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topic 11428 p.3

Restoring rusty cast iron wood stove, painting it

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A discussion started in 2001 but continuing through 2020

Steel wool is the best choice. But if the rust is too bad for that, start with wire brushes. Sandblasting is okay if you have the equipment. Stove polish may be preferred over high temperature paint. Read on...

December 11, 2012

Q. My husband is restoring a cast iron Loth Liberty wood cook stove. He is sand blasting off the rust. Then will paint with high temp paint. My question is, after the rust is removed, does he also paint the cook top (eyes, etc.) or just wipe it down with oil then start a fire and burn it for a couple of hours? Thanks.

Marilyn Hall
- Rural Retreat, Virginia, USA

December 11, 2012

A. Hi Marilyn. It's probably fine to paint them with the high temperature paint, but they might be prone to easy scratching (it's only paint). Some readers suggest that you use stove polish instead of paint for such a situation. Good luck.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

January 5, 2013

Q. I have read many responses of stove paint vs stove polish with much of the differences being based on personal preferences. I'm still unsure of what the qualities of each are such as look of the finish, durability, and approx life of finish (if applied properly). Can someone take time to explain the differences between these products. Also, Ted, what do you prefer and why? After so many years experience, I'm curious of your professional opinion. Thanks

Kevin King
- Elon, North Carolina

January 6, 2013

A. Hi Kevin. I run this site, but I am not an expert in all these subjects. I re-painted my own wood stove a couple of times, but that's the limit of my personal experience :-)

Sorry, I've never used the stove polish.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

March 27, 2014 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I found a severely rusty Garland stove and need to know how to remove the rust.

Sue Sherry
Auction restorer - Pennsylvania

July 1, 2014

A. The very easiest way to remove rust is with a coarse wire wheel on an angle grinder . Use Eye protection just in case and maybe an old long sleeve shirt . If you are getting into awkward places you might want to wear gloves ... I've hit my hand with the running wire brush and it doesn't feel good. If you don't own an angle grinder, borrow or rent one ... you'll be amazed at how well it works . A 4 inch wheel is about 7 dollars .

Michael Benjamin
- Bernville , Pennsylvania USA

December 5, 2014

Q. I have inherited a pot belly wood burning stove. An Evening Star No. 12 to be exact. From the front it is in decent shape, but the backside is horribly rusted, quite weak and brittle and corroding, even separating itself from the base leaving an inch gap from side to side. Is this even salvageable?

11428-17a  11428-17b

Any feedback is greatly appreciated as an earlier post mentioned, info on this is hard to come by, online anyways.

Adam Nelken
- Vancouver, B.C., Canada

December 2014

thumbs up sign Hi Adam. The 3-legged design and the porthole front are really attractive! It would be great to have a lighted glass aquarium behind the porthole, or a banana plant growing out of the porthole, or something like that. Super cool looking; a design star would absolutely love this unique object!

thumbsdownBut to try to get it airtight and safe enough to contain a hot fire inside your home? I absolutely wouldn't even try.


Ted Mooney, finishing.com Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

December 24, 2014

A. Very good info on stove polishes and pastes --
Hope it helps and good luck!

Goran Budija
- Zagreb,Croatia

April 6, 2015

Q. Hi,
My Dover wood stove is pulling all the heat out the chimney. It draws so fast that it make a noise -- the oven doesn't want to heat up. It is built-in.

desi smit
- south africa

April 15, 2015

Q. I have a cast iron wood stove with several cracks. Is it dangerous to keep using it? What should I do please?

jeannette speight
- hira nelson, new zealand

June 3, 2015

Q. Hi what will it cost to get my stove restored? It is rusted, not sure how bad. Would like to use the stove?

Michelle Naidoo
- Cape Town kuilsriver

Is my wood stove insulation asbestos?

October 18, 2016

Q. I have recently acquired a Great Majestic Wood Cookstove patented in 1900. There is a number on the clean out door below the oven "36468", which I assume could be the serial number of the stove. My inquiry is to determine if the insulation located on the back and oven side of the stove wall is asbestos. Is there a link or information regarding this concern? The insulation appears to have been removed at an earlier time but is still present under the cast iron grid. I have considered just removing the grid completely.
Thanks for your information!

Carol Ruiz
buyer - High Rolls Mountain Park, New Mexico USA

October 18, 2016

A. You would need to send a sample to a lab for examination by polarized light or electron microscopy.

Is the insulation flaking, or is dust from it falling out? To do harm, asbestos needs to be what they call "friable." Frequently, the best thing to do is let it be, or coat it with some kind of stabilizing coating.

dave wichern
Dave Wichern
Consultant - The Bronx, New York

January 21, 2017

Q. About a Dover cast iron stove.It is a cook stove,with an oven! Do I clean it in the conventional way, with a wire brush, then with steel wool and stove polish, as described above?

Sean Higgins
- South Africa

Original finishing of a findlay cast iron wood stove

October 26, 2017

Q. I currently own and use a Findlay - Universal 'B' wood burning cook stove. I have been told that it is in fantastic shape. Not knowing much about the stoves myself, I have no idea what is good or bad, condition-wise.

I am planning on doing some minor repairs to my stove in the spring/summer of 2018. I have acquired some spare parts and would like to clean up and refinish these parts as close to original as I can. Thus my main question... How was the original surface on the top of these cook stoves created?

I have met a guy that refinishes cast iron pans with 800 grit wet sand-paper with oil, then he bakes (cures) the pan with lard at 500 °F. He does the curing part 4 times. To me, it looks similar to the top of my stove, but me stove get way above 500 degrees.

I have heard of the high temp enamel, but something tells me that this will not last when I actually use the stove.

Any help would be appreciated.


Steve Vanston
Hobbyist / Handyman - Eganville, Ontario, Canada

October 2017

A. Hi Steve. I don't know what finish Findlay applied and, although you're welcome to ask, we don't get a lot of good historical information on the subject posted here :-)

There are 3 finishes that I know of to put on a wood stove ...
1. The ideal one is porcelain/ceramic, which is much closer to melted glass than to paint. It's applied with a gun that melts ceramic grit at temperatures of thousands of degrees as it shoots it onto the metal. But there is no possibility of doing this yourself; finding someone who can will be difficult and it's very expensive.
2. The second option is high temperature paint. I've used this on my own wood stoves, but it's not going to be glossy like a ceramic stove top, it's just a matte black, and it's certainly not a cooking surface if that's what you had in mind.
3. The third option is stove polish, which other posters have suggested, but I don't have any hands-on knowledge of it.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

January 8, 2018

Q. I just acquired a cook top cast iron stove. I am not sure of the brand name or model. It has all of the pieces, etc., but is heavily rusted. I am experimenting with a water/citric acid solution to break down the rust and scrub it off with a wire brush then a nylon brush. Rinsed with fresh water and heat dried.

During the reassembly of the pieces I am considering to use brass fasteners. Is it ill-advised to use brass fasteners? I am looking towards the accent appearance as well as the durability.

Fred Coats
- Jackson, Mississippi, USA

January 2018

A. Hi Fred. For galvanic corrosion to occur requires metals with different electromotive potential, metal-to-metal contact, and a wet conductive solution to conduct ions. The latter requirement probably won't be present to any great degree in a controlled environment. I don't think it's much of a concern.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

November 15, 2018

Q. Hello. I am no expert in older wood stove restorations. I was given a very old rusty "grizzly" wood stove and followed you guys advice in this thread -- all very good advice by the way. I hit the thing with a wire attachment (drill) and prepped with a conditioning chemical. Question is, this thing has a lot of spaces on the inside that are impossible to reach and clean. should I be worried about the rust inside? is there harmful fumes associated with burning all that rust? there will be an exit pipe for the fumes and this stove will be utilized outside in my yard in a well ventilated area. Please let me know. Thanks in advance for the well intentioned advice. Omar.

Omar Romero
- Riverbank, California United States

November 2018

A. Hi Omar. I've heard of no dangers from fumes from rust. Obviously if the stove were rusted all the way through to where it had no structural integrity, and logs and coals could fall out, there could be a fire hazard -- but your stove does not sound like a problem at all.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

December 11, 2018

Q. I have Magic City, Ideal wood stove that I have used for many years. Now the sheet metal portion of the pot belly needs to be replaced. What metal do I need to use?

Gary C Floding
- Mount Holly, North Carolina USA

December 2018

A. Hi Gary. As far as I know you use plain low carbon hot rolled steel of the same thickness as the original. You probably won't find it in a hardware store but will have to order it from a steel distributor/warehouse like Ryerson Steel or Steel Warehouse.


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Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

December 11, 2018

Q. Thank you, I contacted Ryerson steel, but, I don't know what gauge is best.

Gary C Floding [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Retired - Mount Holly, North Carolina USA

December 2018

A. Hi again, Gary. You need to measure the thickness from a remnant of the existing part, and look up what gauge that thickness is (I'm sure there are many charts on the internet, but
was the first one that popped up for me). Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

December 11, 2018

thumbs up sign  Hello Ted,
It measures about .045" (about 18 gauge), but, it's rusted and scaling. I think I'll go up to 16 gauge.
Thank you for your help, Gary.

Gary C Floding [returning]
Retired - Mount Holly, North Carolina USA

February 4, 2019

Q. I have a wood/coal burning Majestic cookstove. Years ago we removed the firebricks from inside to make moving it across country a little easier. Now I cannot remember where the firebricks were placed inside. Any suggestions on where firebricks should go? I feel like they may have been on top of oven under the large square griddle piece but I also have read that some use firebricks in bottom of oven.

Kathy Smith
- Flemington West Virginia, USA

February 2019

A. Hi Kathy. It may be neither here nor there, but my cast iron wood stove uses no firebrick at all, whereas my welded steel one used firebricks on the bottom, the sides, and the top.

As for the bottom, I remember that, because it made shoveling out the ashes a pain ... you might find the same recollection in your memory if you think about it. Or if you have some kind of grill the ashes pass through on the way to an ash collection box or drawer, obviously you can't have firebricks on the bottom blocking it.

As for the sides and top, there should be some sort of channels or angles that suggest where they go, sort of a back and front edge to support the bricks. Guessing is no substitute for researching it, but if no info is available ...


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

December 4, 2020

Q. Hello, I have a Sunny Heat Circulator wood burning stove that was purchased at Shapleigh Hardware in St. Louis. Dating back to who knows when.
I've had it for decades and I was thinking of restoring it.
After looking closely at it the other night, I notice (and yes, this wood burner is steel) there is a beautiful wood finish to it underneath its finish, I can find anything on it. I really don't know if it's a finish or just decades of baked on dust / dirt. I don't think it's paint. But under whatever it is looks to be a mahogany wood finish. Please see pics included.

11428-18b   11428-18a   11428-18d   11428-18c   11428-18e  

I have tried Windex, 409, wax and silicone remover and finally lacquer thinner to remove that top finish, whatever it is. Any ideas?


Chris Mcgrail
- Hillsboro, Missouri

December 2020

A. Hi Chris. You can see here what just sunlight, let alone the heat of a wood stove, can do to paint, turning the red to greyish-white, and the white to greyish-black depending on exactly what dyes and pigments and metals it contains:


Although I suppose it's vaguely possible that someone put an antiqued wood grain finish on an unheated idle wood stove as a decorating feature, it strikes me as highly unlikely. More likely I think is that this is just a mix of rust, discolored paints and/or stove polishes. I think you can steel wool it to a more or less consistent finish and then apply either black stove paint or stove polish. Good luck.

Are you sure that legs aren't missing from that stove? I'm not so sure it's safe sitting directly on a linoleum-topped wood floor if that's what I'm seeing.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

Readers: Please see also thread 19039, Where & how to find information and parts for cast iron wood stoves.

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