Saturday, July 7, 2012

V3.27 - Rusty tools – what to do?

We got a good question from Donald in Lakeland, TN for this week (my, does our paper get around or what?). Donald says: “I don’t use my woodworking machines a lot, but when I do try to use them, they have a coating of rust on the tables. How do I stop that?” Hint: the more you use your tools, the less rust will be able to grow on them.

While I am tempted to just answer Donald’s question directly, I think you all might be better served by knowing what to do when you find the rust, then we can learn how to prevent it. First off is to clean the rust from the surface. How to do that really depends on how severe the rust is. For this column we’ll just deal with light surface rust. You can use fine or medium size steel wool, or a palm sander with 220 or 400 grit paper, or even wet or dry sandpaper and sand the rust off. My favorite method is to use a sanding block with 220 grit ‘wet or dry’ sandpaper and sprinkle a bit of nail polish remover (acetone) on the table and use that as the paper’s lubricant. Sand the whole table and then wipe the surface thoroughly with clean rags soaked in acetone. Once the surface is clean, dry the area very good…because now comes the ‘How do I stop that?’ part.

The ‘old school’ method is to coat a good rust-free surface with Johnsons paste floor wax and lightly buff it. Don’t remove all the wax, just try to make the coat spread evenly. The modern ‘hip’ method is to use a product called Boeshield T-9® (you can find it at Sears) and follow the directions on the package. CAUTION: Do NOT use automotive wax. Most of them have a high water content and will actually cause the rust you are trying to prevent.

On woodworking tool surfaces Boeshield T-9® recently topped all other surface treatments in Wood Magazine's article on “Rust Busters”.

The formulation is based on a unique combination of solvents and waxes and is designed to penetrate metal pores and dissolve minor corrosion, then leave a resilient waxy coating that lasts for many months.

During my years in Technical Service on woodworking machinery, we consistently recommended the paste floor wax and our customers had great success using it. It’s like a ‘tried and true’ method for preventing surface rust. Fortunately, I’ve heard so many good things about Boeshield T-9® that I am confident in it, also.

Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.

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