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I got a table saw for Christmas because I have the best wife ever!!

I immediately got it set up in the garage and made a few test cuts, then headed back inside to hibernate for the rest of the winter. Like a nimrod, I did not immediately wax the surface, so now it's got a few rust spots on it, including some lines from where the fence had been parked.

large rust spot with scale for scale

rust lines from the fence

My plan is to gently scrub the rusted areas with some 0000 steel wool, then rub in a good automotive paste wax once it's cleaned up.

Is there anything else I can/should do to remove the rust?

Is there something better (more highly recommended) than an automotive paste wax for future protection?


I know you're not supposed to provide answers as updates to the question, but since I closed this as a dupe...

My initial WD-40™ and steel wool didn't seem to do anything but make the table oily, so I went out in search of some supplies. After have a number of people look at me as though I was speaking Greek, I finally found some Naval Jelly and a tin of furniture wax.

I spot treated with the naval jelly and it worked great, but left the surface looking horrible. After reviewing the links in the dupe target, plus the "this one" in Graphus' comment, I jellied the whole surface. I worked 1 section at a time and let it soak for about 10 minutes, wiped it off, then rinsed it off with a damp sponge. I did use masking tape to mask off the wings (painted, pressed steel) and the rails (front and rear), just to be on the safe side.

I broke out the RO sander and a 220 grit disk. Moving constantly, I sanded each section smooth. It looks factory fresh!

I got a bit impatient and didn't let the last section (as defined by the miter slots) sit for a full 10 minutes, and it shows - it's just not quite as evenly colored as the rest, but it's still just fine.

I applied the wax (I couldn't find Johnson's, so I used Minwax) with a shop rag. I buffed it in by tossing the rag on the table top and putting the RO on top of that. (I need to buy a buffer.) I think this 1-lb can of wax will last me a few lifetimes.

After:

Shiny new looking saw table - left side

Shiny new looking saw table - right side
You can still see some of the marks from the naval jelly on this side. :(

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  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Recovering from a rusted table saw top -- and protecting it in future ;-) There's also this one.
    – Graphus
    Sep 10 '21 at 7:12
  • Seriously, why didn't the auto search find those as I was typing this up? I knew there had to be a dupe somewhere, I just couldn't find it. :(
    – FreeMan
    Sep 10 '21 at 11:15
  • Not having ever asked a Q here I can't say ^_^ Seriously though, I didn't know there was an auto-search when entering a Question! I did hope the first previous Q&A covered the ground you need, but even if it and the other old one hadn't you've gotten two good Answers here with maybe a fresh perspective on the issue.
    – Graphus
    Sep 10 '21 at 17:48
  • Ho. Ly. Cow!!! You've never asked a question!!!! Um... I'm not sure whether to be impressed, scared, or simply bow in reverence...
    – FreeMan
    Sep 10 '21 at 17:51
  • Have to say, I am surprised the factory-applied rust protectant (I presume there was one!) really let you down here. I presume you wiped the surface down if it had an actual film on it, but still the residue should have provided some shield. This is why I'm such a fan of wax over oil, since you can't as easily remove every trace of it and there's more on the surface to begin with without it being obnoxious.
    – Graphus
    Sep 10 '21 at 17:52
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My preference for removing rust like this is to sand using rubber abrasive blocks, Garryflex. Klingspor make a similar product, Sandflex. They are like rust erasers! Garryflex

I start by local sanding of rust spots using medium grit and when almost all is gone I switch to long strokes over entire area. I usually finish using a fine block working in the same direction. I have lost my cardboard sleeves but if I recall they recommended lubricating using a light oil, but you can use water with detergent added and I find this more effective.

Your saw table looks quite large, although the rust is very minor maybe you would prefer to use your randomorbit sander?

sanding table

To protect the iron after sanding I used automotive wax before, but I understand that you must ensure it contains no silicon when used on woodworking equipment.

Although Ballistol is very popular here for rust prevention now I use paste wax based on comparisons found on the internet because it is cheaper and I use it on my wood projects anyway. I was very doubtful but Wd-40 does very well in these comparisons!

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  • Why no silicon? I've been using a spray specifically made for table-saw tops that claims to contain silicon without any issues so far. Oct 1 '21 at 18:23
  • Hi, silicon is known to cause finish issues such as the "fish-eyes" or "pinholes" which are hard to overcome.
    – Volfram K
    Oct 2 '21 at 4:00
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I typically use Scotch Brite pads to knock off surface rust from cast iron surfaces, together with some light cleaner (or being lazy, WD-40). Very fine steel wool will work as well, and even fine grit sandpaper would serve in a pinch.

As for waxing, I stick to furniture wax, under the assumption that anything one puts on the table saw will be picked up by the wood being worked, and it would be better to use things that are meant for wood (and won't interfere with gluing and finishing).

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  • This is pretty much how I do it. White vinegar and ScotchBrite pads are a good combination too. I tried olive oil once...going for the "vinegar and oil thing" but furniture wax applied every 4-6 weeks seems to work the best.
    – gnicko
    Sep 14 '21 at 20:35

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