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Basic file care question


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Hopefully I put this in the correct sub-forum.

 

I live in NW GA and while we are blessed with 4 actual season, spring and summer can be pretty intense in terms of humidity. My shop is enclosed, but it is not and nor will ever be at the point where I can have climate control.

I am somewhat new to treating files as anything more than an occasional use tool and am still learning. (The horror…. I know) I understand about most basic care at this point (carding, chalking, acid bath sharpening) and in particular not storing them stacked or on a wood surface in a humid shop. However, there is one area I am unclear about:

From my broader reading, I have gotten conflicting information about rust prevention and was hoping for some clarity. On iforgeiron, I have seen multiple brief mentions about lightly oiling files to prevent rusting. On the other hand, I have also seen elsewhere people mention that oiling can lead to files more rapidly clogging while in use.

 

My simple question is whether I should be oiling files after use, and if so what would be a decent product to utilize?

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Mr. P. N. K.,

Using oil for rust prevention for files is the usual method that people use.

Mr. Dragon's suggestion of wrapping them is rust prevention paper is a very good idea.

Let me suggest two other other methods, that are cheaper and less messy than oil.

Biologists,  and especially microscopists , located in tropical climates save their preserved slides from fungus contamination and destruction by storing the slides in 

a closed (sealed) container filled to the top with 100% alcohol.  Fungi and oxygen are thus kept out.

The files will do fine in alcohol and taking them out and wiping them off or evaporate is all you need to use them.

Another method that wood workers use for expensive tools (like planes etc.) is to place them in a closed container with a small amount of camphor placed inside.

The camphor readily evaporated continuously forming a thin film over all surfaces. This thin layer stops oxygen from penetrating it and rusting the steel.

You can buy camphor in many pharmacies.

That is my input,

SLAG.

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Camphor is a great rust inhibitor.  I have a cube of Camphor in every drawer of my wood carving tool cabinet.  An old machinist taught me that trick.  He used it in his tool box to keep his expensive tools pristine.  I always tell my wood carving students about it.

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Thank you all for the quick suggestions! While I have a slab of camphor it is already dedicated towards a partially completed art project. I never knew camphor in an enclosed space was a rust inhibitor, I just really enjoyed the smell of working with that particular species of wood. While I very much like the idea of VCI bags, the immediacy of the issue and the ease of getting denatured alcohol means I'm going the old skool barber route with a couple of tuperware or glass canisters with reasonably tight lids. Though I am probably going to be getting rust inhibitor bags down the road for a number of tools. 

Again, I really do appreciate the diversity of viable ideas and information!

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I didn't realize Camphor blocks were distilled from wood, Thomas.  Learn something new every day.  I have an old wooden Gestner machinists tool box.  It's not made of Camphor.

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WD40 works pretty good for me.  I have some larger plastic ammo can type boxes that have rust inhibitor molded into the plastic.  I have been using them to store carving tools and files. I think the brand is Zerust... boxes by Flambeau.  Similar products may be available too.

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On 6/23/2020 at 1:02 PM, Chris C said:

 

Well, as an experienced woodworker, I k now about distilling woods for their oils.  Just didn't know Camphor was a wood.

My man! You are missing out as a wood worker! It can be absolutely beautifully figured, easy working wood.... AND working it smells AMAZING! I used to help a couple of folks who did custom milling of urban lumber and was lucky to snag a piece. The only reason I'm not taking the suggestion of using a chunk for rust protection in a cabinet is that the only camphor I have left is part of a project I put on hold. (That being said, if you are creating a ton of dust... dust collection and a respirator would probably be a good idea while working camphor)

On 6/23/2020 at 1:09 PM, bigfootnampa said:

WD40 works pretty good for me.  I have some larger plastic ammo can type boxes that have rust inhibitor molded into the plastic.  I have been using them to store carving tools and files. I think the brand is Zerust... boxes by Flambeau.  Similar products may be available too.

You know... that's kinda where I am at the moment, simply because while I have the alcohol I haven't yet had a chance to pick up a couple of air tight containers. I agree with everyone that it makes the files clog up faster, but on the other my files also seem easier to clean as when they have been treated with the WD-40 for rust prevention.....On the whole though I think I would rather use something else for short term rust prevention in between weekly uses.

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Interesting, I suppose that explains why some of Father's tool boxes drawers had wood bottoms. I'll have to look for Camphor. 

I keep files rolled in lightly oiled old T shirt strips, or waxed paper.

Another good desiccant is anhydrous gypsum. Roast a piece of sheet rock in a 230f. oven for about an hour per inch thickness. It works well for keeping closed drawers, boxes, etc. moisture free.

Frosty The Lucky. 

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This has been an interesting thread to follow because this is not an issue in arid and semi-arid climates.  Living in CO and WY I've never had a spontaneous rust problem and I'm sure that Thomas in NM has even less of an issue with atmospheric humidity.  That said, I have had condensation and rust issues when the shop is cold in the winter and after turning the heater on the larger pieces of metal such as the anvil and post vice get wet from condensation because they are heat sinks and can rust from that exposure.  When I do that I try to have an old towel around to wipe things down.  A light coat of oil applied in the fall helps too.

I guess wherever you live is a trade off.  Panik in GA may have problems with humidity causing rust but does not have -30 degree winters.

"By hammer and hand all arts do stand."

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Roasted gypsum == plaster of paris before it's mixed with water.  White Sands National Park here in New Mexico  is 275 sq miles of gypsum dunes. (Best seen on Full Moon nights in the summer when the park is open late.  Daytime temps can be a killer---literally we lose tourists due to heat stroke.)  Anyway one of the methods archaeologists use to locate pre-historic campsites in the area is that their campfires would roast the gypsum sand and then when a thunderstorm sweeps over the water will set the plaster of paris formed. Then the winds will blow away the sand leaving a mushroom shaped outcrop easily seen in surveys.

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I neglected to mention the use of silica gel to keep tools dry and safe from rusting.

It is readably  available from many sources.

Having worked in many medical and research laboratories, the silica gel I am most familiar with has the gel bits colored blue. When it has absorbed a lot of atmospheric water vapor it turns pink. The hydrous pink gel can be renewed by heating it until the color turns to blue again. It can then be recycled,  (reused), for many times.

SLAG.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Keeping your files in heated enclosed box will keep the rust off them.  A light bulb works well for the heat source and helps to see what is in the box ;-)  Also, you should not let the files rub against each other and don't file scale if you can help it.

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