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All that oil?


at the risk of sounding like a dummy, I have a question regarding
the oil that my Disc cutter and other metal tools (punches, forming
blocks. etc.) are covered in. Does this oil, have to stay on the
tool, is it for more than storage purposes. I mean does it help in
any way… or can I wipe it off and be done with it. Because I am
having a difficult time with all the oil, I am a Virgo, (anal
retentive) so instantly I want to clean it and put it in it’s place,
will this rust it or ruin it in any way???

BTW, I love this site and am fairly new to joining… so look for
lots more questions from me! =O) Thank you so much for the
inspiration to get back into creating. I am just beginning to work
with metals, so am rather intimidated to show my work, as it is so
different and less tangible, than what I have been seeing. All the
work on this site is simply AMAZING!

Designer, Victor Allen

  at the risk of sounding like a dummy, I have a question
regarding the oil that my Disc cutter and other metal tools
(punches, forming blocks. etc.) are covered in. Does this oil, have
to stay on the tool, is it for more than storage purposes. 

It’s there mostly to help prevent rust, but with actual cutting
tools, like your disc cutters, also can make the cutter work better,
with less stress on the cutting edges and easier punching. Forming
blocks, dapping blocks and punches, and the like, are oiled, if at
all, just for rust prevention purposes, and will best be left with a
light coating of oil. Clean it off to use it if you like and it
bothers you, but the tools will last longer and in better shape if,
when you’re done with them, you again coat them with a light oil.
Tools with highly polished surfaces that are used in a manner where
the high polish then affects the finish of the metal, such as highly
polished hammer faces, or rolling mills if you have a polished rolls,
in some cases should, and in all cases can, be stored with a lightly
oiled surface, but oil on a highly polished tool can slightly affect
the finish, so should be cleaned off before use, then restored for
storage. Tools that have oil in them while working precious metals,
will leave a residue on the metal being worked or cut. This may have
to be cleaned off in some cases, such as before attempting to solder
or anneal. (with the oil, fluxes don’t stick, solders don’t flow as
well, plus the oil burns, and with platinum, can contaminate the
metal as a result)

But given the work of refinishing a rusty tool, especially the types
of tools where the rust can really damage the tool (rolling mills,
your disk cutter, etc), don’t be too eager to remove the oil. it’s
your friend, not your enemy.


Some steel or ferris family tools are shipped with an rust inhibiting
coating, such as light oil or grease, in order to keep the tool from
rusting while in stock. Most times this coating is best cleaned off
in order to use But when cleaned it has a tendency to rust sometimes
while using. Like taking the good with the bad.


i hate to be the bearer of bad news, but tools work better when they
are not rusty and are well oiled.

it is good to keep all your tools well lubricated to avoid rust.
Many times i coat and wipe down my tools with vaseline. (if I have a
slight rust build up, a little bit of light sandpaper to remove it
and then vaseline to keep it in tip-top shape.) and i even drop a
couple of drops of 3-in-1 oil into my handpiece to keep it well
lubricated and rust free.

it doesn’t have to be a super oily mess, wipe it down occasionally
with a rag with some 3-in-1 or vaseline on it. (it just beats having
to replace rusty tools)

sorry! but think of it this way with you being a virgo, it is
keeping your tools looking and working good! it makes your tools not
oily and gross, but cleaner and taking the steps to make sure they
last longer!

keep them oiled and healthy!

julia potts
julia potts studios

All the steel tools that I’ve ever bought have come with a coating
of oil or grease(cosmolene, Dad used to call it). I keep a small,
cheap paint brush on top of a small jar. Inside the jar is some
mineral spirits (kerosene works too). When I get a new tool, I lay
out some news papers in a well ventilated area, put on my rubber
gloves and paint a good coat of the solvent onto the tool. It
dissolves the grease so I can easily wipe it off with paper towels.

I keep light machine oil around to coat the newly cleaned tool as
Peter advised. I usually wipe my steel hammers and stakes down with
the light oil after each use.

I also put the oily paper towels in the trash outside as they may
spontaneously combust if crammed into one of my shop garbage cans.

chuck in Asheville, NC

Hello and thanks for the Julia, Peter and RCP. I kind
of knew I was supposed to keep some oil on them, but was not sure. So
thank you. I also recieved two emails from off-site, and I too
appreciate the time and I consider myslef an "Artist"
and not a “bench jeweler” as everything I have learned has been self
taught, or my own technique, I have no “art” backround or training,
so the question’s I ask may seem a bit silly, but I only ask after I
have searched the archives and found no answer there. I have been
wathcing and reading from this site for years, and am glad to be a
link to the chain, even if it is “the weakest link” Goodbye! =O)
Thanks for indulging me.

I know beforehand that this is not an accepted practice, but found
that it worked for me so well and was originally suggested by a
jeweler on Orchid. I cleaned all of my tools really well, washed them
down with acetone or alcohol and treated them with a liquid cold
bluing chemical that I had on hand to use for touching up gun barrels
and actions. This is a form of rust and after using I have not any
rust problems or have had to use an oily coating or other chemical on
the tools to keep them from rust. I have used the blue or brown
version with good results. It will have to be renewed ever year or
so, depending on usage. This leaves a very nice blue or brown finish.