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Cardboard Packaging ? A Cautionary Tale

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Phil S10/04/2022 23:13:28
23 forum posts
7 photos

About fourteen months ago I purchased a new 6 inch M&W square to replace the thirty year old, worn out one that hangs over the bench. For a reason now forgotten I did not do the exchange, but put it back in the box and put the box on the shelf. In haste I failed to fully enclose the square inside the brown paper liner. The photo shows deep pitting, the result of letting the cardboard lid touch the metal and was taken after I had cleaned off the thick layer of rust which could not of been worse even if I had left the item at the seaside. The box was in a dry garage and I routinely keep items in their original packaging without a problem. I note that the brown liner paper was not the usual oiled type but has a plastic layer fused to the outside. If anyone out there has M&W items in similar packaging they might wish to review the arrangement.pict0149.jpg

Edited By Phil S on 10/04/2022 23:16:28

Bill Phinn11/04/2022 01:21:03
755 forum posts
113 photos

That's a shame, Phil, though, from the look of it, it probably won't affect its accuracy.

I keep almost all precision steel tools in sealed plastic bags now and never in direct contact anywhere with paper or cardboard. Even oiled or waxed paper is not a good long-term wrapping material. Leave some of this paper out on a bench in high humidity and you will see why: it goes disturbingly limp with all the moisture it has absorbed.

To discourage storage corrosion as much as possible, things like 1-2-3 blocks, square and hex collet blocks et al. with precision reference surfaces should really get oiled before they are put away in plastic if the intention is not to use them again within the next week or so.

I'm sure if you live in Arizona or somewhere similar you can safely skip these precautions.

Edited By Bill Phinn on 11/04/2022 01:23:01

jimmy b11/04/2022 05:20:04
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786 forum posts
42 photos

Having had issues with rust on seldom used tools, I now renew the VCI paper and oil tools annually.

Over the top maybe, but better than finding tinworm!

Jim

David George 111/04/2022 06:11:42
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1840 forum posts
503 photos

I went to a show at Newark and on one of the stands was a box of ex rolls royce inspection slip gauges. They were imperial and so not used by RR anymore. They were from Brough and had inspecyion sheet and were covered by anti corrosion paper but when I looked at them most had some rust and pitting damage. The vendor said he assumed the paper would protect them and he had only kept them in his van. Any way I bought them for £20.00 with rust and spent a few days de rusting them and although there are some pitting on some it dosn't affect the height and I am not using them for super critical jobs and they do me nicely.

David

not done it yet11/04/2022 07:47:46
6812 forum posts
20 photos
Posted by Phil S on 10/04/2022 23:13:28:

About fourteen months ago I purchased a new 6 inch M&W square to replace the thirty year old, worn out one that hangs over the bench. For a reason now forgotten I did not do the exchange, but put it back in the box and put the box on the shelf. In haste I failed to fully enclose the square inside the brown paper liner. The photo shows deep pitting, the result of letting the cardboard lid touch the metal and was taken after I had cleaned off the thick layer of rust which could not of been worse even if I had left the item at the seaside. The box was in a dry garage and I routinely keep items in their original packaging without a problem. I note that the brown liner paper was not the usual oiled type but has a plastic layer fused to the outside. If anyone out there has M&W items in similar packaging they might wish to review the arrangement.

Edited By Phil S on 10/04/2022 23:16:28

14 months means at least one whole winter. As we don’t know the location of this ‘dry garage’ and how it is kept dry, we cannot really blame the manufacturer’s packaging. Any similar packaging by any other manufacturer would fare no better. The original packing around the item was clearly perfectly adequate?

100% humidity and freezing conditions are bound to ‘dampen’ cardboard packaging, with resultant condensation onto steel in freezing temperatures.

I would say the title should be amended to ‘Storage conditions - a cautionary tale’ as, presently, it is possibly libelling the manufacturer.

SillyOldDuffer11/04/2022 09:35:15
Moderator
8695 forum posts
1967 photos
Posted by Phil S on 10/04/2022 23:13:28:

About fourteen months ago I purchased a new 6 inch M&W square to replace the thirty year old, worn out one that hangs over the bench. For a reason now forgotten I did not do the exchange, but put it back in the box and put the box on the shelf. In haste I failed to fully enclose the square inside the brown paper liner. The photo shows deep pitting, the result of letting the cardboard lid touch the metal ... I note that the brown liner paper was not the usual oiled type but has a plastic layer fused to the outside. If anyone out there has M&W items in similar packaging they might wish to review the arrangement.

...

Bad luck! I think M&W's packaging is mostly innocent though.

The filmed anti-corrosion paper keeps water out, whilst the waxy side is in contact with the metal. The cardboard box reduces the amount of moist air that can get to the metal. All good, but the wrapping has to be in place and the cardboard box sealed: sometimes new tools are taped shut or come in plastic.

The damage was done by condensation, which occurs even in dry garages. UK air is often wet, and we make it worse in workshops by breathing. Condensation occurs whenever warm moist air comes into contact with cold metal. It's common because workshop temperatures rise naturally in the day and fall overnight, whenever work is done, and especially if the workshop is heated to work in it.

I think what happened to the square is that air was able to flow in and out of the box, where moisture condensed on the exposed metal and soaked into the the cardboard. Ironically the metal, box and temperature changes acted as a pump, capturing water rather than keeping out. Any salts in the cardboard would increase rusting, so the square was stored in a damp box, probably slightly acid.

General cures for condensation:

  • Remove water. Fix leaks, dehumidify, ventilate, store in sealed boxes etc.
  • Reduce temperature swings. Ideally everything in the workshop should stay at the same temperature whatever happens. Cool is better than hot, because the speed of a chemical reaction like rusting rises with temperature.

Hard to do, and potentially expensive, so palliatives:

  • Maintenance waterproofing - oil, waxes, paint, galvanising, anti-corrosion paper, tools in cupboards, boxes and plastic bags etc etc. Note it's hard to maintain a completely effective air seal .
  • Water reduction - no naked flames, drying washing, open water tanks, or damp floors and walls, blowing moist air out with a fan, dehumidifier, silica-gel etc,
  • Reduce temperature swings with insulation, ideally the whole workshop, but blanketing helps too. Make sure blankets don't trap water! Attaching a small electric black heater to a machine tool will reduce condensation by keeping the metal closer to air temperature.

Condensation is difficult to deal with because the only guaranteed answer is an expensive environmental control system - 24x7 air-conditioning with temperature control. Lesser measures depend on local circumstances, which is why what I do successfully in my workshop may not work for you and vice versa.

Before reusing the M&W box, make sure it's dried out!

Dave

AJW11/04/2022 09:50:24
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377 forum posts
137 photos

I bought the same square many moons ago - cost 11/6 pence! It came in a light coloured box with corregated cardboard either side of the blade and the protective brown paper.

I have for the most part stored it lightly oiled and it's as good as the day I bought it.

There must be some sort of vapour being released from the cardboard - I'd contact the manufacturer with your photos.

Alan

DMB11/04/2022 09:55:00
1312 forum posts
1 photos

A "dry garage"??? My heated workshop has a humidity gauge on a high up shelf which shows a minimum of 50%, sometimes 55 or 60. I suggest, Phil, that you by a cheapo humidity gauge, which whilst not being accurate, will give you some idea of just how " dry". Put a sheet of ordinary newspaper on the bench for a few days and see what happens. (Don't use shiny paper that's had chinaclay rolled into the surface.)

John

John Doe 211/04/2022 11:03:47
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85 forum posts
14 photos

Warm air can hold more moisture than cool air, (which is why clouds form at a particular height - the air temperature reduces by 1-3°C for every 1,000' above the Earths surface). When warm air comes into contact with a cooler surface, the moisture in that air will condense out onto the cooler surface.

My garage/workshop only has the large front door, so every time I go in or out, I have to open that and loads of air can sweep in. I bought a good quality Meaco dehumidifier with an external drain from Argos, and set it to 50% - I store wood as well, so I didn't want the humidity to be much lower.

Initially it ran constantly but after a couple of weeks, it got the whole place down to just under 50% and there was quite a difference; Cardboard boxes felt definitely drier; some damp sand I had in a plastic bag became completely dry; any buckets with a bit of water left in the bottom completely dry out. The dehumidifier now sits on standby. It checks the humidity every 30 mins, and if it has increased above 47% it runs.

Depending on the day, when I open the door the humidity can go straight up to 60% or more, but I have the door open for as little time as possible, and the dehumidifier gets the humidity inside back down to below 50% pretty quickly.

As well as this, I am working through all my tools, (including a precision square - like the OP's but a different make): rubbing them with Rutlands premium machine and tool wax. Problem with protective paper is having to re-wrap things every time they are used, and there will still be gaps, so it might not provide a 100% barrier to moist air, whereas a surface coating of machine wax will.

 

PS, I have no connection with any of the products mentioned.

Edited By John Doe 2 on 11/04/2022 11:08:13

Rod Renshaw11/04/2022 11:35:22
376 forum posts
2 photos

Terrible experience for the OP.

I have great faith in VCI paper which I buy in biggish sheets and cut into rectangles to fit into the bottom of tool drawers and boxes. Best if the containers seal as well as possible to keep" the vapours" in.

I write the current date on any new rectangle of VCI paper I use and replace pieces regularly, though sometimes I have been surprised by how long some pieces have been in place (15 years in one overlooked box, but contents still okay.) The written date is a great memory jogger

I am aware that VCI paper is constantly emitting "the vapours" starting from when it is manufactured, so I avoid buying "old stock" bargains in case the paper is no longer active. Best to buy fresh.

VCI paper does not protect brass and I had the experience of opening an older box to find the steel bits okay but any brass very corroded, showing the box had been stored in damp conditions but the VCI paper had worked. ( My workshop is insulated and heated and I don't have problems with corrosion but like most workshops it's too small, so some things are stored in the garage or loft.)

Rod

Howard Lewis11/04/2022 16:49:28
6113 forum posts
14 photos

Cardboard tends to be hygroscopic, so will go limp and encourage rusting.

For very rarely used items, Lanolin is an excellent protection. The tube that I bought, ages ago, from Chronos, I think, needs to be warmed in hot water to make it more runny and spreadable. VERY sticky if not warmed.

For more often used, but not so regularly, a light coating of oil to keep moisture at bay does the job.

Any unheated space, in UK or more humid climates, will encourage rust.

Insulation is a great help in reducing temperature fluctuations, but is not infallible.

Howard

Hollowpoint12/04/2022 09:01:37
473 forum posts
58 photos

Get yourself a can of "green moisture guard". It's like tacky oil. A quick spray keeps your tools well protected even relatively long term. 😉

Tony Pratt 112/04/2022 09:16:06
1966 forum posts
12 photos

Cardboard is the worse thing ever for storing tools, I used to cover the boxes in solvent based varnish to seal.

Tony

Nicholas Wheeler 112/04/2022 10:26:50
930 forum posts
87 photos
Posted by Tony Pratt 1 on 12/04/2022 09:16:06:

Cardboard is the worse thing ever for storing tools, I used to cover the boxes in solvent based varnish to seal.

Tony

The cardboard box is designed to look pretty in the shop. It's hardly a lifetime storage container.

Neil Wyatt12/04/2022 22:10:36
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Moderator
19037 forum posts
734 photos
80 articles

My lathes etc. survived a year or more in a container with a light spray of WD40- and then wrapped in VCI paper. Yes I bought several metres of the stuff...

Hopper13/04/2022 05:57:25
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6404 forum posts
334 photos
Posted by Nicholas Wheeler 1 on 12/04/2022 10:26:50:
Posted by Tony Pratt 1 on 12/04/2022 09:16:06:

Cardboard is the worse thing ever for storing tools, I used to cover the boxes in solvent based varnish to seal.

Tony

The cardboard box is designed to look pretty in the shop. It's hardly a lifetime storage container.

Exactly. Cardboard and ordinary paper contain acids and nasties like formaldehyde that eat into their contents.

That's why museum curators keep valuable exhibits and photographs etc in special acid-free paper and plastic wrappers and containers.

The corrosion in the OP may have little or nothing to do with atmospheric moisture and more to do with acidic cardboard. Quite possibly though, the atmospheric moisture aided the acidic cardboard in doing a job on the metal it rested on.

Hopper13/04/2022 06:08:04
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6404 forum posts
334 photos
Posted by not done it yet on 11/04/2022 07:47:46:...

...

I would say the title should be amended to ‘Storage conditions - a cautionary tale’ as, presently, it is possibly libelling the manufacturer.

 

Not a chance. Truth is a defence against libel/defamation. The pic in the OP is proof of the truth of corrosion after being stored in the original cardboard box.

And it is very difficult for a company to sue for libel. They have to be able to prove very substantial financial losses. Seems unlikely from a post on the ME forum. If it were on the front page of The Sun, it might be a different matter, but even then they would have truth as a defence. And the OP was not recommending not buying M&W products, but merely to review how we store them. No financial loss at all in that. Ergo, no grounds for libel suits.

Edited By Hopper on 13/04/2022 06:10:52

Nicholas Farr13/04/2022 08:21:24
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3360 forum posts
1542 photos

Hi, Phil S has said that he didn't store it back wrapped in the protective brown paper liner, so the manufacturer or the seller is not at fault, if he received it in that condition it would be a different matter. Neither the manufacturer or the seller has any control how one stores or uses the tools we buy. I had the same thing happen with the little square shown below, it was covered with oil in a vacuum packed polythene bag in a carboard box when I bought it. I took it out of the bag, clean all the oil off to use and then just put it back into the cardboard box and stored it in one of my tool chest draws that I have in my small workplace indoors. Not really thinking about it much, but then one day when I went to use it, I found rust on the stock section where it had been it contact with both the box and the lid, but it was not very serious and cleaned it off with a piece of very fine Scotch-Brite but it has left a stain, but doesn't effect it's use. The stock is 55mm long and the blade is 78mm long.

square.jpg

Regards Nick.

Tim Stevens13/04/2022 10:19:53
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1598 forum posts

Ordinary paper and card is never used by bookbinders and conservators - they seek out, and pay extra for 'acid free paper and card'. The conclusion is that ordinary paper is treated with acid (to soften the wood pulp) and not properly neutralised. So, it attacks metals - especially in cold or damp conditions.

This is going to be a more common problem as plastic is phased out for 'use once' applications, such as packaging.

Cheers, Tim

PS: your title libels no-one. You are offering advice, not telling lies. A statement which is true is not a libel - and you have evidence of the facts.

Edited By Tim Stevens on 13/04/2022 10:22:30

Brian G13/04/2022 10:34:31
840 forum posts
37 photos

I'm quite fond of a quick wipe over with 3 in One or WD40 for anything that will be out of use for a while. Woodworker Paul Sellars uses a small tin stuffed with old flannels as an oil wiper (there is a video but I'm not sure of the current rules on linking to professional YouTube videos). It strikes me that a Duraglit tin would be ideal for this, it would certainly be better at holding 3-in-One than their plastic bottles with ridiculously brittle spouts.

Brian G

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