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How to Prevent Your Tools from Rusting

By: Logan Wittmer
It doesn’t take long for rust to get a foothold on your tools. But protecting your tools from rust is a snap with these handy tips.

It always amazes me how quickly rust can appear on a tool. Sometimes it happens overnight. And even some types of tool guards can cause rust in a damp shop. The good news is that there are several ways to protect your hand and power tools that won’t require a lot of time or effort. Some are even a bit unconventional, but effective.

When I'm putting hand tools away at the end of the day, I give them a quick wipe with camellia oil. It takes no time at all to apply. You might think that any lightweight oil would do the trick. But unlike camellia oil, it may stain the wood.

Another quick and easy solution is to use a spray. And if you walk down the aisle at the hardware store, you’ll find dozens of spray products that claim to prevent rust. The idea is to form a protective barrier against moisture on the steel. When choosing a rust-preventative for my tools, I like to use products that are woodworker-friendly and compatible with my tools and projects. One such product I like to use is Boeshield T-9. It leaves a thin, waxy film. And all it takes is a quick spritz. You can wipe off the excess or just let it dry to form a heavier film.

It seems like the cast iron surfaces on a stationary power tool are the worst for attracting rust. It’s because it’s so porous. There are tiny openings in the metal, and these pores are great collection spots for any moisture in the air. So, like your hand tools, the key is to provide a protective barrier. And, to do this, you can use one of the many products I mentioned earlier. But there are a couple of low-cost, “unconventional” treatments you can try. Paste wax will do a good job, too. But there’s a quicker, no-mess way to apply some wax. Crumple up some waxed paper and rub it vigorously on your table saw table and the beds of your planer and jointer. Besides protecting them from rust, it also forms a slick surface.

Another unconventional technique is using baby powder or talcum powder. When you think about its original use, it makes a bit of sense — talc repels moisture. But you have to make sure you use powder made from talc and not corn starch. While talc resists moisture, corn starch will absorb it. Just sprinkle the powder liberally on the surface and rub it in with a felt chalkboard eraser. The talc works its way into the pores to repel moisture and leaves a smooth surface.

Published: April, 28 2016
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