How To Keep Tools From Rusting?

Good woodworking tools are expensive. Such a big investment in your business and/or hobby requires the utmost care. One of the most important factors in maintaining your tools is preventing rust.

Choosing where to store your tools is one of the biggest factors in preventing them from rusting. They should be kept clean and off the ground, where moisture is often present. As well, if you live in a humid region, you should install a dehumidifier or fan wherever your tools are kept, whether that be in the basement or the garage.

How To Keep Tools From Rusting?

Now that you know storing your tools in a moisture-free area is the key to preventing rust, let’s take a closer look at this is in more detail below. We’ll discuss the best ways to prevent tools from rusting. We’ll also explain how to prevent tools from rusting in a shed. We’ll even review what the best oil is for preventing rust on tools and how to properly apply it.

So, if you’re ready to learn more about keeping woodworking tools from rusting, then let’s get started!

* This article may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. 

What are the Best Ways to Keep Tools from Rusting?

The 5 best ways to keep tools from rusting include the following:

1. Keep Tools Clean

Keeping tools clean and using them frequently is the key to preventing rust. When tools don’t have the chance to sit and collect dust and/or moisture, they are more likely to resist corrosion.

A good practice to uphold, which will go a long way in maintaining your tools, is to give your hardware a quick wipe down with a clean, dry cloth after each use and before storing.

2. Keep Hand Tools and Power Tools Separated

A thin layer of moisture-absorbing sawdust is all it takes for the average metal hand tool to potentially rust. Therefore, keep power tools, which kick-up a lot of dust, far away from your manual tools. If your shop is too small and you just don’t have space out your tools, then you must be extra vigilant in keeping them clean.

3. Control Humidity

Limiting moisture exposure is very important in preventing rust. The area in which your tools are stored (whether it be in the garage or in the basement) should have low humidity and plenty of fresh air circulating about.

Installing a dehumidifier is recommended if you live in a highly humid region. As well, utilizing a ceiling fan along with a few standing oscillating fans is very helpful. And, of course, opening windows while you work is also a good idea.

4. Keep Tools Off the Ground

To properly maintain your tools, you must keep them off the floor. Moisture from the ground will rise and cause your tools to rust, especially if they’re covered with dust. They should be stored in toolboxes on shelves in a well-ventilated area.

Consider putting silica packets into your tool chests or wherever you keep your handheld tools. These little white packets absorb moisture and are easy to use. Just toss a few into your toolbox and voila!

5. Apply a Protective Oil Coating

A very effective way to prevent rust on metal tools is to apply a protective layer, such as an oil coating. A swipe of non-oxidizing mineral oil goes a long way in maintaining your hardware.

Some woodworks will even use motor oil or WD-40 to achieve similar results. However, it’s important to remember that oil attracts dust, so you’ll still need to do your part by occasionally wiping down and/or cleaning your tools.

How do You Keep Tools from Rusting in a Shed?

Since tools are often stored in sheds, there are measures you can take to ensure that they stay rust-free. These include the following:

1. Choose the Right Material

Metal or steel sheds are great for housing tools. Unlike wood, which can warp or rot, metal is very durable and can withstand extreme weather conditions, such as high winds and heavy rains. It’s also fire-proof and won’t go up in flames if struck by lighting! Galvanized steel is the best choice – it not only looks good but will last for decades.

2. Choose the Proper Size

You may not realize it, but the size of the shed is a factor in deterring rust. If the shed is too small and jam-packed with tools, it may be difficult to notice if (and where) rust is starting to take hold.

On the other hand, if the shed is too big, you’re likely not to notice corrosion in places you’re not utilizing for storage. By choosing a shed that’s ‘just right’, you’ll have full access to and awareness of all areas.

3. Choose the Correct Design

Make sure the shed has a solid foundation and is leveled out correctly. A foundation that isn’t balanced (with consistent thickness throughout the base) will result in an unstable, ill-fitting shed. This can allow moisture or rain to seep through, causing corrosion. Therefore, if you can afford it, have a professional build the shed for you or purchase a prefabricated version that can be easily set up or put together.

4. Install Windows or Fans

A properly ventilated shed is the key to warding off the rust. Install windows that open to allow fresh air and sunlight inside. Or, if you prefer not to have windows, installing a few air vents should do the trick.

Adding a ceiling fan (or a few standing fans that oscillate) will also help circulate the air and keep moisture levels from rising. Putting a dehumidifier inside the shed is also a good idea, especially if you live in a highly humid region.

5. Try a Few Tricks

Cat litter, as you know, absorbs liquid so placing an open bag or tray of it inside your shed will also help keep moisture levels down. As well, charcoal briquettes placed strategically throughout can prevent rust from forming.

Even a barrel or pail of leftover sawdust can help absorb moisture. Just be careful with this one, as sawdust could be a potential fire hazard.

Does WD-40 Stop Rust?

WD-40 is great for preventing rust, especially on metal objects such as handheld and power tools. It works well in highly humid regions and can block rust for up to one year outdoors or two years indoors!

Best of all, it’s very easy to use, simply spray on and let dry. Make sure to apply it to clean tools that have to be pre-wiped and free of dust, dirt or grease. Do not spray the handles as this will make the tools slippery and difficult to use.

What is the Best Oil to Prevent Rust on Tools?

Linseed oil is great for cleaning tools and removing rust from metal and stainless steel. Simply apply a thin layer of the oil to rust spots on your handheld tools and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

Scrub the area with a stainless-steel brush, steel wool or sandpaper (or another type of sandpaper alternative). Once the rust is gone, wipe off any residual oil with a clean, dry cloth. Or, to prevent a greasy residue from being left behind, use some warm, soapy water first and then wipe dry thoroughly.

Alternatively, you can try an oil specially made to lubricate, clean, and prevent rust on tools. 3-in-1 Multi-Purpose Oil is one such product. It’s readily available online at at a reasonable price.


To conclude, choosing the proper area to store your tools is important in preventing corrosion. They should always be kept on shelves and off the floor, where ground moisture can cause rust to form.

If you live in a humid region, you should consider installing a dehumidifier or fan wherever your tools are kept. Using linseed oil or WD-40 on tools is also helpful in preventing rust.

Hopefully, this article has been of help to you. Thanks for reading and good luck with your future projects!

Cheers, tools owners!

Hi there! My name is Jack and I write for ToolsOwner. I have a passion for everything related to tools and DIY projects around the house. You often find me in my workshop working on new projects.