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I've noticed that some of my tools, especially the more expensive ones (e.g., a wire cutter), come lubed. So, is it necessary to keep them lubricated? If so, what kind of oil should I use?

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It depends on how you treat and where you store your tools. For the average person, the worst condition their tools will experience is the boat ride from China and the drilled out hinge point is typically the only area of metal uncoated so it is oiled before shipping. Now if we get away from hand tools especially talking about pneumatic tools then yeah, almost all should be oiled regularly. – Jason Oct 1 '13 at 21:06
i'm guessing that this isn't lubrication as much as it is just to prevent rusting when in transit and on the shelf. the more expensive ones are expected to last longer, and i'm sure every little bit of protection helps. – alt Oct 2 '13 at 17:20
The threat of rust does not end when you leave the store. I have had tools that I rarely use form a nice patina just from sitting in my damp basement. – dfc Nov 22 '13 at 22:22

Short answer: Yes, if you want your tools to last.

A quick story: I have a set of Crestoloy Crescent wrenches that are nearing 100 years old. They were passed from my Great Grandpa to my Grandpa to me. I use them at least once a week. The tools have worked on farm equipment, on boats, on cars, and on houses. At times, they have been carelessly left in fields or damp environments. During all of this, the tools were regularly wiped down with a thin layer of oil. Today, those wrenches are devoid of rust and fully operational.

Oil on the metal portions of tools will do wonders for the longevity of the tool. The oil will repel water and prevent rust, along with lubricating any moving parts.

The type of oil doesn't matter so much (see the comment below for someone who knows more about oil than I do). Lots of people recommend WD-40. It's cheap and widely available. My Great Grandpa used clean motor oil on all of his tools. A dab of oil on a rag, then wipe them over the tools when you're done working. I use lubricating oil meant for an air compressor.

You don't need much oil to get the job done. None of my tools feel greasy; all of them look and feel dry, except on the moving parts.

A warning. Do NOT oil plastic or rubber parts of your tools. Oil can make plastic and rubber pieces (like handles) brittle and lead to cracking.

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Tri-flow is probably the best for bonding into the metal surfaces and preventing corrosion. WD-40, while a water displacer, has a lot of volatile components and tends to disappear. LPS-3 is a waxy based compound that leaves a cosmoline like layer to keep moisture off tools. The old standby, motor oil, always works, doesn't evaporate off like WD-40. – Fiasco Labs Dec 6 '13 at 15:53

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