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I have quite humid workshop and I would like to protect some smaller tools like chisels and hand planes without waxing/oiling them.

There are some waterproof toolboxes(for example https://www.screwfix.com/p/stanley-fatmax-28-waterproof-tool-box/53892). Do these prevent all moisture from getting in or does it only protect from some accidental spills/rain etc?

My idea is to throw in the tools together with some silica packs and after few months of storage opening the toolbox, finding the tools in pristine condition. Will it work or will I be disappointed?

  • Instead of silica packets I'd recommend using loose "indicating" silica gel desiccant. It starts blue and turns pink as it absorbs water. That way you can tell when you need to replace it. Also, when it is loose you can throw it in the oven on low and re-dry it to use again. I use small jars with holes in the lids. – SaSSafraS1232 Jun 27 at 22:18
  • Even if the waterproof toolbox you choose doesn't have a 100% seal this should work, because this can work with wooden toolboxes and of course they're not the least bit airtight. But it's not really a long-term solution. What's the issue with waxing? Is it having to reapply periodically or something else? – Graphus Jun 28 at 7:20
  • There's a product for this! zerustproducts.com/products/product-category/… I have some of the plastic tabs, but I can't say I've paid much attention to them as of yet. – Puddles Jul 17 at 19:28
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If a toolbox is waterproof, it is generally also air tight, which would prevent water vapor from entering the box once it is sealed. The water vapor already in the box could cause rust, so that is where the silica packets come in. They will remove the moisture from the air. If the box isn't fairly air tight, that dry air will be replaced with moist air until the packets can no longer absorb the moisture, at which point the tools will start to rust.

So, with the sealed box, and a sufficient amount of the silica, it should prevent rusting during storage. A light coating of light machine oil wiped clean followed by paste wax or a product such as Protec Tool Wax or TopCote® table and tool surface sealant works well also. Avoid silicon based products on hand tools as they can cause issues with the finish on your work piece.

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As LeeG mentioned in his answer even if the toolbox is air tight, moisture is going to get in it when you open it and there may be moisture on your tools when you put them away. Silica packets may reduce the moisture within the box enough but depending on the humidity levels and how often you are opening the box they may become quickly overwhelmed and become a headache to replace.

I recommend coating your tools with shellac. It's a natural finish that can be applied to virtually any surface and will provide protection from rust. It's easy to wipe on but you can also get it in spray cans if you prefer.

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Yes, you should be able to open the tool box and get your tools out in the same condition you put them in. Silica packets are probably overkill, but they won't hurt.

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