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Protecting Your Tools From Rust:
The idea for the article, How To Keep Rust Off Woodworking Tools, came to me after I found one of my kid’s had placed a wet snow sledding tube on-top of my table saw table. I had told her to leave the snow tube in my shop so I could blow it up with the air compressor. I figured she’d leave it on the floor, she followed directions and left the WET tube on my metal table saw top. Days later I saw rust spots on the saws metal top.
Keeping Rust Off Woodworking Tools
It is much easier to protect your tools from rust than to deal with the consequences of rusty tools later. Three main components for protecting your tools from rust are:
Avoid getting tools wet
Apply a protective coating
Having a basement work shop in the Northeast means having to deal with humidity.
Most basements are not heated or cooled and humidity can wreak havoc on shop tool surfaces. Finding light rust on hand tools, table saw, band saw and drill press tables is not uncommon.
To deal with my shop issues I purchased a dehumidifier and keep it at the middle setting all year round.
If your hand tools are susceptible to rust try adding at can a moisture absorbing gel pack to your tool box or tool drawer. These silica gel desiccants absorb excess moisture and reduce the humidity level in enclosed areas.
You can also try a vapor corrosion inhibitor. (VCI) Vapor corrosion inhibitors are water-based non-polluting molecular coatings that protect metals in enclosed spaces for a year or more at a time.
The VCI vapor files the enclosed space and electrochemically bonds to metal surfaces, sealing off moisture and protecting against corrosion and rust. The beauty of using VCIs is that they protect any metal surface that air can reach, such as nooks and cranny areas that you may not be able to apply a protectant
Avoid Getting Tools Wet:
It goes without saying that you should try not to get your tools wet. Contractors who set up their tools outside struggle with this.
Apply a Protective Coating:
I also treat all metal surface tops with butchers wax, which helps to keep the metal tops rust free for a longer time. You can buy wax at your local hardware or automotive store . Look for and select automotive paste type wax. Wax regularly to keep the rust off. I do not recommend oily sprays since they tend to stain the wood and I also do not like the oily residue on my hands when working the tools.
Here’s My Formula for Rust Removal
Sand or scrub the table top with a Scotch Brite pad, fine steel wool or use an orbital sander with fine grit sand paper [ 220-400 grit] to remove any surface rust.
Use a small amount of mineral spirits to help cut thru wax.
Sand until the rust is gone.
Wipe clean with rag and keep adding clean mineral spirits until all of the dirt, wax and rust have been removed.
Then apply paste wax over entire metal surface. Apply liberally, wait until it is nearly dry and then wipe the table down to remove any excess.
Polish with rag
Note – there are other commercially available protective coatings that work well, such as Bull Frog products, or Boeshield T9 spray. Spray coatings apply faster, but more expensive that paste wax.