Frustrations with Rust and my experiment protect my tools Part 1

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Blog entry by molan posted 10-10-2014 03:39 AM 2448 reads 2 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was out in my garage the other day and went to start a project. Reaching into my toolbox and retrieving a hand plane the first thing I noticed was that it was rusting. Agian! I had just cleaned the rust off of all my planes a little over a month ago and already they were showing signs of new rust.

There is nothing more frustrating than spending my free time cleaning rust off of my tools over and over again. I need to find a better way to protect my tools. I already keep them stored in a Traditional hand built dovetailed english style tool chest (admittedly it is only 75% finished) and they are still rusting on me. I then remember seeing the header of a Wood e-newsletter email in my email the other week about beating rust. Normally I don’t bother to read those articles because the pages they link to are 95% advertising and about 3 lines of useful content. But I was frustrated and thought what the heck.

The article talks (briefly) about using Silica based cat litter as a moister absorbent in your toolbox to prevent rust. What the heck I though I will give it a try. So I went to my local pet store and started looking a cat litter. When I asked the pet store employee what cat litter they had that was high in silica I got a really weird look. When I told them I wanted it to put in my toolbox to protect my tools from rust I think they wanted to run away from the crazy person who just walked into the store.

I ended up picking out the Cat litter in the above picture to give it a try. It appears to be almost completely Silca based.

I then filled a Filter Media bag (normally used for carbon in large fish tank filters, I have fish) with Cat litter Tied it up and put it into the bottom of my toolbox, with my hand planes

I then spent the afternoon with a tube or autosol and again Sigh…. cleaned all the rust off of my hand planes.

Here are some before and after pictures of my planes and the cleaning process

Shoulder Plane


Jack Plane


I apologize for the bad pictures. It was only after I had cleaned most of my planes that I thought this might make an interesting blog post. The only camera I had handy was my cell phone.

My plan is to post a 2nd blog post after 4-6 weeks showing the results of my little experiment. If interested feel free to check back!

17 comments so far

View Cliff 's profile


857 posts in 1143 days

#1 posted 10-10-2014 12:11 PM

Hi molan, where I live in Australia our climate would be like yours, we get some really hot and humid weather. The humidity plays merry hell on tools and machinery.
When I was growing up a lot of people would rub Mutton Fat on their Carpenter Saws and even Stove Tops, the smell of it was a bit rank but it really worked. We got the Mutton fat from the Butcher Shop, so if you have a friendly butcher who sells Lamb you may be able to get some from him, its worth a try.



-- Cliff Australia : Snoring is good. It blows away all the Sawdust.

View rhybeka's profile


2605 posts in 2540 days

#2 posted 10-10-2014 12:16 PM

Hmmmm… I was actually just thinking about this the other day – since I have trouble with rust on the hand tools I keep out in my shop/garage. I”ll be intrigued to see if it works out!

-- Beka/Becky - aspiring jill of all trades, still learning to not read the directions.

View Bogeyguy's profile


548 posts in 1487 days

#3 posted 10-10-2014 02:14 PM

I keep my planes, chisels, etc. in a old retired refrigerator in my shop, never a spot of rust. No room in it for my TS SS etc. LOL!

-- Art, Pittsburgh.

View dschlic1's profile


324 posts in 1388 days

#4 posted 10-10-2014 05:08 PM

You might try using Johnston’s paste wax. It seems to work in Florida!

View Earlextech's profile


1157 posts in 2109 days

#5 posted 10-10-2014 05:28 PM

+1 for Johnson’s Paste wax in south Florida for 30 yrs! Never had a rust problem I didn’t cause myself.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View ratchet's profile


1389 posts in 3206 days

#6 posted 10-10-2014 06:12 PM

De-rust your tools then use BreakFree CLP by Safariland as a rust preventer/preservative. You will be amazed at this stuff.

View Mean_Dean's profile


4932 posts in 2566 days

#7 posted 10-11-2014 12:26 AM

I’ve had really good luck with T-9 Boeshield. It comes in an aerosol can, and I got it at Rockler.

I’ve had a coat of it on my cast-iron tablesaw top for over a year now, with no signs of rust. I use my tablesaw frequently, and it hasn’t rubbed off yet. Also, I’m up here in the Pacific Northwest, and it rains here a bit, and my equipment is in my garage, with the garage door open most of the day.

The T-9 is quick and easy to use, without waiting for the paste wax to film over before buffing.

-- Dean

View MC's profile


137 posts in 1766 days

#8 posted 10-11-2014 10:07 AM

WD-40; I live in a humid climate and do not have a climate controlled shop. I keep an oily rag handy to wipe all my tools down with. All hand tools as well as the tops of my power tools get wiped down with WD-40 at the end of the day. I have not had any issues with rust.

View stefang's profile


15512 posts in 2753 days

#9 posted 10-11-2014 11:07 AM

WD40 is probably a great solution. A more traditional method is Camellia oil for hand planes and tools. Just keep a rag dampened with it and store it in an airtight can. Another way to store it is with the rag being compactly pushed into and open can with a say 2-1/2” dia. and leaving 1/2” or so above the top edge like a wick. That way you can just rub your planes, chisels, and whatever across the top of it when your done using it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View robscastle's profile


3306 posts in 1623 days

#10 posted 10-11-2014 11:21 AM

Have a look at this product

MX4 LANOX Lanolin Lubricant
Anti-Corrosion Lanolin Lubricant
MX4 Lanolin Lubricant
Designed for heavy industrial, mining, farming, marine, earth moving and transport type use and where extreme climatic and high humidity conditions prevail.
Available Sizes

300g Aerosol – 5 litre Container – 20 & 205 litre Drums . A 500 ml Spray Applicator is included with each 5 & 20 litre and 6 Spray Applicators with each 205 litre. A Tap is included with each 20 Litre container.

Lanolin is a natural wax found in animal wool especially the wool from sheep, commonly referred as ‘WOOL FAT’ or ‘WOOL GREASE’, it has wide spread uses, cosmetics, medical, soaps, etc. Down through the centuries the Egyptians, Romans, Vikings, sailors and soldiers alike all used lanolin as a very effective anti- corrosion and waterproofing agent for a variety of metals, materials, timbers, to protect sails, leather, cannons, etc. Although we make INOX, a quality anti-corrosion lubricant, there are areas where a lanolin based anti-corrosion lubricant like LANOX is sometimes better suited for the application at hand.
Why MX4?

LANOX is a heavy duty anti-moisture, anti-corrosion lubricant made with a high grade lubricating oil and lanolin base with specialized chemical compounds.
LANOX contains no silicon, kerosene, acids or dieselene.
LANOX is harmless to metal points & surfaces, plastics, painted & enamel finishes, fibreglass, formica, rubber or neoprene seals.
LANOX doesn’t become sticky, gooey or gum up.
LANOX is non-conductive, non-static & non-corrosive.
LANOX has neutral properties, low flammability (NON-AEROSOL)
Lanox doesn’t dry out or wash off with water

-- Regards Robert

View TheFridge's profile


5676 posts in 905 days

#11 posted 10-11-2014 11:23 AM

I live in south louisiana. I wax my tools after hard use and have never had anymore problems.

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

View NormG's profile


5424 posts in 2423 days

#12 posted 10-17-2014 01:13 AM

Wax is what I have always been told

-- Norman

View villajm9's profile


2 posts in 705 days

#13 posted 12-15-2014 07:09 PM

I have also heard that storing each plane in an individual heavy-duty ziplock back helps since it isolates the tool from the atmosphere. I was also tempted to get some of those desiccant packs out of things I buy and throw them into the ziplock as well, but your cat litter does the same thing.

-- Not a master craftsman, just an enthusiastic guy who loves building things. My mom is the real artist...

View molan's profile


120 posts in 1641 days

#14 posted 12-16-2014 02:25 AM

I appears to be working nicely. I haven’t had a chance to write a second blog entry as I intended, but I haven’t had any rust issues since trying this

View tirebob's profile


134 posts in 2273 days

#15 posted 12-20-2014 05:25 PM

Hey Matt,

Do you wipe down your planes with an oily rag or the like? I find that has been working great for me. Camilla oil if you can get it…

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