How To Keep Rust Off Woodworking Tools

By Robert Robillard on Workshop tips

How To Keep Rust Off Woodworking Tools

Protecting Your Tools From Rust:

The idea for the article,  How To Keep Rust Off Woodworking Tools, came to me after I found one of my kid’s had placed a wet snow sledding tube on-top of my table saw table. I had told her to leave the snow tube in my shop so I could blow it up with the air compressor. I figured she’d leave it on the floor,  she followed directions and left the WET tube on my metal table saw top.  Days later I saw rust spots on the saws metal top.

Keeping  Rust Off Woodworking Tools

It is much easier to protect your tools from rust than to deal with the consequences of rusty tools later.  Three main components for protecting your tools from rust are:

  • Control humidity
  • Avoid getting tools wet
  • Apply a protective coating

Control Humidity:

Having a basement work shop in the Northeast means having to deal with humidity.

Most basements are not heated or cooled and humidity can wreak havoc on shop tool surfaces. Finding light rust on hand tools, table saw, band saw and drill press tables is not uncommon.

To deal with my shop issues I purchased a dehumidifier and keep it at the middle setting all year round.

Hand Tools:

If your hand tools are susceptible to rust try adding at can a moisture absorbing gel pack to your tool box or tool drawer.    These silica gel desiccants absorb excess moisture and reduce the humidity level in enclosed areas.

You can also try a vapor corrosion inhibitor. (VCI)  Vapor corrosion inhibitors are water-based non-polluting molecular coatings that protect metals in enclosed spaces for a year or more at a time.

The VCI vapor files the enclosed space and electrochemically bonds to metal surfaces, sealing off moisture and protecting against corrosion and rust.  The beauty of using VCIs is that they protect any metal surface that air can reach, such as nooks and cranny areas that you may not be able to apply a protectant.



Avoid Getting Tools Wet:

It goes without saying that you should try not to get your tools wet.  Contractors who set up their tools outside struggle with this.

Apply a Protective Coating:

I also treat all metal surface tops with butchers wax, which helps to keep the metal tops rust free for a longer time. You can buy wax at your local hardware or automotive store . Look for and select automotive paste type wax. Wax regularly to keep the rust off. I do not recommend oily sprays since they tend to stain the wood and I also do not like the oily residue on my hands when working the tools. Here’s My Formula:

  1. Sand or  scrub the table top with a Scotch Brite pad, fine steel wool or use an orbital sander with fine grit sand paper [ 220-400 grit] to remove any surface rust.
  2. Use a small amount of mineral spirits to help cut thru wax.
  3. Sand until the rust is gone.
  4.  Wipe clean with rag and keep adding clean mineral spirits until all of the dirt, wax and rust have been removed.
  5. Then apply paste wax over entire metal surface.  Apply liberally, wait until it is nearly dry and then wipe the table down to remove any excess.
  6. Polish with rag

Note – there are other commercially available protective coatings that work well, such as Bull Frog products, or Boeshield T9 spray.  Spray coatings apply faster, but more expensive that paste wax.


Table saw top before:

Right side of top sanded clean of stains

Use a good quality paste wax

Apply the paste on the entire top surface

Buff off the wax and reapply as needed.

How To Protect Tools and Remove Rust Video:


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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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