Expert Answers: Taming Table Saw Rust

Q. I just bought a used table saw that seems to be in pretty good condition except for some rust on the table. What’s the best way to clean it up, and how do I prevent it from happening again in the future?

—Sherry Anatole, Birmingham, Alabama

A. Senior editor (and author of Taunton’s Complete Illustrated Guide to Tablesaws) Paul Anthony replies:

My saw table cleaning regime begins with a wipe-down using mineral spirits to remove any grime and loose crud. Next, I scrub away rust using the finest abrasive possible that will do the job. For light rust, I use fine steel wool or synthetic abrasive pads, both of which work very well when lubricated with mineral spirits. For heavier rust patches, use the finest possible grit of wet/dry silicon carbide paper, again lubricated with mineral spirits. Follow up with successively finer abrasives to smooth out any heavy scratches caused by coarse paper. After wiping away the mineral spirits, I apply a coat of paste wax. After it hazes, I buff it well with a soft, clean cloth. This approach creates a wonderfully slick feed surface as well as protection against future rust. The treatment lasts a good while, but it’s a good idea to clean the top again and re-wax it every few months. 

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