Question: What should I use to keep hand tools from rusting? I’ve seen suggestions ranging from paste wax to WD-40 to camellia oil. Do any of those substances work better than good old 40-weight motor oil?
-- Jerry Malone , Pueblo , CO

Answer:

In my experience, light rust on hand tools means that the shop is too humid. If you can, keep the shop heated and cooled; at a minimum, run a dehumidifier during the summer.

If climate control isn’t practical, coat the metal surfaces of hand tools with a substance that keeps rust away. Paste wax will work. Just buff it with 0000 steel wool to remove the excess, and reapply the wax regularly because it wears away with use. You also can store tools in a canvas tool bag in a room that has reasonable humidity levels. But I wouldn’t use camellia oil or motor oil. In my experience, they stain the wood, and I don’t like the oily feel when I use the tool.


From Fine Woodworking #186 August 10, 2006