woodworking tool rust prevention

4 Tips for Woodworking Tool Rust Prevention

The art of woodworking requires no small amount of skill, strength, and creativity. But whether it’s your livelihood or weekend hobby, we’d wager your investment in quality tools is sizable. After all, if you’re going to devote the time, energy, and elbow grease to making handcrafted, customized woodworks, higher-end tools are worth it to help ensure every cut is precise – not to mention safe. But the upfront cost of tools isn’t the end of the story. Proper maintenance and smart storage is essential, especially if your aim is woodworking tool rust prevention.

Why Woodworkers Worry About Corrosion Risk

Woodworking tool rust and corrosion have been a problem for as long as humans have been using metal tools to tame wood – which is to say pretty much always. 

Rust is a chemical reaction specific to iron and its alloys when it comes in contact with oxygen and moisture. The risk to woodworkers is that rust can render a sharp blade dull, compromising both the functionality and effectiveness of the tool. That ups the chances of time-consuming errors and safety issues.

While many modern tools are made to last, corrosion-prone metals are used all the time in woodworking shops. This is often exacerbated by the fact that woodworking shops are often located in damp areas (garages, basements, unheated buildings, etc.). Humidity is fuel for tool rust. Temperature fluctuations can also cause problems, particularly if cold tools become exposed to warm, moist air that condenses on the metal’s surface. Sudden sweat and heat from your hands on a cold tool can cause this too. Unfortunately, relocating a woodworking shop isn’t a simple matter, especially considering the inherent dust, debris, and noise.

The good news is that with a few simple proactive maintenance practices and storage products, you can very effectively protect your woodworking tools from corrosion damage. 

Tips to Ward Off Woodworking Tool Rust

Protecting your tools from rust and corrosion doesn’t have to be complicated – or costly. Just follow these tips from our corrosion prevention experts:

  1. Keep your tool space tidy. This is on par with cleaning and drying your tools after every use. Woodworking kicks up a lot of dust and debris. Sawdust contains moisture. Even a thin coating on your tools can kickstart the chemical corrosion process.  Same with oils, processing chemicals, and cleaner residues. Plus, debris and dirt can cause metal surface pitting that can accelerate woodworking tool rust and corrosion. Make it a point to be fastidious about your cleanup routine, and your tools will last you longer.
  2. Keep humidity in check. Depending on the specifics of your workspace, you may not have a lot of control over this. However, it could be something as simple as investing in a fan or dehumidifier – especially if your shop doesn’t have great airflow, as moving air can help to reduce condensation build-up.
  3. Keep your tools clean. This is commonsense, but it bears repeating because it can make a huge difference. Wipe down tools after every use. Remove dust, dirt, and debris. If you’re using any sort of liquid to aid in this, make sure you also dry the surface with a soft, dry cloth to remove the moisture.
  4. Keep a vapor corrosion inhibitor (VCI) in your tool storage space. VCI products are a very simple and affordable way to keep rust and corrosion from taking hold on your woodworking tools. Products like vapor capsules, tool box liners, and table saw covers are fabricated with the VCI formula. It releases a nontoxic vapor into the air of your tool storage enclosure, ultimately settling into a molecule-thin protective layer that blocks the chemical reaction that would otherwise occur when the metal comes in contact with oxygen and moisture.

If you have questions about which corrosion prevention solution would work best for your workspace, our rust prevention experts can help.

Contact Zerust for information on VCI products to help with tool rust prevention by emailing us or calling (330) 405-1965.

Additional Resources:

Vapor Phase Corrosion Inhibitors, ASM International

More Blog Entries:

Affordable Tool Box Rust Prevention for Less Than $5, July 28, 2022, Zerust Rust Prevention Blog