Ask WWGOA: Removing Rust from Cast Iron

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How do you remove rust from a cast iron surface?

Submitted by William M.


I wet sand the surface using WD 40, JB 80 or other rust remover as a lubricant and 400-grit wet/dry sandpaper wrapped on a block of wood as an abrasive. If there’s LOTS of rust and the removal is painfully slow you can also use a more aggressive Scotch Brite pad. I stick with hand sanding and elbow grease. This process will remove surface rust pretty quickly. Once the sanding is done, remove the residue with mineral spirits. Prevent future rust by sealing the top with wax or a similar tool-specific sealer.

Check out this video that covers the topic: Cleaning a Rusty Table


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11 Responses to “Ask WWGOA: Removing Rust from Cast Iron”

  1. Andre Marcil

    I removed some rust on a planer bench using coke (Yes the soft drink) and it worked perfectly. Give it a trial.

  2. mikevpgood

    Thank you for all the great advice. I recently bought a new Rigid hybrid table saw. In just two days after setup, the top showed rust. I cleaned it and applied paste wax. No more rust in a couple of weeks. However, I’m left wondering about the rest of the cast iron such as the sides and bottom? Also, if the top showed rust so quickly after taking it out of the box, should I worry or is this completely normal?

    • Customer Service

      Hello. What you are seeing is pretty common and it is tough to prevent if the environment is prone to high humidity. The best solution that I have found is to cover with a breathable cover when the machine is not in use. When I was in a high humidity shop I had terrible rust problems, and when I covered my tools with these covers the problem went away:
      Paul-Woodworkers Guild of America

  3. Anjali

    How best to remove crust from a crusty (burnt oil) iron frypan and wok? I wanted to use a steel wire drill attachment to sand it of but feared I may ruin the flat surface. Gouges & depression would be worse as more oil & wood will burn in them.

  4. Lester

    I purchased a new table saw and want to clean and lubricate the cast iron top. What are your recommendations? I would also like to know the name of the dry lubricant that you use.

      • Phi Graf

        Aren’t you overlooking the fact that WD40 is “Water Displacement” and wax simply seals in moisture? The best product I’ve ever used is the one that is recommended by Woodworkers Guild, and that is the TopSaver kit, which aggressively attacks rust, and leaves a slick, better-than-wax finish. It’s all I use and is available on this website by searching for Top Saver.

  5. James

    Since we are addressing questions not pertaining to the blog theme I also have a question/request. Purchased the multiple DVD set including Woodworking shops and tricks. Frustrating for a beginner that some of the discs have attached PDF with spec but one that has great shop ideas does not. In the disc ‘Shop solutions’ George clues together the feed cabinet plywood using shop made box type holders. Any chance of finding specs for making that? Really would live to add that to my shop. Thanks.

  6. john

    hi well i know this is not the right place to put my question but i have looked all over your sight to try and ask you a question so i guess i will try here.I am new to scroll sawing and waiting for my first scroll saw.I am going to buy it from sears craftsman is that a good saw saw to learn on .

    • WWGOA Team

      Sorry, but I don’t have experience with recent Craftsman scroll saws. I have a Dewalt and I love it

    • wanderin2

      My first scroll saw was a craftsman and it was OK. Then I went to a woodworking show and had the chance to operate a RBI Hawk and bought it on the spot. It was that much easier to cut with. I am still using it 20+ years later. This is not a commercial for Hawk as there are other high quality saws, but it does make a difference. My wife did not like to use the craftsman as it was hard for her, but she uses the Hawk almost as much as I do. It will cost you more, but will last a lifetime. As with most tools, quality cost more.