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What do people in humid climes do about rust?


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I'm in the UK and normally warm weather and humidity don't feature in my conversations :rolleyes:

However, I have recently managed to move off the back yard patio and into our house's small cellar where - at last - I have been able to put in place a proper workbench and a number of my other tools.

The cellar has an issue common to many older houses - it is bone dry in the winter, but in the summer, there is a humidity issue with the moisture in the air condensing on the cooler surfaces of the cellar and contents.  Ventilation isn't an answer to this issue (and there is plenty of ventilation) as the more air you bring in, the more moisture comes with it.  The most effective answer has been to put a floor covering down and use a heater in the summer (yes - quite!).  For most purposes, this works OK.....

...until I opened my planes drawer last night.






I haven't even photo'd my only (and probably only ever) Lie Niesen plane....too flipping upsetting!

Other than the router plane, the blades were largely unaffected and I've wire-wooled all of the surface rust off - but man, it's gone DEEP.  The pull-shave is brand new and now - even with all of the surface rust off - looks like a pitted much loved and used 60 year old tool!

Clearly, presently, the planes are going to have to be kept elsewhere and brought out only when in use, but - well what do you folk in warmer, damper climates do?  Having visited a number of places that forum members live in, I know that your climates are significantly warmer and moister than my cellar.  Any tips? 

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Hi Andy.

I'm down in Houston TX and we have high humidity and high temps as a matter of course and oddly enough, I really don't see much of that. All my tools are in a non-climate controlled garage. I think the trick is it rarely gets cool enough for condensation to form.

It's not unheard of though. I did have that happen to a table saw at work that had a cast iron bed and was stored in warehouse space over the winter. Twas a hell of a lot of work getting the rust off. I then did what most do around here and that is to spray a light coat of WD-40 on it. I do the same thing in the garage when it does come up. You have to wipe it off to use the tools and give it a light coat again before putting them away.


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IME in cooler climates ventilation is actually one of the better things you can do. And by ventilation I mean the exchange of air (air in/air out) rather than simply allowing outside air in.

My workshop area is built on the side of a hill, unheated 24/7 all year. In winter it will rarely get any sun owing to the shadow of the hill and surrounding houses and trees. It should be cold and damp in there, but it's also far from airtight, so air is able to get in and through quite easily. Nearly all of my tools are kept on unenclosed racks and none exhibit the rusting yours have done.

Maybe some kind of exhaust or air exchange fan to allow damp air to escape could help? Storing the tools somewhere where the air can get to them, rather than locked away in a drawer or cupboard may also minimise rust buildup. Buckets of those dehumidifying crystals may be a good idea, although you'll have to keep on replacing them every few weeks. Reverse cycle heating or dehumidifiers are the premium option but also costly to install and run.

A cheap digital temperature/relative humidity meter could be useful to help find which parts of the cellar are the dampest.

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Useful tips and thoughts, folks - thanks :)

The storage of the planes in a drawer was certainly one issue - I have chisels and other tools in a rack above the bench and they are not at all affected - so far.

The ventilation is good - and there is a powerful extractor in there too because it is where my wife's pottery kiln used to be.  What I might do is get a hydrometer (don't think I mean that.....I mean an air moisture measurer) and try a few of the things out that you suggest to see what makes what difference.  We did hire an industrial dehumidifier a number of years ago but it was just drawing in moist air from outside through the air bricks and producing gallons of water each day, every day.

In the meantime, I will keep the planes upstairs and just bring them out when I need to use them and keep my eye on anything else housed in the cellar.  I will also start oiling some of the tools as @ScottR suggests if they are likely to be exposed over a longer period.

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