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If you want to remove paint, rust, dirt, or welding slag without damaging the metal surface, you may need an air needle scaler.  This air-powered tool has a piston that drives a number of needles or small chisels back and forth very quickly.

The model 125 needle scaler from Ingersoll Rand drives nineteen 1/8″ needles at 4,600 blows per minute.  This air-hungry tool consumes 8 CFM on average, so you’re going to need a big compressor to run it.

Nine different chisel styles are available for different types of work.  The model 125 needle scaler starts at $150.

Needle Scaler [Ingersoll Rand]
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7 Responses to Get Down To Bare Metal With A Needle Scaler

  1. Rick says:

    Do you think that could get 25 year old rust from some threads on a brace self feed bit?

  2. fred says:

    In our metal/pipe fabrication shop, we use a Speedaire pistol-grip style scaler that I believe we bought at Grainger some time ago to replace one of this style. The in-line variety may be able to get into tight spots better – but our mechanic likes the pistol-grip better. I’m guessing that the Speedaire requires at least 5cfm of shop air. The tool is for rough surface prep – a bit less aggressive than a grinder. Nonetheless for finish polishing we use a Fein angle polisher:


    BTW – I recall a couple of jobs where we rented a big brother to this tool : a pneumatic concrete scabbler to surface prep some walkways. This was a lawnmower-style – sort of the size of our Clarke floor sander – a real beast that probably drew 100cfm or more. We also rented a hand-held pneumatic scabbler for the ”trim” work.

  3. Jim says:

    Dear Rick,

    I would use the electrolytic rust removal technique for the least destructive method of rust removal from your brace.


    I use an aquarium that can be bought for next to nothing at a thrift store, garage sale or flea market. For the power source, I bought the cheapest battery tender from Harbor Frieght. Any DC source should work. So, an unused spare DC power adapter from the many obsolete electronics we have laying around should work fine. Some slower than others, but they will all work.

    The set-up works flawlessly.


  4. ambush says:

    An old power supply from a computer works well for that kind of thing too. to turn most on you have to connect the green wire to ground(black) red is 5volt yellow is 12. Most of them have a sticker on the side that tells you what each wire is for though.

  5. JB says:

    I used to have to get dried concrete off of big camlever concrete buckets with that thing. Just crawl in and go to town (with ear, eye, and breathing protection of coarse). Yes it will take rust off, but expect to be at it a while. Unless the rust is fairly light. 25 years of rust is iffy plus the needles on this thing are near a 1/8″ thick are those large strong threads?

  6. Nathan says:

    This reminds me of the Mackinac Bridge episode of Dirty Jobs:


  7. Brett from Utah says:

    I have endless (un) fond memories of this tool from my years in the US Navy- these things do the job for sure, but removing non skid epoxy paint from large sections of a ships deck with it got very tedious very quickly…

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