easier— like for rusted gear, etc. Again, apply force, but be careful not to break and older parts. 

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Next, take all the metal components and place them into a large container. Submerge the components in a mild acid, like regular malt vinegar. You might also need to tape over any of the non-rusty parts too. 

This will help loosen up any rust on the parts to make the restoration that little bit easier. 

handcrank grinder restore vinegar
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Wait a bit, and then remove the parts from their vinegar bath. Make sure you wear rubber gloves for this part. 

Now scrub off the excess vinegar, and rusty bits, using a sponge and clean water. You can do this in your sink. 

handcranked grinder restore clean
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Next, take your cleaned (and dried) parts and polish them up. You can do this by hand, or by using a metal brush attachment on your workbench, Dremel, or power drill. 

handcrank grinder polish
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Take your time, and continue until all the rust coating has been completely removed from all parts. Also, make sure to WATCH YOUR FINGERS at all times!

Next, clean all surfaces of the parts using an industrial solvent and some rags. Make sure you take precautions as well. Ensure good ventilation and wear gloves. 

handcrank grinder restore solvent
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Once complete, repaint and parts that require it. You can do this by hand, or by using some metallic effect spray paints. Try to match the existing color as much as possible, or, alternatively, completely repaint them.

handcrank grinder spray paint
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Next, sand down and buff the wooden parts like handles. 

handcrank grinder restore handle
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Now, begin to reassemble the hand-cranked grinder. Ensure you are matching up the pieces truthfully to the original piece. 

Some minor modifications may be needed as you go.  

handcranked grinder reassemble
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Ensure you liberally lubricate any of the moving metallic parts, especially gears, etc. This will keep them moving freely and help reduce the build-up of rust over time.

handcranked grinder restore lubricate
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Continue the reassembly and test any moving parts — like the main crank. It should move smoothly and freely. 

If not, disassemble again and apply more lubricant, as required. 

handcrank grinder test
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Take care with smaller parts, and gently tap more stubborn pieces, like bolts or pins, into their respective places, as needed. 

handcrank grinder hammer
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This particular hand-cranked grinder was designed to be mounted on a table edge, so you can also test that function too, as you reassemble the piece. Add the grinder stone, and secure it into place too. 

handcrank grinder table
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With that stage complete, your old hand-cranked grinder restoration is effectively complete. You can now test it by sharping, or grinding, some metal things that need it. 

You can either use the original grindstone or replace it with a more modern one. 

handcrank grinder working
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Happy grinding!

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