Looks Like I’m Rusty!

Article - July 12, 2011

I left the shop Friday for what promised to be a fun weekend. Two days of comic book reading, video game playing, and practicing some sweet dance moves while Nicole pretends not to be impressed. Unfortunately, I paid the price for my absence when I got back to the shop on Monday and saw this glorious rust spot on my tablesaw. Rust?!?! In Arizona?!?! You betcha!

Every year in July, humidity rises in the Phoenix area and we get some pretty spectacular thunderstorms (thanks to Monsoons). We had several short but powerful storms over the weekend and apparently, a small leak occurred in the shop roof. Truth be told, its not the first time it has leaked and it originates from the air conditioner installation. It been repaired once already, but evidently we need to have someone come out again.

The unfortunate bystander in all this was my poor tablesaw, experiencing its own version of the Chinese Water Torture. Fortunately, the leak was absolutely minimal and only affected the top left corner of the saw surface. Additionally, the rust was only surface-level and didn’t really do any serious damage.

The first step in fixing it is abrasion. I like to use naptha, mineral spirits, or WD-40 as a lubricant and either steel wool or 1000/2000 grit sandpaper as the abrasive. A couple minutes of light sanding and the rust comes right up. I then wipe away the rust/metal sludge and apply a light coat of Renaissance Wax. I still don’t have all of my stuff over to the new shop yet so I didn’t do my usual protective mix, which is T9 Boeshield followed by the wax. But in Arizona, we NORMALLY don’t have to worry too much about rust and wax is typically good enough.

Ironically, I had a few people email me recently with questions about rust and rust prevention. Its almost like they knew this was going to happen. In those emails, I assured them that no matter what they did, the surface would most likely continue to bear the stains throughout its life. Sure, you could aggressively resurface the metal with sandpaper, but you then run the risk of creating dips and valleys. So if something like this should happen to a brand new tool in your shop, don’t give it a second thought. Clean the surface, protect it, and enjoy your new battle scars. Remember, the only “perfect-looking” tool is the one that’s not being used.

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