Should you cover cast iron tops?

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Forum topic by Robin1 posted 07-13-2014 02:03 AM 1642 views 0 times favorited 40 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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113 posts in 583 days

07-13-2014 02:03 AM

Topic tags/keywords: cast iron rust prevention protection care maintenance table saw jointer

I recently upgraded to a cast iron table saw and jointer. My shop is in my garage and I live in upstate NY. I don’t have the funds to address temperature control at this time. I coat them periodically with Johnson’s paste wax but am concerned that I will need to do more as the weather changes. I know that HTC has “breathable machine covers” but, years ago when I had floor machines, I remember trying those and not being pleased with the results. Any advice for rust prevention?


40 replies so far

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113 posts in 583 days

#1 posted 07-16-2014 02:07 PM

I forgot to mention that I usially don’t work in temperatures below 45F, so the tools sit unused from at least December-March.

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703 posts in 1128 days

#2 posted 07-16-2014 02:16 PM

If a heavy coat of paste wax isn’t doing the trick, I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve heard, and you seem to have experienced, that covers tend to attract moisture…


-- "woodworker with an asterisk"

View whope's profile


125 posts in 1538 days

#3 posted 07-16-2014 02:38 PM

In the winter time, the weather is drier, so you may not have a problem.

I have found that if you leave things on your tops, they will rust underneath. Wood of course. Cardboard boxes as well.

I live in northern Virginia and I don’t to anything special (other than clean off the tops) and with no heat in the shop, I’m not out there in the winter either.

-- Measure it with a micrometer, mark it with chalk, cut it with an axe.

View timbertailor's profile


1572 posts in 517 days

#4 posted 07-16-2014 02:39 PM

I wax my surfaces, but I also cover them.

Flat surfaces just are begging to have items placed on them. NOT good!

So, I cover the table saw and band saw tables with styrofoam. I use it to chop down large panels when not protecting my work surfaces.

-- Brad, Texas,

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 2163 days

#5 posted 07-16-2014 02:51 PM

Fine Woodworking ran a test and found that CRC Industrial 3-36 performed best for cast iron tops. However, Amazon customers who purchased that product based on the FWW article don’t seem as thrilled about it after using it for a while.

A lot of Internet woodworkers swear by Boeshield T-9 with a top coat of paste wax, but neither one fared very well on its own in FWW’s test. I’m also not entirely convinced (see my story below), but I’m giving it another try. I’m in Iowa and it gets pretty humid here in the summer, so I hope this thread gets more responses from other people with non temp-controlled shops in humid regions.

I bought a table saw just a couple months ago and the first thing I did after removing the cosmoline was to put on two coats of T-9 (letting each coat cure overnight) and a coat of Renaissance wax. It might be the case that the second coat just dissolves the first and doesn’t add any extra protection. Anyway, last week I noticed a faint layer of surface rust forming already on the right side of the table, and I’ve barely used that side. I re-cleaned that side with mineral spirits and Rust-Free (Rust-Free, by the way, ruined the shiny factory finish of the top), then reapplied the T-9. I’ll put on a coat of paste wax, too, since T-9 leaves the surface tacky after curing.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

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340 posts in 2745 days

#6 posted 07-16-2014 03:05 PM

I use Boeshield or a top coat of wax. I also cover my machines with a loose fitting cotton drop cloth (the kind you can buy at the big box stores ftu use as painting tarps).

If you have a shop like mine with a steel roof, condensation will occur and things will rust. The key is to have a loose fitting drop cloth made of cotton or other fabric where it can breeze. If you put a plastic tarp for example, condensation will just occur on the other side of the tarp and end up making things worse.

I treated my drop cloths with waterproofing spray, yet still allowing it to breeze. Since then, I no longer have rust issues on my tablesaw top or jointer.

-- Yves

View NiteWalker's profile


2728 posts in 1669 days

#7 posted 07-16-2014 03:53 PM

I live in upstate ny too, and my shop is an uninsulated, unheated garage, and mine also sits idle from ~november to march or april.
I use toolclad's magnetic covers and they work great.
Nothing but paste wax on my cast iron, the tool cover when not in use. No rust.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2047 posts in 1462 days

#8 posted 07-16-2014 04:44 PM

I live in southern tier NY, and my garage is around 40-45 in the winter. I use Johnson’s paste wax on everything and have never had a rust problem on my cast iron surfaces in any season.

What’s up with abandoning the shop in the winter, guys? I work during the winter and the only problem I find is that I have to put projects aside when construction is complete, until the garage warms up enough for finishing in the springtime.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

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3338 posts in 578 days

#9 posted 07-16-2014 04:54 PM

Johnson’s paste wax. I had a few spots when I put a lot of wood through my jointer and got a rusty haze near the blade on indeed out feed side, but I forgot to throw another coat of wax as it had been awhile since I last put a coat.

I live in southern louisiana and rust prevention is a must. Especially in an unconditioned shop. Now if I could just keep the critters out.

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

View Ocelot's profile


1208 posts in 1730 days

#10 posted 07-16-2014 04:55 PM

I’m in the south and only do shop work in the winter. I can stand 45F better than 95F. ideal working temp is about 55F for me – with a sweatshirt.

Rust, I think is to some extent a matter of, for lack of a better term “taste”. I don’t tolerate any red rust on my machines, but black oxide I consider a good thing. I don’t care if the thing is pretty – as long as it’s flat, smooth and doesn’t stain the wood. On the occations when I have had rust on my table saw, I just used a random orbit sander to clean it off – then coated again with wax or with “Slipit”.

Mainly I get rust because my saw is next to the freezer (there are 2 freezers in the shop) and somebody sometimes takes things out of the freezer and rests them for a few minutes on the table saw while rearranging freezer contents.


View Mario's profile


124 posts in 2489 days

#11 posted 07-16-2014 05:01 PM

I live in an área with 85% humidity, no climate control, once a month a coat of Renaissance paste wax has kept all my cast iron surfaces rust free, give it a shot.

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Don W

16833 posts in 1660 days

#12 posted 07-16-2014 05:17 PM

I live in upstate NY. I’ve started using spay on shellac. Every once in a while I just wipe it off and give it a quick spray. I use a lot of green lumber, so wax didn’t last.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. -

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2356 posts in 1291 days

#13 posted 07-16-2014 05:52 PM

Wax and some type of breathable cover.. I use synthetic wax (Meguiars NXT) which seems to hold up better than regular paste wax, and heavy cotton packing blankets like you find on moving trucks. Where I live, it gets extremely humid (typically hovers around 90%.. good days it gets down to around 75% :) so it’s a constant battle.


PS: Someone mentioned Boeshield Rust Free.. if you check the MSDS, it is basically just phosphoric acid with some alcohol added. For about the same price they charge for the small 12oz spray bottle, you can pick up a gallon of the stuff at Home Depot. Add your own alcohol if you feel the need :) Also works great for preparing metal surfaces for paint.

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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922 posts in 613 days

#14 posted 07-16-2014 05:55 PM

If you plan to cover it, it couldn’t hurt to put a desiccant under the cover and change it out periodically.

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59 posts in 512 days

#15 posted 07-16-2014 06:00 PM

I wax occasionally but always – once you turn the blade down for the night – have a clean rug or carpet remnant ready. Just lay it on the saw table upside down. Works in my shop. When I take it off the saw the next day or the next week – its just as I left it = clean NO RUST.

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