Woodworking in shed: Rust problems with constant heat/cold cycles?

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Forum topic by dpoisson posted 06-14-2010 11:22 PM 9939 views 1 time favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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190 posts in 3090 days

06-14-2010 11:22 PM

Hi everyone! First post here, so be kind ;-)

I started doing a bit of woodworking not long ago. I’ve officially claimed the basement as mine (it’s unfinished as the moment), however the Ms is now starting to see a “dust accumulation” problem…I’m sure most of you are aware of that problem lol.

With baby #2 on the way, we’ll need to take our office and bring it downstairs. Also, we’re getting our new couch delivered soon and we’ll be bringing the futon downstairs. Finally, we also plan on making our shed this summer (12×14’ hopefully, and we’ll eventually build a good size garage as well). The Ms has thrown in the air the idea of moving all my dust making stuff in the shed.

I wouldn’t mind trekking all the way to the end of our yard in snowshoes in the winter, however I’m worried about rust. The shed won’t be heated all the time, only when I’ll go in there to work. So would the constant heat/cold cycles wreak havok on all of my tools?

It’ll take something to warm up the shed as well: I was thinking a little coleman propane warmer or something similar. However, it might take a long while to warm up a shed with such an accessory. One idea is to get a litle stove, which I will eventually move into our garage once that gets built.

I’ll either be that or we close up the shop area with a wall…




13 replies so far

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3376 days

#1 posted 06-14-2010 11:30 PM

My garage is not heated, but insulated. I can plug in a small heater early in the morning and by 9:30 am it is comfortable to work in on all but the coldest days. I keep the table saw, jointer, planer, drill press, basically anything that could rust is treated with a wax or a wood safe preventative.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View hairy's profile


2780 posts in 3707 days

#2 posted 06-14-2010 11:37 PM

One thing I do on my garage tools is to coat them with a good thick coat of Johnson’s Paste Wax, and don’t buff it off until I’m going to use it. Cast iron only, tablesaw and jointer.

If I know it will be some time until next time, I’ll put more on, and not buff it off.

I learned this trick in the Bahama’s. The locals put on a lot of wax, and didn’t buff it off. It helped prevent rust from the salty air. It looked pretty stupid on a car, but it helps.

-- My reality check bounced...

View childress's profile


841 posts in 3717 days

#3 posted 06-15-2010 01:16 AM

It’s not just the tops you have to worry about, all the little nuts and bolts too. I had my shop in a temp location most of last year, which was a “shed”. I live in SoCal so I didn’t think I would have that much of a problem. Boy was I wrong, all of my tools have rust somewhere on them. I was pissed. Also, one of the BIGGEST problems wasn’t with the tools, but the wood. Very hard to work with when not in a controlled environment. I would mill something one day, the next day it would move. Totally sucked!!!!

I would try to avoid it as much as possible!

-- Childress Woodworks

View JerrySats's profile


237 posts in 3786 days

#4 posted 06-15-2010 01:54 AM

My shop/garage is a 40X50 unheated but insulated Morton building . The insulation doesn’t seem to make that much of a difference . I’m constantly fighting rust on my cast iron tops. What’s been working for me besides keeping a good coat of wax on the machines is keeping them covered . I use moving blankets they seem to work good and some old wool blankets for my smaller tops.

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 3098 days

#5 posted 06-15-2010 02:00 AM

Make sure if you use propane heat that you use a vented heater. Without the venting you have a “wet heat” and that contributes to the rust. I found this out in my first shop. I used a “Buddy” ventless heater and also a kerosine radiant heater. Worked good to heat the shop but was murder on my tables and wood supply.

-- Life is good.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3250 days

#6 posted 06-15-2010 04:10 AM

If it is an option, I would serious consider partitioning off a portion of your basement. If you seal it up good and use a good dust control system and air filtration system you will keep most (but not quite all) of the dust out of the rest of the house.

I’ve had pretty good luck with that approach. Of course, you have to put up with the noise of an air filtration system and dust collection system.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View dbhost's profile


5767 posts in 3407 days

#7 posted 06-15-2010 04:40 AM

If you can go 12×16. The extra 2 feet are priceless. Mind you, you can make a very nice shop in a shed as small as 10×12, lots of guys and gals do…

As far as heating / cooling goes, your most important issue is controlling heat gain and loss… Meaning insulation, and radiant barrier. Insulating is easy as pie, and radiant barrier isn’t all that tough either… Just get the right stuff, and follow the directions. I am using Attic Foil from, and aside from being laid up due to an unrelated injury, installation is going quickly and easily…

If you are going to heat with a propane heater, use one with a tipover, and low oxygen shut off. the Mr. Heater MH9BX Portable Buddy heater provides 9K BTU of heat on high, or you can opt for the MH18B Big Buddy which pumps out 18K BTUs on high. I have the older version of the Portable Buddy heater, the low oxygen shut off makes it MUCH safer than the Coleman versions that will just carbon monoxide poison you…

Best of luck to ya!

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3234 days

#8 posted 06-15-2010 05:00 AM

My shop is in a one car garage that is neither heated or insulated, but it is attached to my house so I am sure some heat bleeds through the wall. Like the others have stated already, I coat most anything that can rust with a paste wax. I coat them fairly regularly, but not on a daily basis by any means. I really don’t have any real issues with rust and I live in very hot and humid Alabama.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View levan's profile


472 posts in 3155 days

#9 posted 06-16-2010 10:12 PM

I just found this article might be worth a try. ridgid forum.
Living in Florida with high high humidity and keeping my tools in a garage which also is where the dryer vents I think I know a little about rust and rust prevention.

The best wax is Johnson Paste wax. I have tried the others and if you come into my shop you will find I only use Johnson.

For the surface of the table here is something I’m experimenting with and so far the results have been EXCELLENT. One day in HD an old timer heard me talking about tools and rust. After we finished the old timer called me over and told me to try a product made by Flood called Penetrol. It is a paint conditioner and is sold in the paint supplies.
If you read the can there is small paragraph talking about rust proofing.

As I said I have been experimenting and this is what I have found so far. The stuff works. You can brush, rub it on or dip the tools. The result is an ultra thin, ultra slick coating almost like lacquer. I have applied it to nearly all my hand tools and measuring devices (rulers, calibers, slidding square, faming square and etc.). I also have coated all my hand planes with it. As I said it is leaves an ultra thin, ultra slippery, ultra tough coating.

So far nothing I have treated has shown any sign of rust. My grandsons left a pair of channel locks out in the yard for almost a year and they still show no sign of rust. I painted the corner of the outside air conditioning unit to see how long it lasts and the corner looks like it did when I painted it about 4 or 5 years ago.

It will wear off but it takes a very long time and it almost has to be steel on steel to do it. On the surface of the table saw it will last for years. You can actually set a sweating glass of water on the table and it will not rust.

Penetrol is fairly cheap under $7 for a quart can.

There are many products out there but so far this appears to do the job the easiest, quickest and cheapest so far.

-- "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View Radu's profile


330 posts in 3219 days

#10 posted 06-16-2010 10:41 PM

Thanks for the info. I need to give it a try. Do you need to get rid of the old wax somehow, before applying Penetrol?

View levan's profile


472 posts in 3155 days

#11 posted 06-16-2010 11:29 PM

I have never used this product. I did just buy a can $12 to try and started reading the can after I got it home and it says for outdoor use only. So some more research is needed to see if safe when dry. It is an additive for exterior oil based paint. You can go to Hood Penetrol sight to see data sheets. I will post if I find out more.

-- "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View levan's profile


472 posts in 3155 days

#12 posted 06-20-2010 08:17 PM

I have started using Penetrol on my tools. I have been experimenting and really like the film it leaves on the steel . It does need to be used where you can ventilate while using. On my table saw top,I also applied paste wax on top of the penetrol after about 48 hrs. I believe this should seal the steel very well. With additional applications of paste wax as needed it should last quite awhile. I also put the penetrol in a spray bottle to coat all exposed steel such as nuts and bolts ect. on the interior of the saw which should solve any issues there. I did coat a board with the penetrol. I let it dry and coated with lacquer just to make sure there was not any finish issues. Acts just like an oil stain. As a whole, I believe I’m going to like this procedure very well.

-- "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right". Henry Ford

View m88k's profile


83 posts in 3127 days

#13 posted 06-20-2010 08:52 PM

For the record, it’s the moisture that causes rust; oxidation happens faster at higher temperatures, but rising and falling temperatures won’t cause rust by themselves. Try to seal the shed from the elements well and maybe store your tools with little desiccant jars. (Cat litter or the like) This is all from theory rather than experience, but the desiccant trick is standard for storing photography equipment and cars. The coatings mentioned above will also help significantly.

If you’re using the shed as a shop you’re going to want decent electrical system in in anyway; I’d consider electric floor heat, baseboards, or space heater. More expensive to operate than natural gas, but probably not compared to portable propane, and I’d feel more comfortable without a combustion source running in the woodshop.

Personally, I’d make space in the house if possible. It’ll be easier to take care of your tools, and they won’t end up sharing space with the mower, bicycles, and whatever else the Misses wants to store in the shed. I think it will be much easier to preserve your woodshop as your woodshop if it has a dedicated space. An outbuilding is ok, but not if it’s considered “the shed”.

-- ~Mark

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