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Preventing Tool Rust

An accidental discovery by one reader leads to rust prevention on tool beds and tables.

When I turn on the heat in my uninsulated shop, you can almost watch the rust form on the machined surfaces of my tablesaw, jointer, etc. I tried commercial rust preventers, but they didn't last long or transferred to my project materials.

Purely by accident, I found that spar varnish, sprayed on my machine tabletops, effectively prevents rust. After a light sanding with 400-grit paper, the surfaces are shiny and smooth, with no transfer to my workpieces. It's been more than 6 months since the treatment, and I've not seen a speck of rust.

- John Gaeler, Keswick, Ont.


Comments (15)
kratky1 wrote:

Living in the Northeast is a hugh problem for tool rust in the summer, none of the solutions mentioned work well. My shop is my garage and I have the overhead door open as much as possible for both ventilation, light, and extra space. Having a large assortment of power, hand and turning tools anything steel or iron rusts. WD40 is by far the most readily available and easiest to use but is short lived and has to be constantly reapplied.

5/29/2015 07:04:33 AM Report Abuse
Steve Rawlinso1 wrote:

There seems to be agreement that the Boeshield is a great product for preventing rust. It probably is, but WD-40 is available everywhere and I have not seen the Boeshield in common hardware stores. One should remember that the "WD" in WD-40 stood originally for "Water Dispersant". The truly critical thing to do is get some sort of barrier between your cast iron table and the air -- I have chosen simple 1/4 inch particle board.

9/4/2014 12:52:29 PM Report Abuse
dslunsf wrote:

I live in Westport, Washington about 1200' from the Pacific Ocean and had a problem with rust on all of my shop equipment until I started putting a light coat of clear polyurethane on all metal surfaces. I sanded all down and cleaned with lacquer thinner, let dry and then sprayed with the clear polyurethane and have not had a rust problem now for 2 years. The humidity here is in the 90s most of the time.

8/29/2014 09:33:50 AM Report Abuse
Llama wrote:

@3-j You say "WD40 is not the way to go" but you don't say why. What is your objection to WD40 please?

8/29/2014 07:32:53 AM Report Abuse
3-j wrote:

WD40 is not the way to go. One effective method is to use a drop cloth made to cover tools. Another, from my experience, is Boeshield. I've had it on table saw, band saw and a drill press for a year and a half, and no rust!

8/28/2014 01:56:28 PM Report Abuse
Steve Rawlinso1 wrote:

I have found that the simplest way of preventing rust on cast iron surfaces is to do two things: 1) Spray and wipe the surface with WD-40 when done with the tool for the day. When you first use the tool for the day use acetone to remove the oil prior to use. 2) Make some particle board covers four your tool that will protect the surface. I live in Silicon Valley where we have relatively low humidity so this technique may not work in all climates.

8/28/2014 01:01:10 PM Report Abuse
trumpeteer993088248 wrote:

I have a dehumidefier and a cheap electronic temp/humidity gauge in the shop. It keeps me aware of when to turn the dehumidifier on, and how bad the humidity really is....sometimes I turn on the window AC unit just to dry out the air........summers are humid in Maryland!

8/28/2014 09:52:47 AM Report Abuse
peteshermet wrote:

Boeshield T9 works very well!

8/6/2013 10:08:03 PM Report Abuse
ddavey807304 wrote:

I'd like to know what the Wood Magazine staff thinks of the spar varnish technique.

8/4/2013 08:32:21 AM Report Abuse
lawalkowski wrote:

Quite by accident I discovered that old mineral spirits previously used to clean brushes does quite well. Have only used it for a few months but great so far. It dries quickly but I usually give it a quick wipe down the next day to really bring out the shine. I save the mineral spirits after cleaning brushes and let it set until all the paint residue settles out then use the clear liquid for the first rinse, so to speak, the next time I clean brushes.

8/2/2013 08:09:09 PM Report Abuse
hshadley4083 wrote:

Ever tried talcum powder? I live in the wet pacific northwest, and my table saw is in a carport. I dust it with talcum powder and rub it in with a rag. Then I dust it again and cover it with old towels and then a small tarp. It seriously reduces rust formation.

8/2/2013 02:33:41 PM Report Abuse
gewinger wrote:

When mold and mildew are present, high humidity is the issue in your shop. Get a decent de-humidifier and start drying out your shop. Use a good disinfectant on surfaces with mold already (Chlorox bleach 50:50 H2O)

8/2/2013 07:39:50 AM Report Abuse
jabonin1 wrote:

My shop is covered on all sides and the top, but is open to the outside air. Although in the day it is usually dry, at night it gets humid here in SoCal. I had problems with my cast iron tops on my jointer, band saw and table saw turning brown with rust - even though I cleaned and covered them with CRC C-36. I recently cut a sheet of 1/4" grey-covered melamine to make covers for each of my cast iron surfaces. I cover them at night. It is doing a fantastic job of keeping the rust away.

8/1/2013 12:12:00 PM Report Abuse
peglang1 wrote:

I just did some research. I better go turn that fan off. Looks like my problem is worse than rust. But thanks for the tip, John. Stay warm up there this winter.

9/5/2011 12:37:02 PM Report Abuse
peglang1 wrote:

Do you get rust on the unprotected surfaces? I was thinking of the sides or underneath of your table tops. My shop is insulated. I have a problem with mildew. Will the problem stop when I turn the heat on? I've been keeping the ceiling fan going the last few weeks. Tonight I turned on some brighter lights and saw the growth on the edges of the Melamine, some plywood and a piece of leather.

9/5/2011 12:38:18 AM Report Abuse

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