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protecting from rust

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Richard chucklbutty22/09/2014 01:41:52
58 forum posts
3 photos
I've got an unheated workshop, what should I use to stop machine tools from rusting ?

Thor 🇳🇴22/09/2014 06:10:32
1483 forum posts
41 photos

Hi Richard,

I assume you keep unpainted surfaces oiled, covering each machine will help, especially if you can put a small heat source (like small light bulb) underneath. A dehumidifier will also help, it is important to prevent moisture in the air to condense on your machines. If you can prevent changes in temperature that causes the dew point to be crossed you should not get condensation. If you can insulate your workshop temperature changes will be slower and rusting less of a problem.

This topic has been part of other threads; Workshop heating


IanT22/09/2014 09:55:45
1946 forum posts
194 photos

My shed remains unheated throughout the year and is also quite damp - so rust is a real problem.

I cannot say what the best solution is - only what I do myself.

I own mainly older machines, which are heavy cast iron lumps and take some time to adjust to the ambient temperature. The first thing I do is paint any surfaces that do not need to be bare metal (e.g. reference surfaces). Next I routinely wipe things with a well oiled rag whenever I'm using a tool (or have used it) & it becomes a habit. My wife isn't impressed by the state of my hands most days - but they haven't rusted either (thus far).

Finally, anything not in immediate use is covered in plastic sheet (as closely as possible to prevent air movement, if possible stuck to the metal by the oil surface) and then covered in a sheet or blanket. My other tooling is generally kept in sealed plastic boxes and/or bags and all my more prized ferrous stock & scrap is oiled and wrapped in plastic sheet or cling film - as are some tools. My larger 'fixtures' are wooden boxed but oiled and wrapped in cling film too. My really delicate/expensive measuring and other 'fine' tooling is kept in the house and taken down to do specific tasks. I have a "work-box" that I use to move things between the two places - I try to plan a job and make sure I have the required things before I go down to the shed (well mostly!)

You have to be vigilant and anything missed or left in a corner will rust pretty quickly, particularly in the Spring, when the machines/tools are cold and it's warming up outside after a damp start. I have a large (30in x 24in ) cast iron surface table and this is kept well oiled and a thin plastic sheet is then smoothed down over the top surface and edges - before a wooden top cover is placed over it. This Spring I had water (condensation) actually dripping off the edges but the combination of painted lower body and well oiled surface seems to have prevented any serious damage. It takes some time to clean each time I need it but I have a smaller one indoors, and like so many things - it's very useful, very occasionally - so prepping & cleaning it is a small but necessary overhead.

I'm sure some here will have very different views but this is what I do. I have a small "indoor" workshop - as I cannot take the cold too well these days. I do tend to wrap things up a bit more 'pre-winter' if I'm not expecting to use them for a while. It takes a bit of effort but is the only thing that seems to work in my circumstances (e.g. an unheated and damp workshop).

One day (on downsizing) I will probably have a smaller workshop space, hopefully attached to any new house and it's central heating - but that's not possible just now.




Edited By IanT on 22/09/2014 10:03:47

Edited By IanT on 22/09/2014 10:04:33

Richard chucklbutty23/09/2014 19:46:09
58 forum posts
3 photos
I was thinking a magic spray ?
Bazyle23/09/2014 20:29:04
6181 forum posts
222 photos

The magic spray is clear Waxoyl well diluted with white spirit. This can be painted on all non operating surfaces, tools and stock material and forms a wax protective coat without the unpleasantness of oil. It is just slightly tacky like Postit note glue until fully dry. Adjust dilution as required to achive this and apply only with ventillation.
Natural Beeswax polish (NOT any silicone polish) is also good for a lot of things. Cotton gloves imbued with it can be used to keep your hands warm with cold manual tools.

Nick_G23/09/2014 21:19:28
1808 forum posts
744 photos
Posted by Richard chucklbutty on 23/09/2014 19:46:09:
I was thinking a magic spray ?

Motorbike guy's swear by this stuff. Not cheap but cheaper than new tools.!

I see no reason why it would not also work on tools.

Clickity linkity thingy :- **LINK**


JimmieS23/09/2014 21:38:52
280 forum posts
1 photos

ACF 50 provides excellent protection. Take care where you buy it from. Today my tin cost £18.99 as I needed it in a hurry - as usual! Can be bought for @£4.00 less if you look around.


Douglas Johnston24/09/2014 09:56:27
763 forum posts
34 photos

Jim, did you mean £14 or less for the ACF 50, I can't see it for much less than £15 anywhere or do you have a secret supplier?


JimmieS24/09/2014 17:27:06
280 forum posts
1 photos

Sorry for any confusion re price. As stated I paid £18-99 but I understand it can be got from some outlets for around £14-99 across the counter.


Roy M24/09/2014 20:23:57
104 forum posts
7 photos

Try looking at the 'Ambersil' web-site. Ambersil +40, (I think), is exactly what you are looking for. Cromwell Tools could supply. Roy M.

Boiler Bri24/09/2014 20:50:09
840 forum posts
199 photos

I started with a grimstone garage. Everything went rusty. I was only twenty three or so. I luckily built a 3" suffolk tractor to the late great john Haining design. I loved it, so did my dad and he was really mad when I sold it. The proceeds made me a twin garage. My dad was happy again. Still things go rusty. The cost of heating a double garage put me off heating. Wd40 at 10 quid or so a gallon makes me squirt everything! Still things go rust!, it's just our climate.


Brian - rusting slowly in Yorkshire and wales.

Edited By Boiler Bri on 24/09/2014 20:50:47

ronan walsh24/09/2014 20:59:30
546 forum posts
32 photos

I find wd40 useless for rust prevention. Cheap 90w gear oil slapped on everything with bare metal with an old paint brush is a bit better but i still find it emulsifies though. One thing i find a help is those tablet type dehumidifiers you can buy in the hardware/diy shops. They take a large blue and white tablet that deteriorates over a few weeks and i find they really work.

Edited By ronan walsh on 24/09/2014 21:02:36

Howard Lewis24/09/2014 22:41:31
5751 forum posts
13 photos

If it is possible, insulate the walls and ceiling, either with proper insulating board, or polystyrene sheet covered by hardboard, or better, plywood. It will retain whatever heat applied whilst the shop is occupied.

My shop was built without windows, and insulated with 50mm glass fibre behind 12mm ply, with 19mm wood outer cladding on the walls, 12mm ply each side of 50mm glassfibre under mineral felt (now a rubber roof membrane) for the ceiling.

Normally it is unheated, unless occupied. When frosty (in Eastern UK) a 60 watt tubular heater leaves metal benches not cold to the touch within 24 hours of switch on.

When working in there, a thermostatically controlled 2Kw fan heater is used. The shop is 3m x 2m and just over 2m floor to ceiling. The heater runs for less than 10 mins each hour.

Lighting is by one or two 65 watt ceiling mounted fluorescents, plus LED lights on the machines, so no great heat input there.

Ventilation, when needed, is by a weatherproofed 6" fan mounted high up with two or three fixed 50mm dia vents near to floor level. Obviously, it gets ventilated when the door is opened . Whenever possible, I try to work with the door open.

Rust is almost unknown.

My old uninsulated shop, with windows, often left the oil on the machines turning milky with condensation each morning, unless some heat was applied. Hence my love of insulation

60 watts will raise the temperature above the dew point in temperate climes. Colder climes, obviously will require greater heat input. Locating the heater (60watt bulb?) under the sheet or blanket covering the machine (tools need to be in drawers) will go along way to preventing rusty beds or tables.


DMB25/09/2014 09:48:48
1230 forum posts
1 photos
I cover the mill with large thick plastic bags in its shed home. A long-ish narrow 3-ply box is placed on swarf tray under plastic. Box has 4 brass batten holders fixed in line in bottom of box and wired together in series with 4 x 60W bulbs fitted. This is used for a very large part of the year at miniscule cost and successfully keeps mill completely rust-free.
DMB25/09/2014 10:20:00
1230 forum posts
1 photos
10 x 8ft wooden shed. Roof and walls ext. Covered in bubble wrap then roofing felt. Interior, walls covered in 3-ply and voids stuffed with mineral wool sold as roof insulation. Roof lined with 2" polystyrene panels. Often leave boxed sets of drills, odd taps dies and other small tools on bench if planned continued use next time. I drag a flimsy plastic sheet over bench and this keeps rust off. Lathe has thick plastic sheet which is sufficient. Have got a small cheap moisture extractor rarely used. Tubular heater for lathe not used. Oil filled radiator not used for a long time.
I keep non-ferrous in house so as to save space in w/shop and not add to burglars haul. Steel stocks in house also saves space and preserves against rust. Most small tools lathe and mill parts kept in house for rust as well as burglary reasons. Just means I need to plan ahead for job and tools needed. I still have some formidable anti-burglary precautions for workshop but not saying what. Security is better if not discussed in too much detail.
Mike25/09/2014 14:20:01
713 forum posts
6 photos

Two years ago I bought a small dehumidifier to keep condensation out of a small utility room at the back of the house which is not on the central heating circuit. I was disappointed - it didn't seem to work in winter, when it was most needed. Then I read, on this forum, that they don't work very well when cold. Last winter I kept the temperature up to around 12 degrees C with a small electric heater, and the dehumidifier worked fine. Just a point to watch if you go down the dehumidifier routs.

Cyril Bonnett26/09/2014 23:03:28
244 forum posts
1 photos

WD40 stops rust and is cheap if purchased in bulk. Jewsons use huge poly bags to wrap boarding in, one covers lathe, bench drill and milling attachment down to the floor. Good ventilation all the time helps.

Luke Graham18/10/2014 00:55:28
27 forum posts
Posted by Mike on 25/09/2014 14:20:01:

Two years ago I bought a small dehumidifier to keep condensation out of a small utility room at the back of the house which is not on the central heating circuit. I was disappointed - it didn't seem to work in winter, when it was most needed. Then I read, on this forum, that they don't work very well when cold. Last winter I kept the temperature up to around 12 degrees C with a small electric heater, and the dehumidifier worked fine. Just a point to watch if you go down the dehumidifier routs.

Refrigerant style dehumidifiers don't like the cold at all, dessicant style ones can handle it a bit better. I bought the latter type for my shed. I'm measuring the temp and humidity, and it is making a real difference. It's a "Ecoair DD122 Mini Super Compact Home Dehumidifier and Laundry Dryer", and I bought it from a company called Breathing Space. Happy with both the unit and the company, FWIW to anyone.


Boiler Bri18/10/2014 07:38:17
840 forum posts
199 photos



Aldi have de humidifiers on sale at the moment. Think it was about 120quid?


Ps. They also have a box of fibre washers with various sizes, just right for us boys, 3.30ish. 

Edited By Boiler Bri on 18/10/2014 07:39:35

Rik Shaw18/10/2014 10:14:59
1470 forum posts
398 photos

At the mo my workshop is a cheapo summerhouse (not for long though). It is unheated - except when I am in there - and uninsulated so rust SHOULD be a problem except that it is not - why? Because I use pumped cutting oil to both lathe and milling machine and the stuff gets everywhere.

I have learnt to keep myself out of the firing line using various ways (Perspex sheets and the like) and I buy boxes of nitrile gloves cheaply at car boot sales.

It sounds messy but its not so bad and at least its not as stinky as the mistic I used when I worked in the industry.


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