It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie. Rust is alive! Okay, it can’t think and it’s not planning to take over the planet—but you need to do something as soon as you see it if you want to preserve your tools.

The best defense is a proactive approach. Here’s what you need to know.

Control the Climate

By far, the best way to prevent tool rust is to control the climate of your workshop. It’s not a possibility. It’s a given. If you live in a humid client, you’re going to get rust. It’s vital to control the humidity in your workshop by installing a dehumidifier.

If you’re not familiar with how dehumidifiers work, they’re basically an air conditioner. The cool coils in the dehumidifier create condensation, which pulls the moisture from the air in your workshop. Dehumidifiers are not expensive, and they can be set up to run automatically.

What happens to the water the dehumidifier pulls from the air? Most dehumidifiers collect it in a slide-out container that must be emptied. However, many offer the option to connect a hose that can be directed to either a drain or to an outside area.

Think Small

If you’re lucky and you have a very large workshop, you may not want to go the dehumidifier route. This is especially true if you’re a woodworker and you’ve got wood that you’re going to acclimatize before creating things with it.

If that’s the case, you likely don’t want to control the climate of your entire workshop—just the area where you store your tools. What you need is a tool chest. Sure, it’s great to have all your prized tools out on racks where you can see them—but this exposes them to humidity and the consequence is rust.

A tool chest allows you to have a microclimate. This smaller area can be moisture-controlled, and you don’t even have to install a dehumidifier. It’s easy to purchase silica jell packs. They are those things you often find when you open up a bottle of vitamins, or sometimes they’re even stuffed inside a new pair of shoes. These packs absorb humidity

You can also use old-fashioned mothballs. Look for ones that are made with camphor. This substance gives off a gas that interferes with oxidation—the scientific word for what causes rust.

Miracle Truss® metal building kits for shops are a favorite for woodworkers and other craftspeople who own tools. The designs featured edge mounted purlins and girts. This allows you to insulate your workshop just like standard wood frame home construction. You can use standard insulation and regular drywall. This can go a long way towards controlling humidity, which will keep that rust off your tools.

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