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.



  • John Gresko says:

    For the past 35 years or so, I have used canning wax , a bit labor intensive but does last awhile.

  • Michael Smith says:

    You may find this helpful. If the rust is caught soon enough on a flat surface, such as table saw top, a razor blade in a handle[paint scraper] takes it right off quickly and easily. I run a light or a heater[one used to wrap around pipes to keep them from freezing] under the tool to keep it warm so the moisture won’t condense. I also us a candle to rub wax on some objects. Another is the DuPont product “Teflon multi use dry wax lubricant” ,which is useful for getting into inaccessible areas. Mickey

  • William Duffield says:

    You’ll like your T-9 even better when you replace the (lost) red tube with the flip up dispenser from a used up can of WD-40. It fits perfectly.

  • Gregg says:

    Have you ever tried Topcoat? It’s a spray-on product that I’ve used for years, and prefer for my cast iron surfaces. After I clean down the cast iron with a fine grit Sandblock, I clean with Naptha. I spray on a coat of Topcoat, let it dry and buff down. It only takes a second coat to do the trick. We lived in humid North Carolina, and my shop was also in the garage. We now live in Upstate NY, and the shop is in my basement. Even with a dehumidifier, I still periodically clean my cast iron surfaces the same way.

  • Rob Lindsay says:

    I have been using Quality Industrial Metal Cleaner for around 25 years. It is used on smooth, rough or porous metal surfaces. It sheds off most severe rust and corrosion protecting your machines tops with silicone Protection. All of our machine tops in the THS woodshop look brand spanking new.
    The address and phone number to Quality Products Co. is: 12399 Phillips Road:Pandora, Ohio 45877-9504. The Phone number is: 419-384-7209. Fax: 419-384-7216

  • My workshop is in my bssement and subject to moisture laden air all summer in particular. To control rust I use camphor blocks available at most drug stores special order desk. Then I cut an X across the top top of the block. When the blocks are placed anywhere in a tool box, on a tool shelf, or nearby large machinery I do not have a rust problem. When I see that a block has evaporated, I replace it. So there is always a reminder that ruest prevention needs to be updated. The blocks come in a carton of 24 or so and I usually have 6 or 7 in place around my workshop. The carton cost is high but one typically last a few years.

  • Jon Walpole says:

    A companion to T-9 is called “Rust Free” to remove the rust. Another of my favorites is called EVAPO-RUST but then it needs something over it to make the surface slick.

  • Kevin S says:

    I used Boeshield but wasn’t happy with the surface it left on my tablesaw and bandsaw. Even days after application it seemed just slightly tacky. Fine sawdust stuck and it didn’t have that smooth, slick surface I get with paste wax. For any other surface, though, and lubricating jobs I love the Boeshield. I use it on caster axles, roller stands, all over the shop and house.

  • I use talcum powder on my iron surfaces. I sprinkle it on and spread it with a chalkboard eraser (which retains powder for quick repeat applications. The advantages are that it absorbs moisture very well, fills microscopic pits, it’s cheap, quick to apply, leaves no residue, keeps the shop smelling fresh, and best of all–wood glides right across the surfaces cause it keeps them smooth as a baby’s bottom.

  • PutnamEco says:

    Vapor Corrosion Inhibitors AKA volatile corrosion inhibitors (VCIs) work very well for tools stored in an enclosed place, like a toolbox.I NEED to keep my less frequently used drills and router bits stored with a VCI if I ever want to use them again here in Florida where there is no escaping the ever present humidity. I like to use a VCI drawer liner in my roll cab mechanics toolbox as well

    Bullfrog and Zerust are popular products, Flambeau manufactures cases and toolboxes that incorporate a VCI as a component.

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