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What Are the Different Uses for Steel Wool?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 01 September 2016
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Steel wool is used across the world for a wide variety of purposes, from scouring pans and starting campfires to plugging rodent holes. Commonly used by woodworkers, steel wool can quickly cut through old, dried paint and varnish. It also is used for a variety of household cleaning chores, as it is softer than many surfaces, such as glass, so it can often be used without fear of causing damage.

Woodworkers know the power and versatility of steel wool when it comes time to strip off an old finish or dull down a new one. It comes in varying grades, ranging from very coarse to very fine. Coarse wool can quickly strip old paint off of wood, while a very fine grain steel wool can dull down a clear, shiny finish on a project without damaging the paint or stain beneath.

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In addition to wood surface uses, steel wool can also be used during wood construction projects. A loose screw hole can be firmed up by placing bits of steel wool in the hole to act as filler. When the screw is inserted back into the hole, it has a tighter fit because now the screw has something to grip onto, and the wool filler is compressed between the screw and the inside of the hole. Steel wool is often used by metal workers to clean parts, and auto body repair workers use steel wool to remove rust and smooth the surface of vehicle bodies. It can be used to clean wiper blades and windshields, along with chrome trim and bumpers.

Aluminum storm windows can be revived to their original shiny state with steel wool, and corroded pots and pans can gleam like new again, too. The wool is also used to clean golf clubs, grills and metal patio furniture. A wet wool pad can be used to remove scuff marks from vinyl floors, and cutting a pad can hone scissor blades. The cut pieces of pad can be placed in drains to trap hair when bathing a dog or trimming bangs. When the task is complete, the pad and attached hair are simply removed and discarded.

Mice and other rodents typically will not attempt to chew through steel wool, making it ideal for filling gaps around pipes and other small openings where mice attempt to enter a home. The wool can even be used to spark off a campfire when 9-volt battery terminals are touched to a pad. Removing soap scum and hard-water stains is also short work when using wool pads.

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