Introduction: Table Saw Rust Removal

I recently inherited an old Delta table saw from my Grandfather, but had no good place to put it other than in a ruddy old shed. In a short time, the cast iron top of the saw started rusting. I had tried the quick rust fixes... vinegar... using a tarp to protect the table... but the rust came back.

Rust is cancer! It spreads, and to stop it you must kill all of it! Rust killed my first car and my parent's above ground pool. I wasn't going to let it take my grandpa's saw too!

This requires no special tools, and can be done rather quickly, and was much easier than I had thought!

Step 1: Manual Removal

Access the amount of rust you actually have. If there is only surface rust with some minor pitting (When the rust has eaten into the table top) then clean up won't be so bad. The best thing you can do is catch it early!

If your metal object has been sitting out for years and has major rust damage, it may not be worth anything when you get the rust off... :-(

For a table saw to be effective, the table needs to be flat. In my case, My saw was covered in rust, but only had minor pitting.

Begin working with a stiff metal bristle brush. (like these from Harbor Freight: http://www.harborfreight.com/3-piece-heavy-duty-w...)

Take your time knocking off the larger chunks of rust and scour the whole surface. Be wary of how much rust dust you're kicking up in the air, it might be a good idea to wear a mask and eye protection!

Finally wipe the surface clean with some paper towel. If you do a good job here, the following steps will be easier.

Step 2: Chemical Removal

Skip the Vinegar and go for some good old-fashioned Naval Jelly (6 to 8 Bucks at your local Hardware store)

This stuff works quickly and does a great job. It's a thick, gloopy jelly made of mostly Phosphoric Acid. WEAR GLOVES when handling this stuff.

Brush, or glob of on to your rusty surface and spread it around. Allow a thick layer to sit and work for 5 to 10 minutes, then wipe it up along with the rust. It can be thinned and sprayed with a paint sprayer if you have a large area to cover.

After removing the surface rust, apply more jelly to the pitted areas and use some elbow grease and a rag to work it in to the rust. Use a clean metal brush if you need to. The rust comes up in no time!

Step 3: The Details

In the first image you can really see the difference that jelly makes!

To get the last bits of rust off the table, and from within the miter slots, a little hand sanding will be needed.

I take some 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper and use the Naval Jelly as a lubricant for some set sanding. Here, a little goes a long way.

For big flat areas on the table top, I attached some of the sandpaper to a flat board with some spray adhesive. This makeshift sanding block covers a lot of ground quickly.

I used a dab of jelly and a small scrap of sandpaper for the finer details and hard to reach areas like the miter slots, and the walls of the "throat" where the throat plate and blade reside.

When finished, you need to rinse the surface with water to remove any residual acid. Rinse with a water soaked rag and dry thoroughly.

Step 4: Protect It!

After all the Cancer is removed, protect your metal to prevent it's return.

Once the surface is dry I covered the surface with WD-40, and spread it thin with a rag. Then, I used some more! Protecting your metal tools with WD-40 is a great thing to do if you store them for a cold winter like I do. (For those of you who don't know, the WD in WD-40 stands for Water Displacement. Rust prevention and removing water from mechanical systems was the original designed purpose of this product, but now it has hundreds of uses)

Alternatively, you can protect the surface of the table with a coat of paste wax or paraffin wax. These waxes also smooth the surface of the table saw so wood can more easily glide across it. There are also specialized products like Bostik Top-Cote (https://www.amazon.com/Bostik-10220-Aerosol-Top-Co...) that are meant for this purpose.

DISCLAIMER! Only use WD-40 if you aren't planning to use the saw for a while. If you use the saw after it has been freshly lubricated, WD-40 can be picked up by the wood you are using and cause major issues when you are trying to apply a finish to the wood.

I hope that this instructable helps you out. Now get to work with that saw!

Comments

author
BigCountry made it! (author)2016-12-25

wax. Lay a thick coating of car wax on the top if it's going to be stored for a while. when you're ready to use it, just buff it out. I have the same saw you have (I think, old Delta contractor saw). I took it Guam while in the Navy, and now it sits in an old barn. 24 years old and not a speck of dust on it.

author
bmiller91 made it! (author)2016-11-01

Rather than remove rust entirely you might consider using a rust
neutralizing paint. This stuff is AWESOME as it converts rust to a
black coating which is itself resistant to further rusting. There are a
number of brands but example

http://www.loctiteproducts.com/p/s_trmt_extend_spray/overview/Loctite-Extend-Rust-Neutralizer-Spray.htm

author

I was actually thinking about doing a full restoration and painting it. I'll keep this in mind! Thanks!

author
HWACK made it! (author)2016-11-03

MURIATIC ACID much cheaper faster just neutralize, brush, regards

author

Wouldn't Hydrochloric acid also eat at and dissolve the useable iron?! that would produce Ferric Chloride. could do more harm than good if you're not careful.

author
bemars55 made it! (author)2016-11-03

I just used those green scrubbing pads and a little mineral spirits. After scrubbing and cleaning with rags. Let dry then some Turtle wax ( For waxing cars). After about 10 years it's still going good.

author
FlorinJ made it! (author)2016-11-01

I wouldn't do this to any surface I need to be plane. A few repeats and your table saw will be slightly wavy - not enough to see it, but enough to have you wonder why your cut pieces no longer come out perfectly straight.

author

correct. I mentioned this. thats why I did most on my sanding with a plank of wood.

author
DurocShark made it! (author)DurocShark2016-11-01

The top of your saw should be more planar than any board can be. Granted, an old saw is probably a little warped anyway, especially the "contractor's" style since the motor and arbor hang from the top. And anything 220 or higher will take a LONG time to make a difference. But keep it in mind.

Wax will be far superior to WD-40. Even better are products like Boeshield T-9.

I've restored several old woodworking tools over the years. I'm currently rocking an 80's Craftsman I picked up for next to nothing. Here's my cman writeup: http://blog.woodscrub.info/2014/08/craftsman-table-saw-from-80s.html And an old Rockwell combo TS and jointer: http://blog.woodscrub.info/2007/10/rockwell-family-has-moved-in.html

author
haroun made it! (author)2016-11-01

I bought a tablesaw with a pretty thoroughly rusted top, not pitted, just allover rust, & coated it with a grease called Fluid Film, let it set for a month or 2, then took an angle grinder with a cup wire wheel to it. Looks great, & the wire wheel is much less likely to abrade, gouge, or damage the able top.

author
machinejack made it! (author)2016-11-01

From 40 years of tool and die making experience I find IMHO WD-40 has no place in the shop. It fish eyes any thing painted anywhere around it. Gums up when it dries plus when used for long time storage it attracts dust and you end up with a messy film on your tools . I used LPS to some success. On my table saw I use Johnson past wax applied with some scotch brite. On the milling machines I use just a light machine oil, marvel mystery oil, 20 wt non detergent works well. The old gentleman that ran the shop would not allow a can in the shop. But then we only used lard oil and kerosene for cutting fluid so go figure.

author

thanks for the feed back! I knew that the WD-40 was only a temporary fix. I bought myself a can on the Bostick top cote that I mentioned In the Instructible. any one have any experience with it?

author
lmcdaniel3 made it! (author)lmcdaniel32016-11-01

good pointz but the stuff does have uses.. this just ain't one o fthem.

author
toyowner made it! (author)2016-11-01

there are some good surface protectants for saw tops that protect and provide friction reduction to help guide material through the blade.

author
itsmescotty made it! (author)2016-11-01

The orbital sander idea works but takes a lot of time and paper - I've done it. Another method, dangerous and not recommended is a 10" grinder with a recessed center hole totally flat on the metal surface, do not use the edge of the grinder. Dusty as hell! I've mitigated the dust by using a small amount of flowing water over the (removed) top. The result, because of the use of the 10" disk, is a 'like new' top - bright and shiny. And flat because of size of the disk. I've also used a cup grinding wheel with outstanding results. Last project I worked on I used a diamond cup wheel and copious amounts of water to keep the diamonds cool and eliminate dust. You will get messy.

author
itsmescotty made it! (author)2016-11-01

why bother with Naval Jelly when you can purchase a Fallon of phosphoric acid for $10 to $15. My Ace store sells it for $15 and HD for $10.

I agree with the others that WD-40 has many uses but preventing rust is not one of them. If you believe in the stuff use it to clean oil or grease off a piece of steel (that doesn't have mill scale on it) and see how long it takes that piece of steel to rust.

author
sirron1957 made it! (author)2016-11-01

When I've had a surface rust problem I put a medium grit sandpaper on my orbital sander and it does a great job removing the rust.

author
lmcdaniel3 made it! (author)2016-11-01

the WD will evap pretty quickly.
I spray mine down with cheap clear enamel and light sand it before a 2nd coat.

author
wb5nyn made it! (author)2016-11-01

Steel Wool also is a good way to break the rust loose. After the top is completely done and it is nice and shining use some Johnson paste wax on the top. This will help keep the rust away and makes for a nice slick surface to slide the material across when cutting. I enjoiyed the post.

author
casino_trains made it! (author)2016-11-01

Very nice! Have to admit I like this one better than others.

Doc

author
skrubol made it! (author)2016-11-01

For preventing rust I've heard CLP (Cleaner Lubricant Preservative) by break-free is one of the best out there. I can't remember which formula is best for tools, but it's a much heavier oil that leaves a thin, slippery coating.

Probably worse than the WD if you're going to be using it with wood right away, but I would expect it to do much better at holding the rust off if you're storing it. You'd probably need to clean the CLP off with something like WD-40 before use.

author
livichris made it! (author)2016-10-30

I've just bought a second hand lathe and the exposed metal parts are like this.

guess what I'm doing to be doing next Saturday!

author

Good Luck Mate!

Have fun Turning!

author
Anirudh Ralhan made it! (author)2016-10-30

Extremely useful!!!! Will try this right away :)

author
DIY Hacks and How Tos made it! (author)2016-10-30

Impressive difference. I should probably do this with some of my tools.

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