Rust never sleeps

Caribbean living is great. We’re two miles from the beach, it’s always shorts and t-shirt weather. A flock of parrots hangs out in our neighbours 50 ft palm tree.

And humid. Always humid. Which means that my little shop is prey to corrosion like nothin’ else. Salty breezes, heat, humidity, sweat. rusty-tools Wiping tools down after use alone doesn’t cut it. I have seen corrosion start in the time that I’ve set something down and picked it back up. It’s frightening.

I don’t need all my tools to be shiny and neat, but I do want them to last. Since moving here I’ve had to work a lot more to keep rust at bay. The tool chest is lined with anti-corrosion emitters and everything gets a good wipe down with a dry rag and/or brush before being put away. I try so hard not to blow dust out.

The friction from use keeps plane soles and cutting edges fairly clean. The parts I touch and leave sweaty meat prints on suffer. So I started experimenting with ways to get a barrier between me and the steel.

Boeshield T-9 spray is great if you’re putting tools up to store, not if you’re using them. It’s a bit greasy (as lubes are wont to be) and wipes off. Pretty much the same for conservators wax. ProtecTool Wax did a bit better, but doesn’t hold up after a few uses. I was wiping on a coat after nearly every session in the shop, and that stuff ain’t cheap.

To be fair, this may not be the best test case for these products. Outside of dipping everything in hot vinyl, nothing is going to stay on the tools forever. But cleaning and rust prevention are like sharpening to me, the less I have to do it the better.

Somewhere I read that shellac was a good barrier.  I took some garnet that was lying around and tested it on a few planes and chisels. It actually holds up to my manhandling over many uses, but comes off immediately with wood friction. Say, the side of a plane used for shooting. And while the aesthetics of my tools isn’t paramount, garnet shellac can make it look like your Stanley is shedding an old tan.

After a recent clean up I put several coats of paste wax on the tools. I’d made a batch with a healthy ratio of carnauba, and I’m hoping that the hardness of that will hold out a bit longer. So far, so good, with the added benefit of making the plane soles a bit slicker.

Further alchemical exploration may be necessary. Possibly blonde shellac followed by paste wax. Or mixing ProtecTool with carnauba.  Vamos a ver, no?

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