Old tool Preservation

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Forum topic by SteveKorz posted 07-19-2008 03:44 PM 5702 views 2 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View SteveKorz's profile


2140 posts in 4998 days

07-19-2008 03:44 PM

Topic tags/keywords: rust metal tip question

I love to tinker around and restore old tools. Since my shop is not temperature controlled year around, sometimes all my hard work tends to draw a little moisture. So, to prevent rust from invading my tools, I’ve used a variety different methods to try and preserve them.

I’ve used paste wax and some spray waxes, spray zinc-based coatings, and boeshield in the past. Each seems to have Pros and Cons as far as rust prevention, wear, reapplication, cost, etc. I’ve used light coats of oil before with little luck for any period. Wax seems to do very well over time (and its cheap!). Boeshield is very nice, but also very expensive for continuous reapplication. The zinc based spray seems to do well over time, but it just doesn’t look very nice.

I was wondering what your favorites are….

Thanks in advance,


-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

14 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5502 days

#1 posted 07-19-2008 04:05 PM

I’m terrible about that, Steve. A little WD-40 on a rag once in a blue moon, and that’s about it.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 5099 days

#2 posted 07-19-2008 04:08 PM

Immerse them in cosmoline ;)

Really though, build a nice closed tool cabinet for them and put a dessicant inside.

-- Scott - Chico California

View gbvinc's profile


629 posts in 5230 days

#3 posted 07-19-2008 04:12 PM

I bought a pint can of Slipit woodworkers sliding compound about four years ago and it works great on all my tools. (Surfaces, blades, etc) still have about 1/2 a can left.

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 4957 days

#4 posted 07-19-2008 10:18 PM

Base coat of Boseshield followed by a couple layers of wax.

Hand planes need constant reapplication of wax to work efficiently let alone for the rust prevention.

View Quixote's profile


206 posts in 4922 days

#5 posted 07-19-2008 11:34 PM

I’ve been happy with boiled linseed oil, it has a nice finish for working tools.

Several years ago, I did a batch preservation on all my hammers. I wiped everything down with thinner, cleaned up the heads and reset the heads to tight.
I put the whole batch into a garbage bag set in a five gallon bucket. I poured in the entire contents of a gallon of boiled linseed oil to submerge all the heads and most of the handles. I put the lid on the bucket and let it sit over the weekend. When I pulled the hammers out, wiped them off and set them aside to dry.

I recovered most of the gallon of boiled linseed oil back into it’s original container. (Yes.. I labeled the contaner.)

The benefit has been a nice warm finish on the handles, the heads have been tight for several years, and the light coating on metal surfaces has had a good oiled finish that has survived the weather and occasional beating.

I’ve used a similiar technique with gallon ziplock bags and teak oil on my plane knobs and totes or other small items with satisfactory results.


-- I don't make sawdust...I produce vast quantities of "Micro Mulch."

View SteveKorz's profile


2140 posts in 4998 days

#6 posted 07-20-2008 04:47 AM

Charlie- I used to do that, just because it was handy. I still do it when I have to remove rust- WD40 and some 00 steel wool.

Scott- I use a Desiccant in the trunk of my squad car. It keeps my shotgun and rifle from taking on water.. ammo, etc. This sounds foolish, but I’ve never really thought of sealing up a tool cabinet and putting one inside… lol.

gbvinc- I found Slipit here, I’ll have to give it a shot.

Q- I’ve never done that… that sounds like a great idea. I like the idea of letting them soak. For some reason, I’ve got about 10 hammers. I have no idea why, but I still hold on to all of them.

Thanks all, for your responses. Lots of good ideas to try

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 5007 days

#7 posted 07-20-2008 05:30 AM

Wd-40 works for me, and if it has been too long since I used it last, wd-40 with some 400 grit wet/dry sand paper.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View steveosshop's profile


230 posts in 4910 days

#8 posted 07-20-2008 06:33 AM

I use boiled linseed oil on my wooden planes and for metal parts its WD-40. Linseed oil and WD-40 are both cost effective and give good results.

-- Steve-o

View Quixote's profile


206 posts in 4922 days

#9 posted 07-20-2008 07:39 AM

Chico’s thought on cosmoline is the ultimate long term preservative…

Traditional cosmo application involved heating the cosmoline / grease till it becomes a liquid and submerging the parts completely. Another lifetime ago I was a gunsmith, or small arms repairman and spent a lot of time removing cosmoline from parts and complete units by washing them in a tank of dry cleaning solvent. After a while, the cosmoline was in solution with the solvent, so I began dipping other parts that I had repaired and cleaned back into the tank for a very light reapplication of cosmoline. (I batch dipped 200 new 9mm pistols for a deployment to Panama, not a single rust issue returned…)

In this lifetime, I do something similar only with Vaseline Petroleum Jelly and low odor mineral spirits. The Vaseline doesn’t leave the putrid smell like cosmo, and in a thinned out application, it flows into the metal pores and other areas, when the mineral spirits evaporate, you have a thin coat that protects, doesn’t smell bad, doesn’t stain your hands or your clothes, and doesn’t interfere with immediate use of your tools. ( I mainly use this mix on my impact sockets, metal files, chisels etc.) A quick dip in the table top solvent tank, and a drip dry before going back in tool box.

I started with two gallons of mineral spirits three years ago, but evaporation and use has me down to about a quart of solution today. With the price of mineral spirits now approaching the same price of a gallon of WD-40, I think I’ll switch out my solvent tank straight to WD.

-- I don't make sawdust...I produce vast quantities of "Micro Mulch."

View SteveKorz's profile


2140 posts in 4998 days

#10 posted 07-20-2008 03:50 PM

Q- I like the dipping idea. All my sockets are on metal organizer clips, and I’ve noticed lately some little rust spots on both of them. It’s such a pain to take everything out and off just to go thru the entire process again. What ratio mix do you start with in your description above?

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View Quixote's profile


206 posts in 4922 days

#11 posted 07-21-2008 03:53 AM

My mix was about a pint of Vaseline to 2 gallons of mineral spirits. This is about 8 ounces to a gallon, or rather a 16 to 1 ratio.

I cleaned up and reorganized my mechanical tools a couple of years ago and washed everything with this mix. I cleanup my sockets etc., with the remaining batch, no notice of any rust spots since.

Hope you have the same success.

post edit…

From their website…
Vaseline® Petroleum Jelly is a mixture of mineral oils, paraffin and microcrystalline waxes that, when blended together, create something remarkable – a smooth jelly that has a melting point just above body temperature. The result – it literally melts into skin, flowing into the spaces between cells and the gaps in our lipid barrier. Once there, it re-solidifies, locking itself in place.

Vaseline® Petroleum Jelly serves two functions: First it helps keep the outside world out – it protects skin from the effects of weather and exposure. Second, it acts like a sealant to help keep the inside world in – it forms an occlusive barrier to the natural water loss of our skin. So skin that is dry and chapped is protected from drying elements, enabling skin-softening moisture to build up naturally from inside the skin itself.

-- I don't make sawdust...I produce vast quantities of "Micro Mulch."

View Grumpy's profile


26812 posts in 5135 days

#12 posted 07-21-2008 06:06 AM

WD40 for me Steve but I remember my Dad used fish oil on his hand saws.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View SteveKorz's profile


2140 posts in 4998 days

#13 posted 07-22-2008 12:46 AM

Q- I think I may just give that a shot…

Grumpy- Fish oil? Hey, I’m learning something new every day…

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View Kevin's profile


291 posts in 5242 days

#14 posted 07-30-2008 11:21 PM

Fish oil, I bet that didn’t smell too good. :)

I like paste wax personally.

-- Kevin, Wichita, Kansas

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