View Full Version : Files - rust prevention

Herb W
07-20-2003, 01:31 PM
It's been hot & humid here lately and the files that I keep hanging on the wall at the workbench are starting to show some rust spots. Can't have my favorite bastards, smooths & fines rusting away, but at the same time I need to have them readily accessible for use. I s'pose the ultimate solution would be to control the humidity in the shop, but that's not going to happen right now. Ideas?

07-20-2003, 02:12 PM
To keep them clean and ready for use, one simple method of rust control is VCPI "vapor paper". I've had some bare steel tools in a wooden drawer for many (8 - 10) years with a single sheet of the stuff.

Another option would be to put a low wattage (8 to 10 watts should do) bulb in a cabinet or box with the tools. The slight temperature rise can offer a lot of protection. If you look at a dew point chart and measure your humidity and temp, you'll see how warm it needs to be kept (or how dry for a given temp) to prevent condensation on a surface.

07-20-2003, 03:04 PM
We all have our favorite bastards Herb.
When I don't something to rust, and I don't want to oil it, I use Sandaro Top Cote. This stuff was made for coating saw and planer tables to promote easy sliding of workpieces. It works great for that, but it is also an excellent rust inhibitor and dry lubricant. I spray it on intricate parts, jigs, etc. This stuff is very handy to have on hand. Get some, and you will find yourself using it a lot.

07-21-2003, 01:03 AM
Herb W:
Amsoils AMP will work, as will Starretts MP spray. I like amsoil's better as it leaves a dry film. Works great on door locks too - far better than graphite!

They have some heavy duty stuff for lubing ATV chains - don't use that stuff on guns (unless you intend to bury them). http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

07-21-2003, 03:49 AM
in a loosly related topic,

I had some very nasty rusty files and I electroliticaly removed the rust, and they came out rust free and relativly sharp, any one ever try this?



07-21-2003, 01:28 PM
Could you describe the technique you used for electrolytically cleaning your files? If it also memoves a bit of metal, thereby sharpening them, I'd like to try it. Thanks

07-21-2003, 02:19 PM
Put them in diluted sulphuric acid for a few hours and it will "restore" them. You can speed up the action tremendously by using the same setup as for anodising. However don't use your anodising bath as the steel will pollute it.

07-21-2003, 08:15 PM
A trick I lerned years back. If using a file, you do not want it to rust, try this. I go to a machine, get my hands oily, and run the file in my hands - walah, like a knurl, it picks up the machine oil and does not rust.

To clean out, get a file card, and a piece of plain old chalkboard chalk. Chalk up the file good time, let set a couple of minutes, then clean with the card. The chalk picks out the oil, and even chips like kitty litter (AKA speedy dry).

I use chalk anytime I use a file for precision or nice looking work, keeps the little chips from filling the teeth, and prevents "pining" or those big old scratches a file can leave when "recutting" a surface with a chip embedded.

07-22-2003, 04:16 AM
Oh sure, just because you get it free doesn't mean you have to rub it in!

The old railroad chalk works good. Nice big fat pieces for big fat hands. Its not easy being a 389Lb gorilla...or green for that matter. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

07-22-2003, 06:20 AM
Constant use is the answer!

07-22-2003, 11:32 AM
Sidewalk chalk, cheap at the supermarket, large size, good for my arthritic hands. I will pick some up tonight. Thanks for the tip, that's one I didn't know.

07-22-2003, 11:50 AM
I will probably receive the wrath of Thrud, but I was taught to keep files oiled, and then when ready for use to dip them into acetone. I've also discovered that while using the file, it often picks up skin oils and doesn't cut as well, again, a quick dip in the acetone and I'm ready to go. Of course a good file card and chalk are always present. I don't have rust problems and I live on the coast and my files are in a non climate controlled area.

Herb W
07-22-2003, 11:46 PM
Thanks fellas...I'll be trying some of your methods.

BTW, most of my files are Nicholson but I also have a couple (older ones) that are labelled "Black Diamond" - made in Canada.
Anyone know anything about this brand?

07-22-2003, 11:54 PM
Best files ever made (at least in Canada http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif). Have not seen one in 20 years.

07-23-2003, 12:29 AM
I have a related question........after I finish making my little products, all of the steel is oil blackened, and the parts are assembled, if they sit around for a week or two I get some rust on some of the steel, including the screw heads.

My question is this; would I do better to wrap the finished pieces in saran wrap, locking out(or, possibly in) any moisture....or storing them, as usual in thier cardboard boxes with paper towels, absorbing any moisture, while possibly retaining moisture near the piece longer than it might have been without the paper towel?

I cant cover the pieces in a bunch of oil, and I've been putting dessicants in the boxes with poor results.

How's that for a clumsily asked question?


07-23-2003, 01:06 AM
Again, Sandaro brand "Top Cote" spray. Sure you cant spray a light coat of lube (like WD 40) on it? Brake cleaner will clean it off in a second. Some guys here recommend camphor, never tried it. If you don't want it to rust, coat it with something. If I can't paint, oil, wax, or blue it, I Top Cote it. My drill rod is stored in a cardboard box hosed with WD 40 on the inside. Works fine for me.

Paul Gauthier
07-23-2003, 05:57 PM
I also use Top Coat for various rust prevention. Works like magic.

07-23-2003, 10:25 PM
Our school went to white boards about ten years back, so I have to buy my own chalk.

Yes, I do occassionally swipe my kids sidewalk chalk pieces that "get too small'.

Black diamond files are good, I have four in my shop. Seem to have a coating - black - like the drill bits.

For long storage, I advise against saran wrap, tends to trap moisture and condensation. I have the habit of taking brown paper towel, spraying the towel with WD 40, does not have to be heavy, but not too light either, then wrapping items. The sprayed paper acts like that "oiled paper" you get mics and such in. AND very little residue on the items. WD is "Water Displacement".

Speaking of WD 40, tried something for fun late this school year. Had a bunch of water on the CNC mill table after using it to flush toe coolant system - only access for water fill is by holes in the table. Flushed, still a bit of standing water in the "T-slots". Sprayed WD 40 in the slots, and the water just ran crazy right to the holes, and was totally displaced. Did the same in the coolant tank, and was able to completely clear the tank of free water, as well as keeping a very light coat in the tank over the summer.

I never leave coolant in machines for summer if it can be prevented, smells like heck on first start.