I have a bandsaw that set me back a bit and that I would like to take good care of.

Rust forms quite easily on the cast iron table. In attempting to remove rust from the table, I followed an old husbands' tale about use a potato slice to scrub the surface. I foolishly left the potato to sit and lo, 20 minutes later my table was even more rusted than before! I manage to polish most of that out, with the help of bicarb and a typical scotchbrite-type sponge.

I now have two options:

  • Buff the surface with another power tool, regularly (coastal environment here).
  • Find a way to seal the surface without making it too oily to work wood on.

What's the common/typical way to handle this problem? Is there a treatment that leaves a glassy finish and protects against rust?

  • 1
    I myself do not own any cast-iron tools (other than my wife's cast iron skillet), but the internet seems to like Johnson's Paste Wax, either by itself or over a coat of a product called Boeshield (which seems to be a formula of paraffin wax dissolved in a carrier solvent). Having no experience with it, I don't feel like it's appropriate to post it as an answer.
    – Chris M.
    Jul 13 '17 at 20:42
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    Once my cast iron tops are clean, I apply Boeshield T9 and wipe it off. Then I put on a layer of wax. I live in high humidity Houston, and this works well, but doesn't last forever.
    – Web
    Jul 13 '17 at 20:53
  • Forget it. You cannot keep tools you value in that kind of humidity. The tools must go somewhere else, or the humidity must. It may be time to tighten up the shop and get a dehumidifier. Jul 13 '17 at 22:57
  • @Harper "That kind of humidity" need not even be that high. This is not the tropics. Silvered cast iron rusts. You can breathe on it and the condensation will rust it in minutes. This is presumably why they treat cast iron pots black in the manufacturing process, and of course your cooking oils slowly cure it over time.
    – Engineer
    Jul 14 '17 at 2:41
  • @ArcaneEngineer Humidity only has to be high enough to be condensing under some conditions. Condensing humidity is a dealbreaker, all the magic sauce in the world won't stop the rust then. If breath condenses and doesn't go away in a few seconds, you are close to condensing conditions right then! Jul 14 '17 at 16:48

For most woodworking tools, there is no particular need or benefit from a "glassy" or totally-rust-free surface. A moderate case of smooth, tight, non-flaky rust is immaterial to the function. I put paste wax on (bowling-alley wax - unlike most floor waxes it does not have abrasives in it - you also want to avoid silicones or you may have finishing problems on your wood products) but until you reach the point of rust-stains on the wood or something like that, a bit of rust is not an issue. If only you'd bought yours used, someone else could have gotten the new off it for you and spared you the agony of seeing it become a tool in use, rather than a shiny thing that hasn't been used.

Most of the tools that get moderate use have a tight blackish layer - not shiny silver, not rusty orange.

  • 1
    Fair enough. Call me a stickler. I like smooth, shiny, "you can eat off it" surfaces to work on. I agree about the "tight blackish layer" - this is what one usually sees on cast iron equipment in workshops. I'll see if I can find that wax locally.
    – Engineer
    Jul 14 '17 at 2:45

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