Last Christmas, my Nana asked me what Garrett and I would like, and the only thing we could think of was a horseshoe to hang up in our home for some good luck.
We were expecting just a regular horseshoe, but Nana really surprised us when we unwrapped not just any horseshoe, but one that seemed to be pretty old! Judging by similar ones we found online, it is at least 100 years old. We were stoked!
In the end, after some intense sniffing from Whiskey, we decided to keep it and see if we could clean it up a bit. I was curious to see what was under all the layers of rust and petrified dirt. It would affect any value it might have, but we couldn’t resist having this hanging up like we’d planned.
I started by doing some research on how to remove rust from other iron antique tools, like shovels and hammers. There were plenty of chemical suggestions, but I also saw some people mentioning how effective undiluted white vinegar can be. I’ve had great experience using it to clean mineral deposits around our faucets, so I thought why not give it a try.
I placed the horseshoe in a flat bucket, and submerged it in white vinegar. I let it soak for 24 hours and then gave it a scrub with an old toothbrush (a stiff brush would have been better). I replaced the vinegar and let it soak for another 24 hours.
Then using a combination of the toothbrush/stiff brush, toothpicks, an old flathead screwdriver and some old fashioned elbow grease, I was able to get most of the rust off. I was shocked by how quickly it started to look like iron again!
Here is a little before and after. I thought that the rust and gunk in the grooves and holes was stuck there for good, but I was eventually able to dislodge it with some poking and scrubbing.
The back came up much cleaner. We’re planning to try and snip off the majority of the nails in the back. This will make it easier to hang up and prevent scratches. (I’ve already stabbed myself…twice.)
Now that we have it clean, it is just a matter of how we refinish it. It can be coated in a protective oil and left au natural, or we can paint it.
We made a trip to a local hardware store for some advice and they suggested that we use a spray paint that is a paint and primer combo, like Rustoleum.
We have a choice of two different finishes that can produce different results:
1) Eggshell or flat finish to highlight all the imperfections (bumps, scratches, remaining rust deposits)
2) Glossy or satin finish to blend most of it together, but still highlighting the main details (nails, ridges, grooves)