Friday, November 18, 2016

Winter’s Coming- Time to Protect those Tools from Rust

(This post was sponsored by 3-IN-ONE Oil; the content, however, is entirely mine)

For many of us, winter time brings lots of changes in the workshop in terms of heating and cooling cycles.  While many woodworkers live in places with mild climates, many others need to rely on some kind of heating system to make our time in the shop more pleasant.  And the range of heating systems, of course, is pretty broad- I know folks who heat with wood, and others utilize natural gas, propane, or other fuels to get the job done. 

While heating a shop isn’t quite the topic of this post, it definitely has consequences for our beloved tools, so it is worth taking a second to consider.  When choosing a method for heating one's shop, I’ve often found that there are three factors that come into play: price, convenience, and environmental impact.  The best setup would cost nothing, require no work, and have no environmental impact.  In the real world, though, we’re all trying to minimize these three things, and so we all end up making a choice that represents our best option.  A key strategy that usually emerges is the fact that shops aren’t heated evenly at all times.  While some woodworkers do focus on keeping a constant temperature in their shop, I know many- including myself- who don’t.  This solves a few problems (it lowers my heating bills and minimizes the amount of fossil fuels that I utilize) but it introduces a new problem.  Big changes in the temperature inside your shop can cause the humidity levels to change.  And while the changes may not create effects that are directly observable overnight, they can cause problems over time: even small amounts of water vapor can condense on tools, which can create rust.  So, since I have a conservation-oriented mindset when it comes to heating my shop, this means that it is in my best interest to spend a little time protecting my tools.  It doesn’t take long, and it’s worth it.

You can apply oil directly to a tool's surface or
to a paper towel- whatever works best.

My favorite all-purpose solution involves using a light oil product because it’s quick and easy.  It also is versatile; whether we’re talking about hand tools that are stored in tool chests, or on pegboards or shelves, it works great.  I bring this up because some companies produce desiccants that you can put inside a toolbox or other enclosed space, and they work well there to help eliminate moisture from the surrounding air, but they don’t work so well in open areas- their effects are pretty much negated, in my experience.  My preference is 3-IN-ONE Oil.  It is available all over the place, and it is pretty inexpensive.

This old handplane isn't fancy, but it came
from my dad, so it is rather dear to me
nonetheless.   It's worth a little TLC now
and then!

How do I apply it?  That depends, but it’s not rocket science.  If I’m oiling small tools- a handplane, for example- I just use a paper towel or rag that I’ve dampened with oil to rub down the tool and make sure it’s free of dust.  That’s it.  For hard-to-reach places- like the trunnions and other moving parts inside my tablesaw- I’ll used canned air to clean things out, then I apply a light coat of oil.  As I said earlier, it doesn’t take long, and it’s definitely one of those cases where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Yep, this is what happens when you don't take
care of business.  Now I've got to put in a bunch
of elbow grease just to get back to square one.

 3-IN-ONE Oil is available at many retailers.  I’ve purchased it at Lowe’s and Home Depot, and I’ve seen it at our local Ace Hardware, too.

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