Revive Your Cast Iron Table Saw: Get Rid of Rust with WD-40
Table saws are a valuable tool in any woodworker's arsenal, but they require proper maintenance to ensure they continue to function well.
One area that can be particularly vulnerable to damage is the top of the saw. Rust and stains can accumulate on the surface, making it harder for the workpiece to glide across smoothly. In this blog post, we will discuss how to clean and maintain the top of your table saw without causing any damage.
The first step in cleaning the top of your saw is to remove any rust that may have accumulated. If the rust is only on the surface, you can remove it with 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper. Use a lubricant, such as mineral spirits or WD-40, to help break the bonds between the rust and the cast iron. Be careful not to apply too much pressure, as this can cause uneven spots on the surface.
If your saw has stains on the top, such as from a spilled drink, don't worry too much about removing them. While you should try to get them as clean as possible, don't apply more pressure to that area than you do to the other areas of the saw that don't have stains. A little bit of staining just shows that the saw is being used as the tool it is.
First things first, you'll want to make sure you've got some rubber gloves on before you start. WD-40 is great for breaking up rust, but it's not something you want all over your skin. Next, you'll want to spray some of the original WD-40 formula onto the table and let it soak in for a little bit.
After you've let it soak, grab a surface conditioning pad or Scotch Brite pad and use it to rub the WD-40 in. This will allow the product to break up the rust and try to break the bond that the rust has between itself and the metal.
As you work on the table, you'll want to make sure you're going with the grain of the metal. You may find that the table looks worse before it looks better, but don't worry – this is normal.
Once you've scrubbed with the Scotch Brite pad, you'll want to spray the table down with some degreaser and wipe it off with some paper towels. It's important to get as much of the product off as you can in between steps so that you're not cross-contaminating your Scotch Brite pad.
If you have an orbital sander, you can fold a pad in half and use it to work out any scratches and scuffs that might still be on the table. Be careful not to remove any material from the table, though – it's a precision surface and you don't want to mess with its integrity.
Once you have removed any rust or stains, the next step is to clean off any slurry left behind from the sanding process. Naphtha is a great choice for this, as it will break down all the grease and help you wipe it all off. This will leave behind a clean cast-iron surface that's ready for a finish.
To protect the top of your saw from future rust, apply a coat of paste wax. This will wear off as you pass wood across it, so you'll need to reapply it periodically. How often you need to do this depends on how often you use your saw. Once a month is a good guideline, but you may need to do it more or less frequently depending on your usage.
Finally, some people may worry that the wax will transfer to the wood and affect their finish later. However, this is not typically a problem. The wax is a very thin coat that is hardened by the buffing process, so it's unlikely to transfer to the wood in any significant way.
In conclusion, cleaning and maintaining the top of your table saw is an important task for any woodworker. By following these tips, you can keep your saw functioning well and ensure that your workpiece glides across the surface smoothly. Remember to be gentle when removing rust or stains, and to apply paste wax regularly to protect the surface from future damage.