Rust never sleeps
Neil Young was right! I have never had the luxury of a climate-controlled shop. So I have always had to deal with bits of rust on my steel and cast-iron surfaces.
When I lived in Nevada, rust was never a real problem because, even in the winter, it is so dry that things just didn’t rust much unless they were left outdoors in the wet season.
After I moved to the central valley area of California, rust became much more of an issue. Here, even in summer, it’s very humid most of the time and in winter we get a lot of fog that seems to creep into the shop and dampen everything. The rust seems to appear right before your eyes.
I must have gone through a million cans of paste wax and packs of steel wool (which were more than sufficient weapons in the drier climate) before I started thinking about rust inhibitors. I started out using WD-40 and that worked great but did not last too long, especially on surfaces that were being subjected to the constant scuffing of wood being dragged across them. Plus, WD-40 is oily which is not good for unsealed raw wood.
I recently discovered a product called Boeshield T-9 which has been around for a while but was something I was not familiar with. This stuff actually dries leaving a surface similar in feel to one that has been waxed. But it seems to last for several months whereas with the wax or WD-40, it seemed like I was applying it every other day.
I still have to be vigilant because it’s easy to forget or postpone the cleaning and applying of protective coatings when you are in the middle of a big job with a deadline. But I’m slowly learning that it’s time well spent and totals out to much less than the time needed to scrub off rust.
I have also taken to hoarding desiccant packets. I toss a few into the drawers in my tool cabinets and that seems to help a lot.