How To Clean Tools
By Damien Andrews
Clean Your Tools Without Harsh Solvents
Clean tools perform better and last longer. In many cases, clean tools are also safer to handle and use. And of course, clean tools look much nicer on the shop wall and in the toolbox. All good reasons to make sure your tools are clean and ready to deliver good service the next time you call on them. Few things are more irritating (and sometimes disastrous) than reaching for a tool you need and finding that it has rusted out or has so much gunk on it that it won't work properly. Here are some tried and true ways to keep your tools clean – without using harsh solvents.
What you will need:
Several pads of steel wool in grades 0 and 0000
A can of WD40
Some sheets of emery cloth in grades 40 (coarse) and 120 (fine)
A small can of 3-IN-ONE oil
A bottle of 409
A small bottle of Goo Gone
A wire brush
A stiff scrub brush
Protective work gloves
Some paper towels
Some shop rags, preferably terrycloth
An air compressor or cans of compressed air
NOTE: use any and all safety equipment necessary when performing any of the following tool cleaning procedures.
How to clean tools that have rust: Use the wire brush to remove heavy or thick rust deposits. To keep rust dust down, lightly spray WD40 on the rusty areas. Next use the 0 grade steel wool or the emery cloth – depending on where the rust is located on the tool – the steel wool will easily conform to unusual shapes. When the rust is gone, spray the tool with WD40 and polish it with the 0000 steel wool. Wipe the tool down with a rag and then spray it with WD40. Allow the WD40 to migrate to all parts of the tool, then wipe off any excess. Lubricate moving parts lightly with 3-IN-ONE oil.
How to clean tools that are oily or greasy: Wipe excess oil and grease off the tool with a paper towel or rag. Spray the affected areas liberally with 409 and use the scrub brush to assist in the cleaning process. Repeat until all the grease and/or oil is gone. Rinse the tool with water and immediately dry with rags and compressed air as needed. Then immediately spray the tool with WD40, ensuring that all metal parts are covered. Allow the tool to sit for a few minutes and then wipe off the excess WD40. Lubricate moving parts lightly with 3-IN-ONE oil.
How to clean tools that are sticky with adhesive: Remove excess adhesive with a paper towel, making sure to pick off the adhesive, not rub it around on the tool. Squirt some Goo Gone onto the affected areas and allow it to soak for a minute or two. Use paper towels to wipe up the Goo Gone and the adhesive. For thick, heavy adhesive deposits, you can use the blade of a flathead screwdriver to assist with the removal. Spray the tool with WD40, ensuring that all metal parts are covered. Allow the tool to sit for a few minutes and then wipe off the excess WD40. Lubricate moving parts lightly with 3-IN-ONE oil.
How to clean tools that have exposed motors: Many tools in the shop have exposed motors. Circular saws, electric drills, band saws, miter saws – the list is all but endless. These motors are designed to withstand the rigors of use in dusty environments, but over time the inner workings of the motors can accumulate too much dust and sawdust and tend to overheat, thus shortening their service life. Make sure the motor you intend to clean is disconnected from electricity. Using compressed air, send jets of air into the tool through any and all vents you can access. Do all of the vents, and then do them all again, and then one more time. Repeating this process ensures that all the dust is loosened and then blown out of the motor housing. If you don't have compressed air, a good shop vacuum can be used for this process.
How to clean tools, electric saw blades: Electric saw blades often become sticky, which diminishes the saw's performance and shortens motor life. Even kiln dried lumber can leave sticky residue on saw blades over time. Disconnect the saw's power supply and carefully remove the cutting blade. Use some Goo Gone and a rag to remove the sticky residue from the saw blade. BE CAREFUL OF THE CUTTING TEETH. Spray WD40 onto the none-cutting areas of the saw blade and use the 0 steel wool to clean and polish. Finish by 'rinsing' the blade with WD40, then wipe off excess and return to service.