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We obtained this very nice JET table saw a while back but the surface had gotten some water sitting on it and started to get a rust spot. Unfortunately, someone got a bit overzealous and thought it would be a good idea to use a chemical rust remover. This did remove the rust mostly, but it also seems to have damaged the surface. Perhaps there was a coating it removed. Now it is discolored, streaky, spotty, and seems to rust easier. enter image description here

  1. How can I safely clean and restore the surface?
  2. How can I maintain it?

EDIT: This is it after a very quick use of Naval Jelly and SC Johnson Paste Wax (which I was only able to buff in, not able to let is sit and melt on due to temperature) as @popdan suggested: Cleaned

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Light cleaning can be done with #0000 steel wool. Naval Jelly can be used if more aggressive cleaning is needed.

SC Johnson paste wax can be used to maintain it.

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    Thanks. Think you meant SC Johnson. Took me a few minutes to figure out something wasn't quite right. – Joshua Dec 30 '15 at 21:26
  • @JoshuaBigbee sorry about that! edited my response. – popdan Dec 30 '15 at 23:02
  • I'll be trying this first, for the record. Haven't forgotten about this. I will select an answer as "correct" as I try them, in order. – Joshua Jan 11 '16 at 18:04
  • Updated with a photo after using your suggestion. Much better! Obviously has scratches and use, but its much better and the plywood glided over it so easily afterward too! – Joshua Jan 25 '16 at 18:41
  • Looks great! The wax really does make a huge difference. It'll slowly wear off and need reapplied. I'm surprised every time I apply it how much of a difference it makes. – popdan Jan 25 '16 at 18:57
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How can I safely clean and restore the surface?

If the cleaner that was used has chemically altered the surface of the top, there's not much you can do aside from remove the discolored areas. Unfortunately, you set yourself up for an uneven top if you to that, so I'd advise against it. If it's just a cosmetic blemish, I'd leave it alone.

Otherwise, if it's just some surface gunk or spot rust, scrub it with some steel wool or a Scotch-Brite pad and a light oil (mineral oil, 3-in-one, etc.). That should get rid of most of the gunk. If that doesn't do it, you might try some other solvent, like lacquer thinner or mineral spirits.

How can I maintain it?

Most table saw manufacturers recommend periodic coating with a rust preventative on the table top. For most casual woodworkers, this amounts to putting a coat of paste wax on every couple weeks or so. The paste wax has the added benefit that it helps the wood slide easier during cuts. This website recommends Renaissance Wax, which will actually polish your table top over time and make it even smoother.

Otherwise, there are some other rust preventatives you can buy. Boeshield T-9 is probably one of the more popular ones now, and I can attest that it works. There are various other aftermarket solutions like this if you look at a Rockler or Woodcraft store, so feel free to check those out.


Remember, rust is like cancer. Stop its spread quick, otherwise it'll keep getting worse.

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Unfortunately, someone got a bit overzealous and thought it would be a good idea to use a chemical rust remover.

Just for the record, that wasn't really over-zealous. It's perfectly OK to use a chemical rust remover as and when needed to treat rust on any woodworking tool, as long as you follow this with appropriate post-cleaning treatment. That's all that was missing in this case.

it also seems to have damaged the surface. Perhaps there was a coating it removed. Now it is discolored, streaky, spotty, and seems to rust easier.

Yes I think it's likely it partly removed the factory-applied protective coating (which could have been as simple as a spray of mineral oil) leaving parts of the surface exposed to moisture in the air.

How can I safely clean and restore the surface?

I'm not sure I want to promote them given how much the retail price has climbed in recent years* but I've read many extremely favourable reports on the Sandflex blocks for this kind of thing. Where steel wool or Scotch-Brite isn't quite up to the task the medium and/or fine versions of Sandflex will do everything you could ask for apparently.

Sandflex block at work

*Not sure how the shipping will work out but the prices here on Klingspor's own Woodworking Shop are very good currently.

How can I maintain it?

The two main ways to prevent rusting on exposed steel and iron are oil and wax. Virtually all commercial rust preventatives are based on one or both of these, including the much-vaunted Boeshield T-9.

I'm much more of a fan of wax myself as you can apply it and leave more of it in place as a protective coating while the tool remains functional. Imagine using your table saw if the bed was oily.... ugh. But with a buffed waxed surface it's great, actually better than if untreated.

I would strongly recommend you don't buy Renaissance Wax for this, it's ridiculously overpriced for what it is and doesn't work any better than much cheaper alternatives, including the Johnson's paste wax recommended first by popdan.

You can also easily make your own paste wax if that's the sort of thing that appeals to you, see previous Answer.

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I have a 50+ year old Craftsman cast iron table saw that has seen many years of hard use. Probably 3 times in it's life it needed some serious cleaning and surfacing. I started with a large flat block and a whole sheet of Sandpaper for metal, like emery cloth progressing from medium to very fine, to be sure the surface stayed flat. When the entire surface looked uniformly smooth and clean, I heated the entire top evenly until it was hot to the touch. Using fine steel wool, melted bees wax, and a heat gun to keep the wax melted, I rubbed it into the top. An old timer told me the wax will penetrate the surface a little. It repelled rust for many years after that and even the wood was always easier to slide through. Set aside the better part of a day because it takes time, and make sure to heat the entire top evenly to prevent warping. Remember to do the sides of the rip fence too. It looks like your top may have some little pits from rust too. They should not affect anything as they seem small, and the wax may fill them in too.

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