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Rusted Metal Table Top

My neighbor is giving me a 48" round 1/4 inch piece of metal. We have no idea what it was, but I plan on making a base out of bricks or 4x4's and using it as a table in the yard. It is heavily rusted. Is there a way to get the rust or loose rust off? What can I finish it with (paint is OK) to keep new rust at bay? Since I don't have a garage, the work will have to be done in the yard and thus I don't like the idea of washing any toxic materials off with a hose. I like the look of the rust, so it doesn't have to be brought back to original metal look, I like the rusty patina look. thanks!

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