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Save rusty workshop!

My studio is 100m from the sea, the temperature in summer is 30
degrees Celsius and the humidity 70%. My files, pliers, sawblades and
everything made from steel rusts overnight. Is there any way to
prevent this?


A Dehumidifier may help.

Dear Laura, An open pickle pot is guaranteed to rust all tools within
five feet! Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA

Laura: you can try placing all of you steel tools in a air tight
cabinet at night with an open can of freeze dried cooffee. The freexe
dried coffee will help pull the maisture out of the air and is
sometimes easier to find than the other drying agents available. It
also comes in a nice large quantity… Frank Goss

laura, when my equipment sometimes gets rusty (which used to be more
often then now, but a little preventive goes a long way…) to get the
rust off most of your tools an dto salvage what you can will be a
dirty job…grab some very light sandpaper and some three- in -one
oil and start to sand. when you are all done, you can coat your tools
with vasoline, and before you use, just wipe with a paper towel, but
reapply often ( you may want to keep your tools in a drawer with
papertowels on the bottom and the coated tools on top so you don’t
make a mess…) hope that was helpful -julia varady

Buy Silica gel - usually ordered from a pharmacist - and sew up small
bags (3" square) of muslin. Put a couple of tablespoons into the bags
and sew them closed. You can cover these bags again in felt which
stops them from snagging on tools.

Now we all put our tools away each evening as we finish, don’t we? Of
course! I put mine into metal and wood drawers. There are a couple of
these bags in each drawer.

Silca gel absorbs moisture and prevents the damp air from attacking
the tools. It’s important that the tools are stored in a confined
space so that the bags can absorb all the water content in the air. If
they’re left in an open drawer the bags wont be able to cope.

Once a week put the bags into a warm oven to dry out ( or put them in
the sun).

Works for me in damp Suffolk(UK).

Most of my tools get covered in a THIN coat of THIN oil (called “3 in
1” in the UK). I put the oil onto a rag and wipe the tool with the


There may be something you can use on the tools themselves, such as
WD-40 or Liquid Wrench. A light coating of a light oil, say a light
sewing machine oil or a light mineral oil (a vegetable oil could be
light, but will go rancid and smell) might help. However, maybe the
best thing to do would be to close up the windows and use artificial
climate control – either the air conditioner or the heat. If there
is a significant in-between season, you might need a dehumidifier.
Dehumidifiers take water out of the air and cause a very slight rise
in temperature, so they are useful when the air is too moist but
doesn’t really need significant heating or cooling. Am I being too


Laura, I live by the ocean also, but don’t have that kind of humidity.
Try WD-40. Spray it on and wrap them up. Louise

       My files, pliers, sawblades and everything made from steel
rusts overnight. Is there any way to prevent this? 

G’day. Make sure everything is rust-free to begin with; use
CocaCola or another product containing phosphoric acid - I don’t know
what is available in your part of the worls, but there are several
rust removers in hardware shops here in NZ. If possible buff and
maintain a good polish on your tools; polished steel does not rust so
easily. Spray your tools with WD40, CR556, or a mix of about 50%
motor oil and kerosine. I have a tin gold pan hanging in my garage
that I sprayed with CRC over 5 years ago, and it is still free from
rust. Have a piece of rag handy which is soaked in oil or Vaseline
and use that to wipe the tools when you have done with it. I’m sure
you’ll get a lot more suggestions! Cheers, – John Burgess;
@John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ

laura, I had the same problem until i installed a small fan that
blows across my workbench. the moving air keeps the tools free of
moisture, no moisture, no rust :o))

I seem to recall John Burgess posting a suggestion to use old pickle
and put a light copper plating on your tools to keep them from
rusting. You are in a tough environment what with the humidity and the
salt in the air.

HTH Dan Wellman
Where we are enjoying the first of our tomato’s

About the rust I had the same problem. I started using a dehumidifier
in my shop and it helped a lot. Also if you keep things oiled with a
very lite oil it will stop the rust. I don’t mean you have to soak
everything down in wd40 or motor oil just take a rag and use some
vacuum pump oil or 3 in 1 oil and wipe everything down.
just a very little bit will make a world of difference.

I seem to recall John Burgess posting a suggestion to use old pickle
and put a light copper plating on your tools to keep them from

G’day; And I’m pretty sure I didn’t suggest that at all! Whatever
you do keep acids away from tools! My suggestion was to clean up the
tools well, including a quiet soak in CocaCola or other phosphate rust
remover, then to put a polish on the tools as polished tools don’t
rust as easily as dull tools, then give 'em a squirt of WD40 or CRC556
or a wipe with a vaseline soaked rag. I added that I have an unplated
iron gold fossiking pan hanging in my damp garage which was given a
squirt of WD40 5 years ago and is still not rusty. Cheers,

	John Burgess;   @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ

Hello Laura,

I’m not into chemistry and this question should be directed to John,I
think.Anyway,I’ve heart from my family who lives near the cost line
that the humitity is not the biggest problem but the salt which is
causing your tools getting rusty.There is no thought about the fact
that a high humitity turns tools rusty but salt is really etching
into your tools,this is how they test cars in Europe by the way.

The answer could be by using pure zinc and lay them next to your
tools.The zinc will be affected urlier then your tools but zinc isn’t
that expensive.Ocean ships to exactly the same thing but with bigger
amounts of zinc.I can not explane the whole proces and that’s why
I’ve been thinking of John Burgess to fill up my lack of chemistry.

Regards Pedro

I highly recommend Kurobara camellia oil on ferrous tools. A
traditional protection for Samurai swords, Japanese craftsmen now use
it to protect their saws and chisels. It is superb. I work in my open
studio in the dewy dawn hours scant feet from a stony brook flowing
into a stream just beyond. I have more moss on the ground than grass.
In all this verdant dampness I’ve yet to see rust on tools treated
with this oil. Even with WD40, which displaces water, I still had
unpredictable episodes of rust which could bloom in hours. Although
more expensive than mineral oils, the odor is pleasant, it’s nontoxic
and hypoallergenic, and you use so little it’s easy to apply and less
messy to wipe off. A few ounces will last years. Order it from The
Japan Woodworker, Alameda, CA, (800) 537-7820. Three ounces with
separate applicator is about sixteen dollars, but an eight ounce pump
bottle is actually cheaper. I like the applicator, though. Frank
Goss’s freeze dried coffee tip is great for tools you don’t wish to
oil (for repoussage and ivory carving, in my case). Any dessicant in
an enclosed container is added insurance, and most can be recharged in
an oven still warm from baking.

David Barnett
Northampton, MA

Another choice for dehumidifying your shop, aside from buying an
actual dehumidifier, is potassium chlorate. It’s usually sold as a
de-icer, an alternative to using salt to de-ice sidewalks. Put a few
pie-tins half full of the stuff in various places throughout the
shop. This will take moisture out of the air, and you will see it
looking wet, and sometimes there will be water in the bottom of the
pan. Take it out and let it dry in the sun or bake it in the over
till dry. It’s not toxic (it’s often used as a table salt
substitute, but I think it tastes gross). You can use it over and

David L. Huffman

Dear Laura:

Store your tools in an enclosure (Cabinet, chest, drawer,etc.) with a
strip of 3M Anti-Tarnish Paper. It guards against the pollutants that
cause tarnish or discoloring on silver, gold, brass, steel, copper,
bronze and other metals. It works for two years or longer in a
well-sealed enclosure. It’s totally non-toxic and emits nothing.

Contact me and I’d be happy to send you and FREE SAMPLES.
Call 1-800-597-0227 or 651-748-5000 or e-mail

Warmest regards,

Ms. Pat Klund
Sr. Account Executive

   Another choice for dehumidifying your shop, aside from buying an
actual dehumidifier, is potassium chlorate.   It's usually sold as
a de-icer 

Potassium CHLORATE is NOT a dehumidifying material. It is an oxidant
that will release oxygen when heated and should be used with caution.
Potassium CHLORIDE is the desiccant material (as in sodium chloride -
salt). CALCIUM CHLORIDE is the most common desiccant and is used in
laboratories world wide to minimize moisture problems. It is marketed
commonly as “Drierite” or “Anhydrite” and others names, I’m sure.


Hi Gang,

  Another choice for dehumidifying your shop, aside from buying an
actual dehumidifier, is potassium chlorate.

Another chemical that was used in the days before refrigerant type
dehumidifiers is calcium chloride. A mesh bag (about 12in x 18 in x 6
in) of it was suspened over a drain or water collecting tray. Replace
the chemical when it’s used up.

If you’re going to store your tools for an extended period of time,
place them in a plastic 5 gallon bucket with a good lid. Add several
small bags of dessicant & close the lid securely. New buckets & lids
can be purchased at home supply & paint stores. Micro Mark has had
bagged dessicant listed in their catalog.


Dear Pedro, Scattering hunks of zinc about in one’s shop has
absolutely nothing to do with zinc plates on boat hulls. The nautical
problem is one of electrolysis. As a matter of fact, electrolysis is
present wherever you have a connection of dis-similar metals which
convey water based fluids. This is why you should have dielectric
couplings…connections which break the electrolytic current. Much
of the thread which has been going on relative to rust in workshops
has been concentrated on realtive humidity, Actually, the principal
cause of rust in a shop is not so much the moisture as the relative
pH of the.atmosphere. Your sodium bisulphate pickle is constantly
realeasing sulfuric acid into the air in your shop and it is this
acidic air which causes the rusting… Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos,