Repelling Rust: Tips on Tool Care and Maintenance

From on October 30, 2008 in General Remodel

Rusty Tools

The biggest enemy to your tools lurks in the very air you breathe. It is alive and it thrives in warm, humid garages and basements. It is rust. While leaving your tools out in the rain is a surefire way to invite rust into your toolbox, it isn’t necessary. Rust can be quite subtle; slowly working its way into the metal fabric of your screwdrivers, pliers, hammers, and saws. Yet there are some effective measures you can take to stave off the rust invasion:

  1. Storage is key to the longevity of your tools. While it’s tempting to let them lie on the workbench for next time, keeping tools sealed up in a toolbox or drawers will help protect them from moisture. Wood boxes are great because the wood sucks up moisture that would otherwise eat away at your Vise-Grips and other valuables.
  2. TLC is A-OK when it comes to tool care. Take the extra time to wipe dirt, grime, and moisture off of your tools before putting them away. You can store tools all you want, but if you’re putting them away wet and dirty, you’re breeding rust rather than repelling it. If the beginning signs of rust appear, use a penetrating lubricant like WD-40 to wipe down the tool, but make sure you wipe away any excess lubricant before putting the tool away.
  3. Fight back against rust with some new innovations in tool protection. This Old House has some great advice on rust-fighting products. Stick-on cartridges for your toolbox that emit rust-eliminating vapors and specially designed wipes are a few.
  4. Don’t forget the power tools. Power tools, while being generally rust-resistant, still need some care and maintenance. You’ll be amazed how much sawdust, dirt, and moisture can get into the many parts of your circular saw and other tools. Regularly inspecting and cleaning the ins and outs of your power tools will greatly increase their life expectancy. Take care to inspect the switch housing and the brushes in power saws. And always read and follow all manufacturers’ maintenance instructions.