Protecting Surfaces in the Shop
Machines, jigs and benches all benefit from being sealed and waxed
Synopsis: There’s no need to French polish your crosscut sled, but there are treatments that will make your jigs, benches, and machine tops work better and last longer. Basic finishes, such as shellac or paste wax, help keep accurate jigs from needing to be replaced, saving time and money. See how to keep your shop working at its most efficient.
From Fine Woodworking #167
We go to great lengths to protect the projects that leave our workshops from the rigors of everyday use, yet we often neglect our jigs, fixtures, shop cabinets, workbenches, and tools—the very objects that allow us to create fine furniture in the first place. There’s no need to French polish your crosscut sled, but there are treatments that will make your jigs, benches, and machine tops work better and last longer.
Bare metal will rust if not protected or used constantly. There are myriad products that purport to be the last word on metal protection. Each product claims to prevent rust and to leave a slick surface that will not contaminate wood. The ones I’ve tried have done neither, and I’m leery of applying oil to my saw top or jointer bed. As a consequence, I’ve adopted my own system for cleaning and protecting metal that works and doesn’t require much effort.
I remove the rust by buffing the surface with a green pot-scrubbing pad. Small items such as planes, chisels, or scrapers are buffed by hand, but large surfaces like my tablesaw or jointer get power-buffed with a 5-in. random-orbit sander. The hook-and-loop sanding pad holds the scrubber firmly while I guide it around the metal surface. Once it’s rust-free, I polish the surface with a wadded-up piece of waxed paper. Just enough wax (carnauba, I’ve been told) transfers…