How to Keep Your Tools and Machines Rust-Free

May 24, 2019 12:53 pm

Rust occurs when iron, or an alloy containing iron, is exposed to oxygen and moisture for a long period of time. If your shop is located in a particularly humid area, you’re likely to be familiar with the issue and you’ve probably already found yourself in the painful situation of finding your tools covered in rust.

Luckily, you don’t need to move your shop to a drier climate to avoid the problem. There are several different solutions and products that will help prevent your tools from rusting. Let’s take a look at them.


Keep the air in your shop dry

Controlling the internal conditions of a machine shop is the first thing you should do to prevent rust from forming on tools and machines. Since rust is related to humidity, the goal is to keep the air as dry as possible.

The best way to control humidity and temperature is by installing an AC system. However, this solution might be expensive and is not always practical. If you are looking for a less expensive option, we recommend keeping the doors of your shop closed as much as possible and running a fan to keep the air moving. Another solution is to get a good dehumidifier like this.


Move your tools to a more dry area

Placing sensitive machine tools near an open door that’s exposed to outside elements is not recommended if want to keep them safe from rust. When possible, try to place machines and tools in areas that are less exposed to humidity and that are away from doors.


Treat your tools with rust preventive products

Using rust preventive products on your tools is the easiest and most affordable way to keep them rust-free. Here are our favorite picks:




The LPS 3 is one of the best and most commonly used rust inhibitors in machine shops. It’s fairly cheap and will protect your clamps, vises, tables, etc. for up to two years. All you need to do is spray a light coating on your tool and then spread it around with a clean paper towel.




Specifically created for firearms, this solution creates a thin film around metal surfaces that protects them from moisture and other contaminants. It’s perfect for cleaning, lubricating and protecting your tools from rust.


Rust removal

All the solutions listed above are a great way to avoid the threat of rust, but what if your tools are already rusted? Luckily, there are ways to remove it. The best solution is Evapo-Rust. Available in liquid or gel form, this product is specifically formulated to remove rust and requires no special equipment. All you have to do is soak your parts in the liquid formula or cover them in the gel and let them sit for a few hours. Take a look at how Adam Booth (aka Abom79) used it to clean rusted tap wrenches and C-clamps.



Cleaning rust from tools is a pretty simple process and you can achieve good results, but our recommendation is to always try to prevent your machines and tools from rusting in the first place. With just a few easy methods and the right product, you’ll be able to keep your tools and machines rust-free and ready for action.



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  • Old Guy says:

    Used chamfor blocks for years, the vapor gets into places that a spray won’t and no residue to wipe off. Works great in the Mid-South.

  • ED says:

    There is one item that is fairly illusive that I have been using for a few years. It actually lives up to its claims and very hard to find it is called Gibbs lubricant. I have never seen it in a store. You can get it on ebay. I am 79 yrs old and I never used anything like it, You can even paint over it.

  • wayne says:

    Put camphor blocks in your tool box.

  • gert7to3 says:

    Use fabric backed rubber material to cover tools, especially saw tables. Rust results from moisture. Moisture condenses on cold tool surafces when the temperature rises in a cold, damp shop.

  • Matt says:

    I had a ductless A/C/heater installed. Not cheap but considering the cost of tools and machinery, not expensive.

  • Mark says:

    I live in Florida, my shop is in my garage. I leave a small oscillating fan on at all times to keep the air moving. Although this does not completely stop rust from happening i have found it really helps control it.

  • Peter says:

    You could zip-tie a tubular gun-safe heater (“GoldenRod” is a brand I remember; there probably are others) to an out-of-the-way part of the main tool casting (like under the bed of a lathe). It doesn’t produce a LOT of heat – not enough to be an issue unless you’re running a super-precision shop, in which case you’re probably fully airconditioned anyway – but it warms things enough to keep moisture from condensing on the metal.

    The heaters come in a range of sizes.

  • John says:

    I keep my cramps, non-chromed wrenches, metal stock, hammers etcetera in the airing cupboard. The wife complains noisily but I’m undeterred. Rusty tools give me the shakes.

  • Dale says:

    I have found that “Bo Guard” T9 works very well on my equipment here in Florida’s humidity.

  • Mike says:

    I prefer “Heavy Coat Rust Preventive”, item #145220 from to LPS3. It dries faster and leaves a less gooey coating. It’s made for outdoor storage of injection molds, although I see on their website they also have tool steel protectant, rust inhibitor, rust remover etc. They’ve got all of the good stuff to keep precision metal finishes free from blemish.

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