Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Quick Tip On How To Prevent Rust

You can do a google search and find a number of different ways to get rid of the rust off your cast iron surfaces and plane irons, and there's even a bunch of different ways to help prevent rust from forming, or at least make it harder for it to start.

I have my shop in my basement and, as most people are aware, basements can get damp or the humidity can be a problem. I currently have a small problem with both, and I just didn't want to be scrubbing rust off my equipment every time I came down to work, nor did I want to keep treating the surfaces with chemicals and whatnot to help prevent the rust from forming, because I was concerned that these might somehow get onto whatever project I'm working on and make it harder, if not impossible, to apply finish to and look great.

My solution? Silica packets.

I live in Iowa and, if you've ever been here, you know that the humidity can be brutal. My basement has heat and a/c, so controlling the climate down there isn't too much of an issue, but sometimes there is a dampness to the air that comes with the humidity (like when it hits triple digits outside). The concrete walls form some condensation from the cooled air from the a/c, and so does the cool surfaces of cast iron. Moisture is a recipe for rust.

Also, as most people are aware, basements can have moisture problems from other sources, such as water leaking in from the outside. I currently have a small problem in my shop with that happening. There is a pin-hole leak somewhere on the stairs leading down to my shop and, try as I might for the last eight years, I haven't been able to find it, mainly because it seems I'm never down there when it leaks. It only does it when we have a ton of rain in a short period of time (or a rapidly-melting snow). The ground gets saturated, it travels down to the level of the leak, and it comes in on the stairs and leaks down to the basement (my shop is in another part of the basment, so the water isn't around my tools or anything). I have a dehumidifier that takes care of what leaks in within a day, so no worries (other than it's driving me crazy trying to find the leak).

Now, back to the silica packets. You buy just about anything these days, whether it's toys, beef jerky, or power tools, and there's almost always a silica packet in there to prevent moisture from forming and causing rust. The idea is that these little babies absorb whatever moisture may be present before it can get to whatever the product is, thus protecting it. I take these packets and store the extras in a ziploc bag, saving them for when I need them. When I'm not using my tools that can rust (bandsaw table, jointer table, etc), I flop one of the larger ones on the top and leave it to do what it does best, absorbing whatever moisture comes around. If I don't have a larger one, I throw two or three of the smaller ones on. I also keep a smaller one in among my handplanes.

I've been doing this for the past six months, and before that I had rust issues. Since I started doing it, nothing. Not a speck. And the beauty of it? Didn't cost me a cent, and it won't get on the wood I'm using.

Silica Packets Can Help Prevent Rust


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