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Storing Jewelry Equipment?

I need about longterm (3-5 years) storage of jewelry
studio equipment. The equipment, etc. will be stored in a
self-storage unit that presumable will be as dry as New England
weather will permit. It will not be climate-controlled.

I would assume that any steel and or metal equipment/tools/machinery
will need to be well-greased and sealed in heavy-duty, sealable
plastic bags. Any studio equipment that is not made of metal would
still need to be bagged to prevent water vapour damage. These
protective measures would need to be in place for the duration of
storage. I writing to ask if those measures are sufficient. I would
welcome any recommmendations about the type of grease that should be
used to protect tools, etc. from rusting?

Store metal in a sealed, waterpoof box. Put a box of commercial
dessicant inside. Store in location that will minimize temperature

Plastic bags can act as a water membrane, sucking water out of the
air. Bags are fine, but put in a drum or other container, with
dessicant, and seal.

Steel usually a good barrier to water; plastic is not.

Hello Evan, Interesting question. One I wish that I had put more
thought into a few years back. I am reassembling my workshop after 5
years of storage and found several iron based tools coated with rust.
I originally used a light oil coat on these before storage. Storage
in Tucson is dry, so why the rust? I discovered a small bottle of
Nitric acid in one corner of the storage unit and I think this was
the culprit. Enough acid fumes leaked and spread throughout the
storage unit to rust exposed iron tools. Most can be refinished, but
what a mess. It was time for me to purchase I few good tools anyway
(so I keep telling myself). Make sure that any volatile chemicals,
liquid or powder, are either stored in sealed containers or better
yet, in another storage unit. Should have my workshop up and running
again in a few weeks. Regards, Will Estavillo

May I suggest a big sale of your equipment and tools and then
repurchase new/used when you return? I am not sure how much storage
space is out east, but at our rates in mid state California, you
will spend about 6 to 7 thousand on storage for five years. You
will have the exposure of theft and nature taking the toll on your
equipment while it is in storage. With the $6k you will spend on
storage plus the proceeds of the sale of your old equipment, you
should be able to outfit a very nice shop and not have the worry of
what the stored stuff will look like when you retrieve it. The only
catch is that you will need to put the proceeds of the sale away and
not touch it for the five years. Just something to think about


A light oil coat is not thick enough to protect steel in storage.
Special protective greases are used by manufacturers to ship tools,
but a heavy weight automotive engine oil will work. On flat surfaces,
put paper over the oil covered surface, it helps to hold the oil in
place. Smaller tools can be wrapped in oil soaked paper. As Estavillo
mentioned, do not store any corrosive chemicals near your tools. I
would not recommend, however, that you store corrosive or volatile
chemicals in a different area. Unless you have a fireproof cabinet to
store them in, do not keep your chemicals, it’s not worth the risk of
fire or corrosion.

Jack Reisland
Reisland Conservation, LLC

Hello Will, there are a number of reasons for the corrosion. Nitric
acid fumes will certainly cause corrosion. Another possibility is
that the light oil that you put on the tools has turned acidic
(oxidation over time) thereby causing corrosion. A third
possiblility is that if your tools have gotten dusty in the past
years, the dust can attract and hold moisture to the surface of the
metal, causing corrosion. Of course, it could always be all three…
Just thought I’d give you something to think about.

Eileen Procter (Objects conservator).