I have always been fastidious about keeping rust off my tools. I have to be. My shop is partially underground and we live in a humid river city. Blink, and your tools will turn to iron oxide.
The most difficult tools to keep rust-free are the machines, especially my Unisaw for some reason. The cast iron in my old Powermatic jointer is almost impervious to rust, and I don’t have a good explanation. The iron appears very finely grained, or at least is finished to look that way.
Anyway, a couple months ago we had a party at our house, and a lot of non-woodworkers ended up in my shop, drinking beer and hanging out.
The next morning I cleaned up the house and found several beer bottles sitting on my Unisaw. And each had deposited a nice rusty, crusty bloom on the iron top.
I took some steel wool to the rust. No luck. Then I tried a variety of other chemical and abrasive treatments that had worked before. The iron was still stained and coated with some nasty, nasty rust.
I looked around and wondered what to do. My eyes alighted on my Benchcrafted carbide Skraper. I use this tool all the time to scrape dried glue off panels (when I leave glue behind). It is an awesome piece of equipment.
I thought: Carbide is way, way harder than iron.
So I gingerly stroked the Skraper across the iron top, and a layer of rust came off. I used a little more pressure and the top was clean, as in “new” clean — and the milling marks from the Blanchard grinding faded a bit.
Now, I don’t want to upset the machinists here. I know that scraping an iron top by hand will take it out of flat. But I contend that your table saw top’s flatness does not have to be like a machinist’s granite plate for your saw to work really well.
Once I scraped the top, I looked at it with a straightedge and feeler gauges. It was still really darn flat. The rust is gone, and the saw works fine.
I’d do it again. But then, I’m not a machinist.
— Christopher Schwarz
Yup, I Have Power Tools
“Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” I believe Socrates first said that. I do have power tools, but they are few and they are in subservience to the hand tools. But if I did want to abandon all my power equipment, I’d read Jim Tolpin’s “The New Traditional Woodworker,” which is a book about one man saving his soul through hand tools. It’s a great book.