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Cleaning and Keeping Router Bits Rust Free…


By Leshy Friedman

Considering I’m a new blogger here, I thought I’d start off with a helpful hint from way back when I was a young apprentice in my first, neighborhood carpentry.  One of the first jobs I was assigned was to clean up and organize the storage shed and, thinking back, I now imagine the carpenter that gave me that job was having a bit of a chuckle!  Years of neglect, saw dust and grime waxed so thick I could barely pick out the drill bits, router bits, ratchet parts, handsaws and screw drivers from the muck.  There were open air shelves of clutter stacked right up to the ceiling and I found literally hundreds of odds and ends that were formerly MIA. When I had finally cleaned out the entire shed, so much of the equipment was rusted and ruined that we were only able to save a few boxes worth. So there was no doubt that we had to replace most of the rusted parts with new, preferably carbide tipped, tools and bits that ensure a longer shelf life, but how was I supposed to restore the semi-rusted parts we’d salvaged? And how could I prevent all those parts from getting back into the same state again? 

Many of us are fairly familiar with this scene and know full well that oxygen, humidity and dust are a carpenter’s worst enemy, causing all his uncoated steel bits to rust and weaken. So when the job finally calls for that piece you’ve been hanging onto for just the right occasion, you find yourself heading to the hardware store for a new part.  So, how do you keep all those little bits and parts clean and strong for the next 20 years?  

Old Terry, one of the carpenters, offered me this advice: group each piece by purpose and size and put each group into a labeled jar filled with unscented kerosene (aka. Paraffin if you live in the UK) for two days.  That will clean off most of the rust and decay with almost no effort.  Then take each piece out of its jar using tongs or pliers, wipe it down, spray it with oil and place it back in its kerosene filled jar and put the jar away in your tool cabinet for safe keeping.  That will prevent it from rusting again, keep the steel strong and make it a breeze to find what you need for years to come.

Please Note: When it comes time to use that bit or part, don’t forget to dry it out first because wet kerosene can leave marks on your wood.  


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