Our tools are our pride and joy; they are our breadwinners they pay the bills put food on the table, buys new shoes for your kids or if you’re a hobbyist keeps the wife at bay when you make her a new bed side table or even build her a new kitchen. It really doesn’t matter whether you’re a hobbyist or professional tools rust and they need regular maintenance to tackle rust. To understand how to tackle rust one must learn what rust is.
Rust is iron corrosion caused by a reaction of iron or steel, oxygen and water or moisture in the air which is water combine; this is called iron oxide or rust. A reddish colour appears on the surface which is known as surface rust. If left untreated this surface rust will eventually corrode the metal even further and disintegrate. Many believe that surface rust will protect the metal from further deterioration but this belief couldn’t be further from the truth because once iron oxide(rust) forms on the surface and left untreated further decay of the metal occurs again due to the mixture of metal, oxygen and water. This deadly combination will turn your prized tool into a brittle worthless piece of junk. Bodily sweat will too cause rust and fast, so don’t drip on your tool.
There are many products on the market claiming to prevent rust and many of them work fine, I personally only use Renaissance paste wax or wax polish as they like to call it. This wax contains micro crystalline which form and harden on the surface protecting it from rust, but don’t think it will last forever because it won’t. I like to use it atleast once a fortnight on all my tools. I live in a tropical environment where humidity is a common problem and where you have humidity you have rust on tools, the salt in the air is like your bodily sweat; deadly. The summer months are the worst but winter with temperatures fairly low this isn’t much of an issue. Dust will also cause rust due to the water particles residing in the dust particles, again water, air and metal combination will oxidise which is why it’s always recommended but rarely practiced to wipe your tools before storing them away.
By the way this polish will not affect any of your finishes.
A quick word on Renaissance wax polish the claim that it works wonders on wood is not true, I have tried it on several species like Tasmanian Blackwood, Hoop Pine, New Guinean Rosewood and even Cambia, red cedar, Tasmanian Oak, European Beech, American Walnut, Qld Walnut, soft Maple just to name a few but the list goes on none of which turned out anything spectacular not even a hint of shine, in fact after applying it over shellac my usual favourite type of finish it dulled the sheen somewhat but it does work wonders on metal.
This is how I apply it; first clean the tool with some 0000 steel wool from all the surface rust, depending on how bad the rust is you may have to abrade the surface with some sandpaper. After the cleaning process is complete and your surface is free from surface rust apply a small amount of renaissance on some rag or paper towel. Spread it all over your tool, you don’t need to wait for the wax to dry you can immediately wipe it all off. This micro crystalline will harden and protect your surface from any new rust forming.
If you do this small maintenance regularly you will not have to worry about rust again. If you’re going away for some extended period of time of more than 3 months I would place each tool in an anti corrosion bag that is zip locked. Tool boxes is also a great way to store your tools and you won’t need to use these bags, try to get into the habit of wiping down your tools after each use and regularly apply this wax polish.