Storing tools and equipment

I have to pack up my studio and store it all in a steel storage
container, which will be outside, for about 3 months. Naturally, the
most humid months of the year, in a very humid climate (southern
Ontario). No vents, no chance of putting a de-humidifier in there.

I thought of buying desiccant in bulk – I throw every little packet
I come across into my file drawers and it seems to make a
difference. Does anyone know how much I’d need to use, say per
liquor-store size carton? Also, must itnot come in contact with
anything, or is that just a food issue, as in pillbottles? When
googling about using it with books, I read that you’re supposed to
sew little muslin bags and fill them (like that’s going to happen)
butI couldn’t find any info on size or how much to use.

What I’m most worried about, of course, is my rolling mill. Grease
it up andwrap it in plastic, the way I think it arrived?

Any ideas and suggestions would be very much appreciated. Also, if
anyone knows why on earth anybody ever moves anyplace, ever…


Hi Abigail,

There is a kind of Kitty Litter - under various brand names - which
refers to itself as “crystals” or something similar. They typically
are a mixture of mostly white and some blue bits of a sort of small
gravel. I believe the “crystals” are some kind of larger size grains
of silica type desiccant, same as what comes in tiny desiccant
packets. As Kitty Litter it is quite expensive so I mix it in with
the cheaper stuff. Long story short, it sucks moisture voraciously.
The blue bits are indicators - turning green when they can’t absorb
more moisture and the litter must be changed. It takes a LOT of
moisture to slake their thirst. That is not likely to be a problem
in your case. My suggestion - get a whole bucket of the stuff - any
pet store or supermarket will have it. Here in Canada a good sized
bucket, about 10 or 15 pounds, sells for not much, maybe $12 or even
$20 - can’t remember. It is relatively dust free and if you wrapped
it loosely in a cloth like a pillowcase or several smaller units
throughout your container, it should do the job. Or just spread a
bucket of the stuff over the floor of your container. It’ll sweep up
easily. A lot easier than collecting those tiny packets that come in
pill bottles.

Good luck
Marty, whose cats appreciate a dry litter box.

Hi Abigail

I work the phones here at Rio’s tech team and we get some really
interesting calls. I spoke to a guy who does settings for Mel
Fischer’s Atocha coinsin Key West. I asked him about rust down
there, and he said we have no problems with rust on tools at all. We
use Turtle Wax paste on everything. Even files get a coat, when you
pick up a file and start using it, the hardened wax just fakes off
as you go. Then give it a coat at the end of the day. I have been
doing this in my home studio now for about 3 years.

Hope this helps

Hi Abigail,

I’ve had some experience with long-term mothballing of my gear, so
take this for whatever you think it’s worth, but I just
de-mothballed a lathe that’d been sitting for 18 years, with no
damage at all.

(And I’ve got a rolling mill that’s been sitting right behind it all
these years that’s still just as bright as it was when I broke it

Step one: LPS-3. It’s a spray on rust inhibitor. Get the hand pump
bottles, not the spray cans. It’s so thick that it likes to jam the
nozzles. With the hand sprayers, you can just swap into a new
sprayer and keep going. With a spray can, you’re screwed. You can
get it It’s sort of like a thick WD-40, or thin vaseline. Leaves a
thickish waxy coating when it dries. Works absolutely great, and
WD-40 will get it off when you’re ready to bring things back on
stream. Whatever you do, do NOT use WD-40. It’ll actually cause rust
in long-term situations. Do not put LPS-3 on things that might
object to being covered in oil. If you have to, vaseline will work
too, short term. The thing you want to avoid is thin oil. It
collects dust, which then concentrates water. Causing rust… If
you want this to work, it’s going to be greasy and slimy. Become one
with it. (and wear disposable gloves.)

Put a pillowcase over the mill, to keep the dust and crud off. Do
not cover it in plastic. That’ll trap water, which is not what you
want. Let it breathe.

As far as the other boxes, silica gel packets will probably hold you
pretty well for a few months. You can get decent sized ones at gun
stores. You’re looking for dehumidifying tins. They use them in gun
safes. You can find a selection of gel packets here:

There’s also another long-term vapor barrier product called Bull
Frog. It’s a product that emits a vapor that fills whatever container
you leave it in with inhibitor. I keep a couple of the foam strips in
the toolboxes with all my precision measuring gear, and haven’t ever
had a problem.

Available here:

The nice thing about the metal silica gel tins is that you can bake
the water out of them when they get saturated, thus resetting them.
I’ve got some that I’ve been using for nearly 20 years.

The bullfrog strips only last a couple of years, but they’re cheap
and brainless, so both are valid approaches.

One other thing that you may have laying around is Renaissance Wax.
I use it on patina’ed silver for shows, but it was originally
designed as a rust/tarnish blocker for museums. It’ll work just fine
for a few months of tool protection too.

Hope that helped,

For the rolling mill I would take out the rollers, grease them
heavily and wrap in plastic until you are ready to reinstall them.
As for the rest, I would try to wrap things as tightly as possible
with plastic wrap to keep out air and moisture. Then hope for dry

Gerald A. Livings

Corrosion-x works very good on keeping rust at bay. Best thing I
have foundso far.

Panama Bay Jewelers

The only trick I know for metal is Johnsons paste wax. You can smear
it on your tools and wipe out off later. Put them in plastic bins.