7 Ways to Remove and Prevent Rust on Woodworking Tools

Woodworking has been around for hundreds of years as an esteemed craft and skill. From the days of making weapons for kings, the early days of the revolution, all the way up to making stages for presenting the new iPhone, woodworking is a skill and craft that’s timeless, enduring, and rather difficult for those just starting out. But, what doesn’t have to be difficult is the act of keeping the woodworking tools from rusting.

Today we’ll take a look at how to keep tools like hand planers, iron table surfaces of large saws like a table saw or band saw, saw blades, and more from getting that tough and tricky rust.

Your tools may be lying around from time to time and collect some rust but that’s no reason for it to get bad and for you to start being proactive about it today!

What can you do to PREVENT tools from rusting?

Firstly, we’re going to talk about the most important thing you can do in taking care of your woodcutting tools. Of course, it’s always great to know how to remove rust, but it’s even better to know how to prevent rusting in the first place.

So here we’ll spend a little bit of time talking about just how you can stop that troublesome rust from building up at the start, this way there’s no need to even bother with getting off the rust because there simply won’t be any!

From protective coatings to learning how to use a rust inhibiting vapor, there are actually a lot of pretty straightforward techniques.

1 – Apply a protective coating

Applying a protective coating to your woodcutting tools can often be the first and best line of defense when keeping your tools from rusting. Doing so provides an extra added layer onto it’s primary. Hypothetically your tools do get a bit of rust of them, it won’t be damaging the tools themselves but rather they layer you applied instead.

One of the best yet affordable protective layers you can apply to your woodcutting tools is oil. The fibers grab hold nicely leaving the tools protected over a long period of time.

Another coating that works great and lasts long is flax seed. Flax seed is a great natural alternative that you can pick up in most stores.

2 – Reduce the moisture level

A great example for this next tip is actually the Statue of Liberty. Back when the Statue was in pieces being transported from France to New York the color of Lady Liberty was a metallic gray. But over time, the moisture from the surrounding water gave her the green hue you see today.

The point here is that moisture plays a key factor in rust. So reducing the moisture level around where you store your woodcutting tools is key. Instead of storing the tools in a place where moisture easily collects such as a humid basement, or non-insulated garage, pick a spot that’s cool and dry.

Don’t leave the tools sitting out, put them in big containers or wrap them in plastic. This will all go a long way in keeping the rust from gaining traction.

3 – Use a rust inhibiting vapor

Lastly, one of the more overlooked solutions in preventing rust buildup on woodcutting tools are rust inhibiting vapors. This is the most preferred method because it requires some ongoing care and check ups, not to mention the purchase of the vapors themselves. But if you’re willing to out the leg work in to prevent rusting then using a rust inhibiting vapor is a surefire way to keep the rust away.

What are RIVs? Rust inhibiting vapors are a controlled substance that releases particles that protect metal from corrosion. They usually are used most when all other methods are deemed unsuitable for the environment that the tools rest in.

They work essentially by using their particles to form a bond with the metal material. The best part about these RIVs is the fact that you can’t see them nor do they leave unwanted residue. RIV’s are very inexpensive and one can of them can protect a large number of tools. The most popular RIV’s are this one by WD-40 or this one by Sta-Bil. I’ve used both and been happy with the results from each of them.

If you’re looking for a quick way to prevent rusting on your woodcutting tools, then rust inhibiting vapors are definitely the way to go.

How do you remove existing rust from tools?

And now finally to the most important and serious issue that comes along with older woodcutting tools that may have been out just a little bit longer than they should have been and that’s how to remove existing rust the tools.

It happens, the tools sit around maybe for a season or two unused and developed that very ugly present day Titanic coat to them. To the naked eye, it looks seemingly impossible to get off that metallic hue. But, not all hope is lost because there are plenty of ways to get rid of existing rust from woodcutting tools.

Some of the ways are a bit old fashion but still work, while the ways take just a little bit more elbow grease than the others. Once you pick your method of choice, getting the rust off is simple. And then you can go right ahead and start applying the preventive measures in making sure that the rust doesn’t return.

1 – Use Vinegar

This one may sound live an old wives tale but it actually works pretty way. Vinegar is great for cooking, but is also great for cleaning. From jewelry, Keurig machines, and woodcutting tools, vinegar can be one of the best solutions in getting rust off your woodcutting tools. It’s powerful and all natural elements provide a means to strip the rust right off the trickiest of places.

You can apply the vinegar directly to the tools, or dampen a rag with it and scrub. Either way, you’ll want to let the vinegar sit on the rusted area and let it soak in there good. Once you give it a few scrubs, the rust should come off rather nicely.

The only downfall to this technique is probably the smell. Vinegar isn’t for the faint of heart but it gets the job done along with being all natural. It beats using a chemical substance that oftentimes affects and irritates the lungs.

So next time you’re in your grocery aisle shopping to cook that next meal, pick up an extra bottle of vinegar to get rid of the rust on your woodcutting tools.

2 – Rust Remover Chemical

If the smell of vinegar is too much for you, another option to consider is a rust remover agent like Evapo-Rust (Found here on Amazon). It’s not very expensive, and as you’ll see, most of the reviews are overwhelmingly positive. The nice thing about it also, is that it’s biodegradable so I felt better knowing I wasn’t working with some horrible chemical (however, you should still use gloves).

This has become my go-to option for removing rust from my tools. I picked up some old tools at an estate sale last year that had obviously not been used in decades. I’d never used Evapo-Rust before, so I was a bit skeptical of how well it would work on rust that was probably older than I was. 

I picked up a gallon of it and poured into a small container and submerged the old tools in the solution. Within about 30 minutes,the solution began to turn a light brown due to the rust from the tools.

I pulled them out and checked them and didn’t see much of a change after the first couple hours. My doubts of Evapo-Rust began to grow. The next day when I got home from work, I pulled out one of the old wrenches and was blown away! The rust wasn’t completely, gone but it looked much better! At this point, they had been soaking for about 24 hours.

I let them sit for another two days (72 or so hours total). When I pulled them out, they looked great! There was still a couple minor spots in some the corners of some of the wrenches. However, after putting a little scrub brush to them, the rust was gone in seconds. I’d recommend picking up some brushes like these, if you decide you want to try this method to remove rust from your tools.

Make sure once you have removed the rust from your tools using this method that you quickly apply a rust inhibitor like them one I mentioned above. If you let them sit over night, there will be surface rust on them the following day.

3 – Sanding Block

This one is more for the type willing to put in some work and actually works pretty well just like vinegar. Sanding blocks are great for wood, but is also great for cleaning woodcutters.

Sanding blocks (found here) can be one of the best solutions in getting rust off your woodcutting tools. It’s not only powerful like vinegar but also gets off the finer areas where rust builds up. You can apply the sanding blocks directly to the tools but be careful to stop right before hitting the actual coating, this way you don’t damage the tools.

Either way, you’ll want to get in deep with the sanding blocks on the rusted area and let it connect in there good. Once you give it a few scrubs, the rust should come off rather nicely.

The only downfall to this technique is probably the extra work. Sanding blocks aren’t for the faint of heart but it gets the job done not so much in an all natural way like vinegar but in a guaranteed Sense.

Just like with vinegar, it beats using a chemical substance that oftentimes affects and irritates the lungs. So next time you’re in your local hardware aisle shopping, pick up an extra pack of sanding blocks or paper to get rid of the rust on your woodcutting tools.

4 – Wash With Warm Water

This one may sound live an old wives tale just like the vinegar tip but it actually works pretty way. Warm water is great for cleaning the minor rust as the more severe rust should be left up to the above tips for a more thorough job. From bathrooms, cars, and woodcutting tools, warm water can be one of the best solutions in getting rust off your woodcutting tools.

It’s simple and all natural elements provide a means to strip the rust right off the surfaces of most equipment. You can apply the warm water directly to the tools, or dampen a rag with it and scrub. Either way, you’ll want to let the warm water sit on the rusted area and let it soak in there good. Once you give it a few scrubs, the rust should come off just like using vinegar.

The only downfall to this technique is that you aren’t going to be able to use warm water for the harder cases of rust. Warm water is the cheapest and most convenient of the options listed, gets the job done along with being all natural.

It’s okay to use soap to accompany the water, just make sure it’s safe to use on whatever woodcutting tools you’re using it on this way you don’t do any permanent damage to the surface.

And there you have it, this has been done on the best ways to not only prevent rust on your woodcutting tools, but also get rid of it. Once you do a few times it becomes second nature. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that though.