Stripping the shipping gunk off cast iron

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Forum topic by JesseTutt posted 08-28-2012 03:36 PM 1521 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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854 posts in 2132 days

08-28-2012 03:36 PM

Topic tags/keywords: new tool cast iron cleaning question

Every time a new tool arrives the cast iron surfaces are coated with some kind of protector? You know the stuff, yellowish and sticky. Normally I use mineral spirits or paint thinner to remove it. A neighbor was telling me that it is bad to use either of these to clean cast iron.

What do you use to clean the cast iron table surfaces of a new machine?

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

11 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4947 posts in 3982 days

#1 posted 08-28-2012 03:44 PM

I have no idea why MS/thinner would be bad for CI. I’ve done it for years. Kerosene also works.
I’m also thoroughly convinced that cosmolene (the coating) will outlast cockroaches. I’ve seen that stuff on materials from WWII that is still protecting metal.


View Tennessee's profile


2873 posts in 2536 days

#2 posted 08-28-2012 03:47 PM

I have started using PB Blaster in a spray can. It works great, doesn’t have a fogging sprayer on it, you can control the amount, and you can apply it to a rag if you want. It also leaves a nice silicone-free lube on the cast iron that lasts for a while. I stopped with the lacquer thinner, kerosene, all that stuff.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2509 days

#3 posted 08-28-2012 04:25 PM

I’ve cleaned Mil Surplus weapons coated and filled with Cosmolene. I had a couple of Lee Enfield .303 MKIV’s that had the barrels, breeches and receivers stuffed with it.
If my time had been worth money I would have spent more in time cleaning them than I did buying and shipping them!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View knotscott's profile


8055 posts in 3397 days

#4 posted 08-28-2012 07:24 PM

Mineral spirits and WD-40 have both worked well for me in the past. No problems with MS on the cast iron.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Gary's profile


9333 posts in 3454 days

#5 posted 08-28-2012 07:44 PM

Two of the machines I have came with instructions to use kerosene.

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2706 days

#6 posted 08-28-2012 10:05 PM

that chinese grease is nasty stuff and a hazmat suit might be in order but I would use a spray carb cleaner followed by WD40 on the non exposed parts, rubbing alcohol and paste wax or your preferred top dressing on the exposed parts.

View JesseTutt's profile


854 posts in 2132 days

#7 posted 08-28-2012 10:14 PM

Thanks All!

I went ahead and used Mineral Spirits on it. I did a very careful cleaning of the table top and where the trunnion bolts. The rest I got most of it off.

After everything is assembled I will clean the top again and apply paste wax.

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2712 days

#8 posted 08-29-2012 01:55 AM

I put my ms in a 1 quart sprayer, get a roll of paper towels and a toothbrush and have at it!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2308 days

#9 posted 08-29-2012 02:03 AM

If you want to use something a little less toxic, citrus solvent works very well on that stuff. I use citrus solvent to thin tung oil for wooden flutes that I make so I usually have at least a quart of it hanging around.

View Mainiac Matt 's profile (online now)

Mainiac Matt

8082 posts in 2350 days

#10 posted 08-29-2012 02:24 AM

Most often machines ship with a liberal coating of Cosmoline or some other similar heavy, waxy grease

MS or K1…

Either oes fine

-- It’s the knowledge in your head, skill in your hands and motivation to create in you heart that makes you a woodworker. - Mainiac Matt

View rance's profile


4258 posts in 3182 days

#11 posted 08-31-2012 04:41 PM

MS or paint thinner may affect the painted finish on some machines but it shouldn’t affect the cast iron itself. Maybe he was concerned about the paint coming off.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

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