Rust Repair: Hand Tools | WD-40

Rust Repair: Hand Tools

Rust Repair: Hand Tools

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Rust is a perpetual problem for many metals, especially those exposed to moisture and air. It can weaken metal materials and make them unsightly. Rust also affects the performance of tools and equipment, and can eventually lead to their failure. Fortunately, there are a good number of solutions available to deal with rust, including prevention, removal, and restoration, and the WD-40® Brand is here to help make it happen.

What is rust, anyway?

The electrochemical reaction that occurs when iron or steel interacts with oxygen and water leads to the production of iron oxide -- or rust. This reddish-brown compound forms on the surfaces of metals and happens naturally in the environment, although it can be accelerated by exposure to salt water or other corrosive substances. Some metals, such as stainless steel and aluminum, are resistant to corrosion and do not readily form rust. Many common hand tools used by professionals, DIYers, and people at home are subject to rust, so preventing or removing it is a priority in order to avoid unnecessary replacement.

Why use metals that rust?

Although stainless steel is a popular choice for many tools, there are several reasons why some are not made from this material:

  1. Cost: Stainless steel can be more expensive than other materials, such as carbon steel or aluminum. For some tools, the cost of using stainless steel may not be justified.
  2. Hardness: Stainless steel is a relatively soft material compared to some other metals, such as carbon steel or tungsten. For tools that need to be particularly hard and durable, other materials may be more appropriate.
  3. Magnetic properties: Stainless steel is not magnetic, which can be a disadvantage for some tools. For example, tools that need to be attracted to magnetic surfaces, such as screws or nails, may be better made from a magnetic material like carbon steel.
  4. Weight: Stainless steel is a relatively heavy metal, especially compared to lighter ones like aluminum.

Ultimately, the choice of material depends on the specific requirements and characteristics of the tool and its intended use. Rust prevention is not hard to achieve with good maintenance practices, and human ingenuity provides solutions to keep tools in good shape even in the most extreme conditions.

How is rust harmful?

Rusty tools can cause several issues, including:

  1. Reduced functionality: rust can cause tools to become stiff and difficult to use, making them less effective in performing their intended function.
  2. Increased risk of accidents: tools weakened by rust can be dangerous, as the metals may break, snap or otherwise malfunction while in use.
  3. Shorter lifespan: rust and corrosion cause tools & equipment to deteriorate more quickly, causing a need for more frequent replacements. The result is excess waste, extra expenses, and the perpetuation of poor maintenance practices.

WD-40 Brand Products that Protect:

  • WD-40 Multi-Use Product – the Original WD-40 Formula, this one covers all the bases by providing protection from rust and corrosion with a thin film of lubricant that serves as a shield against the elements. It also helps with removing rust and restoring tools and equipment affected by rust & corrosion.
  • WD-40 Specialist® Gel Lube– this formula is designed for superior protection that resists water and displaces moisture to prevent rust for up to one year.* While not ideal for every hand tool, the thick gel lubricant can stick on vertical surfaces and doesn’t fling from gears, cables, chains and more.
  • WD-40 Specialist Dry Lube – a great choice when you need a protective product that doesn’t make a mess, this formula gives long-lasting corrosion protection that does not attract dirt, dust, or oil and does not leave an oily residue. Especially useful on cutting tools such as saws and other wood-working tools that create sawdust.
  • WD-40 Specialist Corrosion Inhibitor – an anti-rust spray ideal for preventative maintenance and use in extreme environments and those with high humidity. The long-lasting formula protects metal parts by blocking rust and corrosion for up to 1 year outdoors or 2 years indoors. A favorite among car mechanics, and must-have for corrosion protection.

WD-40 Brand Products that Remove Rust:

  • WD-40 Multi-Use Product – not just for protection & maintenance, the Original WD-40 Formula can also be used to prevent rust from forming on metal surfaces. It contains a blend of lubricants, solvents, and corrosion inhibitors that penetrate the surface layers to help loosen and dissolve rust. Sandpaper or a wire brush can then remove it to aid in restoring the affected tools or equipment. For severe rust, multiple repetitions of this process may be needed.
  • WD-40 Specialist Rust Remover Soak – this product uses a non-caustic chemical process to quickly dissolve rust and restore tools, equipment, and surfaces to bare metal without the need for abrasive action or “elbow grease.” The formula has no toxic fumes or skin irritants, does not use acids, and is safe to use on most metals. Light rust can be removed in 30 minutes to 3 hours and for heavier jobs you can soak the parts overnight. A terrific resource for recovering rusted tools that might otherwise make their way to the junkyard. To see the rust remover soak in action, check out this YouTube video from BleepinJeep.

What to do for your tools:

Whether hand tools are part of your everyday life or an every now-and-then means to an end, taking care of tools and equipment is a sound practice carry forward. Prevention is your first line of defense, and the best solution to rusty tools is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Store tools in a dry and cool place, wipe them clean after use, and apply a coat of oil or rust inhibitor such as WD-40 Multi-Use Product. If rust has already developed on your tools, remove it using the Original WD-40 Formula with a wire brush or sandpaper, or turn to WD-40 Specialist Rust Remover Soak for tougher jobs. Once the rust has been removed, apply a lubricant layer to prevent future rust and keep the tool working smoothly. If all else fails and the tool is beyond repair, consider replacement as a last option.


Pro Tip: If you invest in higher-quality tools you may save yourself from future purchases, especially once you’ve built in those good maintenance habits. Store your tools in an appropriate place and lightly coat them using the area spray feature on WD-40 Smart Straw®.

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WD-40® Smart Straw®

WD-40® Smart Straw®

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WD-40 Specialist® Gel Lube

WD-40 Specialist® Gel Lube

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WD-40® Smart Straw®

WD-40® Smart Straw®

WD-40 Multi-Use Product protects metal from rust and corrosion, penetrates stuck parts, displaces moisture and lubricates almost anything.



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