It doesn't take long in damp air for corrosion to appear on your expensive woodworking tools. Below, Michael Dresdner and Rob Johnstone offer a few words of advice on dealing with the adverse effects of a humid shop.
Q. I am in the process of setting up a woodworking shop in my basement. The basement is dry, but can get humid on occasion. Should I be concerned about my woodworking equipment rusting? If so, what can I do to prevent it?
A. Rob Johnstone: “There are several products on the market that protect against rust. It pretty easy to prevent surface rust on the exposed areas of your equipment, but the hidden (or more accurately enclosed) areas are a bit trickier. It would not hurt one bit to invest in a de-humidifier: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
A. Michael Dresdner: “Congratulations, and welcome to the club! You are about to embark on a long and very satisfying career of perpetually yearning to buy new tools, and trying valiantly to shoehorn them into your shop.
“There are two things you can do to keep them from rusting, and I would suggest doing both. First, coat all the exposed (unpainted) surfaces with either paste wax, or one of the many rust preventative coatings (Boeshield, Slipit, etc.), all of which work even better than wax. Second, invest in a good dehumidifier and run it during the wet season. (See, I told you this would lead to buying new tools!)”
From the Woodworker's Journal eZine archives
A dehumidifier is the most logical solution for a damp shop, and there's more than one reason to invest in one. Excessively humid air not only speeds up corrosion, it affects the moisture content (and thereby dimensions) of any lumber you store in your shop. Build something with lumber that's been sitting around in a damp basement - you'll be in for a surprise when the wood dries out.
Bringing the humidity down in a damp shop doesn't eliminate the need for tool maintenance, on the other hand. Corrosion still takes place in "normal" ranges of relative humidity, although at a slower pace. Along with the effects of moisture, dust and grit routinely produced in a woodshop get into working parts and cause wear, and buildups of resin on blades and tool surfaces causes increased friction and poor tool performance. The small amount of time and money involved in taking care of your tools and protecting them from the elements and excessive wear is a very worthy investment. Read more about what's involved in Rockler's article, "Tool Maintenance Made Easy". And if that inspires you to step-up tool care program, you'll find everything you need in tool maintenance supplies right here at Rockler.