TS/BS cast iron top cleanup - WD-40 and ROS, yes or no? why?

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Forum topic by Spikes posted 09-25-2018 02:03 PM 759 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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125 posts in 650 days

09-25-2018 02:03 PM


still learning the ropes and after 3 months with a new TS there’s enough surface rust and visible dirt I really want to do something about it.

But before I get to that, is there a recommended cleaning schedule for cast iron top? I’ve read about people applying wax every day to people who say that if you apply wax for 3 or 4 times and get it into the “grain” then every 6 months is ok. What do you suggest? I realize part of it depends on the climate, I’m in north cal right now in a relatively dry weather, altho winter will be wet up here as I’m out in the woods and at a bit of an elevation.

Now to the cleaning process… the most common approach I’ve seen recommended is probably a ROS with WD40, however:
1) I’ve heard many people frown about WD40 as a jack of all trade not very good at any, ie it’s actually not as good as a rust remover as dedicated products.
2) maybe more important is the second piece of the equation, the ROS, and a variation of sand paper (grit ~220) or scotch brite pads / steel wool

point 2 is what I’m really interested into, as I see the appeal of using a ROS, but I’m really worried, like many comments I’ve seen, that eventually I will create low spots and ruin the top. Some comments say to avoid anything but scotch brite pads or steel wool, however having tried with both it took a long time (30mins or so) to make any visible change. Is that to be expected? am I just being impatient? I was using WD40 in that occasion.

One combiation that may be interesting is ROS + scotchbrite, that seems more powerful than just going at it by hand, but still safer than using sand paper, no matter how fine.

look forward to your thoughts,


-- Don't worry about making progress, worry about practicing. If you practice you will make progress even if you don't want to.

7 replies so far

View Planeman40's profile


1472 posts in 3365 days

#1 posted 09-25-2018 02:36 PM

I have been extremely happy with WD-40 for rust prevention. I must admit my shop is in my basement and is air conditioned, at least the air conditioned air from the living area above settles in the basement (cold air falls). For years I have periodically sprayed my machines with WD-40. I then let them sit overnight before I wipe them down with paper towels just enough to get the majority off.The “sitting overnight” allows the WD-40 to seep into the pores of the steel surface and force the moisture out. I have not only woodworking machines but metal lathes and mills. All have no rust and look great. I live in Atlanta, Georgia which is known for its humid summers. Some say WD-40 comes off on the wood, but I have never had this problem. I’m sticking with what I know works for me.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Kirk650's profile


679 posts in 1353 days

#2 posted 09-25-2018 02:50 PM

I spot clean rust, as needed, with fine sandpaper and reapply paste wax. Just don’t use wax containing silicones.

My brother gave me a shaper, and it had a rusty top surface. I did use a ROS and fine sandpaper to get back to bare metal. The top had a lot of pitting, but I couldn’t fix that. I went to the paste wax, and applied it several times over a few days, and rust has been minimal since then.

I had an old buddy come visit daily for years, till he passed away. He’d visit and drink one beer (never drank any Miller beer) and as we visited, he’d put his beer on my jointer outfeed table. In the same spot, every time. I had to dry the spot and wax it when he left. If I did that, no rust problems. If I forgot, there’d be rust the next day. So, spot sand with 220 or 320 and rewax.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5924 posts in 3097 days

#3 posted 09-25-2018 03:02 PM

I have a friend who bought a very rusty jointer. He cleaned the rust off with his ROS (no liquids of any kind) and I was amazed at how well it came out. Inspection with a straightedge revealed no low spots, though even if it did it wouldn’t (probably) have been enough to impact performance. I do use WD40 and woven pads (Scotchbrite) to remove small spots on cast iron….and then my maintenance is simply paste wax, more like when I remember to do it.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View RobHannon's profile


326 posts in 1135 days

#4 posted 09-25-2018 03:21 PM

I have used the ROS with fine sandpaper or with scotchbright pads. They both fill up pretty fast, but it is effective.

View Steve's profile


1695 posts in 1187 days

#5 posted 09-25-2018 04:16 PM

I rehabbed a BS that had been left outside in the rain with a razor blade first, then I got some WD-40 rust blaster and some 600 grit sandpaper. Sanded by hand and the table came out great.

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 2090 days

#6 posted 09-25-2018 11:13 PM

Razor. Wire wheel.

I’d rather evaoorust it and use wire wheel after than sand.

It may not be bad. But it’s definitely not good.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View lumbering_on's profile


578 posts in 1094 days

#7 posted 09-25-2018 11:55 PM

I’ve had no issues with letting some vinegar sit on it for a few hours then a bit of hand sanding. YMMV.

I’ve used both Miniwax and GlideCote, and found that Miniwax lasts a lot longer, and seems smoother, but you do get a build up. So now I tend to use GlideCote in the winter when the humidity is low, and Miniwax in the summer. Seems to work well for the past couple of years.

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