Cleaning Metal with Wire Brushes

Conventionally when thinking of a brush, a wooden or plastic handle comes to mind with bristles at the opposite end. Brushes are commonly used to clean surfaces of products or machinery to give the item a pristine finish. Wire brushes are no exception, like a plastic, hair or any other type of bristle brush the purpose of a wire brush is to clean and finish items that are too tough for another type of brush to take on. Additionally, round brushes are attach to grinders or electric drills. Although wire brushes are very abrasive this makes them ideal for cleaning and polishing certain surfaces such as metal. Other uses can also be applied such as brushed metal and to deburr edges to give the perfect clean looks that is desired.

Wire Brush Photo Courtesy of Gordon BrushThe construction of wire brushes varies. The same elements make up all brushes and are apparent in all variances those characteristics are a handle and bristles. The difference is how the handle and bristles are attached along with how it is operated. There are typically three types of handle materials; those are plastic, wood or metal. The bristles are mostly made of steel that is usually a high carbon variety, but sometimes bristles are made of stainless steel or brass. The bristles can be attached by staples, epoxies or sometimes one continuous wire. The non-traditional round brushes are used by attaching them to an angle grinder or electric drill. They are no exception to the construction of a brush. Bristles and a handle are essential to create a round brush as well. Furthermore, the way that the bristles are adjoined to the round brush is the same as a traditional brush.

To dig deeper into the purpose of wire brushes, they are excellent for cleaning metal by removing unwanted rust, corrosion, dirt and grime. The brass brushes are used on softer surfaces or in flammable environments where sparking tools are not permitted. Round brushes have more consistent and abrasive power. The reason being they are attached to a machine rather than used by hand. They are also useful for applying texture/appearance to metal such as a brushed metal finish, although possible this look is more difficult and time consuming to do by hand. In many cases this style of brush is preferred for deburring edges as well for the same reason a brush metal finish is easier and faster.

Whether it is finishing a new product or restoring an old product, wire brushes are an essential part in cleaning and finishing metal. Moreover, wire brushes are not limited to cleaning, finishing and deburring. Have you used wire brushes for any other purpose? Whether the brush is how we traditionally think of a brush or a round brush mechanically controlled there is no getting away from its usefulness and timeless nature that will never go out of style.