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by Steven D. Johnson
Racine, Wisconsin

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Prevent Rust & Corrosion – Easy!

Hot and muggy seems to best describe the last couple of months throughout large swaths of the country. While rust is a year-round enemy, this kind of weather encourages its all-out assault. We wax, oil, clean, wax and oil again; and still, the siege continues. Hand planes, at least in the Down to Earth Workshop, seem particularly vulnerable.

Taking care of our sizeable investment in tools is critical, so when I read about Zerust NoRust Non-Slip Drawer Liner , it seemed worth a try.

Zerust looks like any other commercial kitchen shelf liner, but for the color, which is probably attributable to the impregnated chemicals that inhibit rust formation. Zerust is intended for use in closed spaces so that the invisible emitted gas can do its job, and so it will last longer. Cutting pieces to fit my hand plane storage cabinet from the 12" X 72" roll was easy. Use a pair of scissors or a knife and a straight edge. I placed the Zerust shelf liner on top of the conventional shelf liner already in the cabinet, figuring a little extra padding for the soles of my planes would not hurt.

Before I returned all the planes, irons, and scrapers to the cabinet, I cleaned off any trace of corrosion and liberally applied a coat of Camellia Oil to all the metal surfaces. In the past, this procedure was never quite enough. Little spots and patches of corrosion always began to reappear within days. Since installing the Zerust shelf liner two months ago no spots, no rust patches, no corrosion of any kind has appeared. There are a couple of things you should know, however.

First, the shelf liner is "tacky," for lack of a better word. Be prepared for the shelf liner to stick to your tools, and unless weighted down by adjacent tools, the liner will probably cling to your planes and lift up. In my purpose-built plane cabinet, each hand plane has its own cubbyhole, so there is nothing to hold the shelf liner down. I may try some double-sided taped to resolve this.

Second, when you retrieve a tool stored on Zerust shelf liner, you will notice the waffle-pattern marks of the liner left on your tools. A quick wipe with a soft cloth and the marks quickly and easily disappear. There is no deleterious residue that I can see and the manufacturer claims no ill effects on iron, brass, steel or wood.

One last point to remember is that Zerust emits a colorless, odorless (as far as I can tell), and non-toxic gas, therefore its lifetime must be finite. The literature advises the product will last up to two years, but variable factors undoubtedly include air circulation. The anticipated lifespan is in a "closed environment" (i.e. toolbox, drawer, cabinet, etc.). But, we all know, there is "closed" and then there is "really closed." Most cabinets and toolboxes are not airtight, and are opened and closed frequently. Sometimes, yikes, they are even left standing open for hours at a time! I will probably replace my shelf liner in the Spring each year. The product is inexpensive enough and the tools it is protecting are expensive enough, that I will err to the conservative.

Zerust shelf liner is available from Highland Woodworking and is highly recommended.

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