Restoring a pair of cabinetmakers screwdrivers

Back in my ‘It’s a tool so I must have it’ phase a few years back I bought these two cabinetmakers screwdrivers. I must have needed them badly because they’ve been sitting in the bottom of a box ever since.

I still haven’t decided if I want to keep them or not but decided to restore them and see how they turned out first. Here’s what they looked like to begin with


First step was to take the rust off. I’d long ago learnt that nothing beats steel wool. I’ve done citric acid, rust remover, awire wheel in my grinder and sandpaper and steel wool works just as well as any of them and it leaves a finish closer to the original one.


This is how they looked once done.


After cleaning, you can see the makers mark clearly on the larger of the two


On the smaller one, the ferrule isn’t seated properly and there’s old paint in the gap, I’d guess these had been used to open and possibly stir paint sometime in their life.


I used a small scraper to clean out the paint then gently tapped the ferrule into place. It already had dents in it but I was careful not to add more


I gave the handles a cleaning with 1200 grit sandpaper being careful not to remove too much of the original finish, otherwise the old steel and the fresh handle would look strange


I gave them a coat of shellac mixed with a walnut stain. It looks thick and not great to start with, but I wanted a thick coat to get into all old scratches


Fine steel wool cleaned up the shellac and a few coats of beeswax later they were done. I still need to grind the tips square to get them working properly again but they came up pretty well. I still don’t know if I’ll keep them but at least I can see what they look like now.



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