Grease on tools

Hi there,

I've been buying a few miscellaneous tools - scriber, assorted center and letter/number punches, and an automatic center punch (great fun!). Hardened steel in a number of useful shapes.

Now, they all come covered in thick films of black, gooey, grease, which I presume is to step them going rusty in the warehouse.

Thing is, they stick to my hands, and I get black fingerprints everywhere after touching them, and hard-to-wash-off grease marks on other tools and so on.

Would it be wise to wash the grease off - by soaking in soapy water? Should I then wipe them with a (clean!) oiled rag, spray them with WD40, etc to keep them from rusting in use? The letter/number punches look black anyway; I presume they've had some kind of surface treatment.

How best do I look after them?



Reply to
Alaric B Snell
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The black surface on hardened items is generally from the heat treat process. That won't wash off.

Regards the heavy black grease of which you speak, washing the parts in water is not the way to go. If you do not have any Stoddard solvent, use some mineral spirits (paint thinner) to remove the heavy grease. It is readily soluble. Once clean, you can blow the items off with an air hose, or simply let them dry by placing them on an absorbent surface (like some old newspaper). Once you have them clean, unless you store your tools where they can rust, nothing need be applied to them. That way you can use them without getting your hands and other things dirty. If, on the other hand, you have an unheated area, one that tends towards rusting, you may wish to cover them with something that will prevent rust, but maybe doesn't make everything else dirty. Most everyone will tell you that WD 40 isn't a rust preventative, that is has little value, but my experience tells me that it is better than nothing, and leaves behind what appears to be a very thin film of paraffin. Looks to me like they dissolve said paraffin in a solvent, add an odorant, and that's WD 40.

Don't wash your items with gasoline! Only fools do that.


Reply to
Harold & Susan Vordos

Yep. I was hoping it'd resist further rusting on its own, however.

Ok - I'll give it a try - thanks!

My lovely toys live indoors, with me - and I haven't rusted yet. However, I once hard soldered together some items out of cold rolled iron, put them in a bath of vinegar for a few days to pickle away the scale, and pulled the thing out, rinsed it under the tap, and wiped it dry - I left it in a warm place to fully dry out before painting and when I came back half an hour later it had grown a definite coating of red rust! I was surprised at the speed of it.

The WD40 bottle proclaims that its water-repelling properties make it a good thing to spray into holes in machine tools to keep 'em from rusting

- which is what inspired me to ask. And I've got a lot of it.


Hmmm, wiping the punches with a paper towel to get the outer layer of grease off followed by spraying with WD40 followed by another wipe seems surprisingly effective - leaving a surface that feels slightly super-smooth from the WD40 film, but not grimy looking and not leaving marks on things anymore. Perhaps the WD40 solvent shifts grease too...

*interest piqued* What, does it make 'em highly flammable or something exciting like that? :-)

Thanks, Harold,


Reply to
Alaric B Snell

It generally does. I can only assume that the scale left behind doesn't readily rust, that it is already a form of oxide. There are various states of oxidation. It will rust beneath and slowly flake off, though. Heavy scale, such as on hot rolled steel, does that. That scale itself does not go red, though.

That happens when you get iron surfaces ultra clean, especially when you have water in the equation. I used to work with acids, refining precious metals. Once you have submerged a piece of steel in hydrochloric acid, you can actually see the surface start rusting as you rinse it in tap water. It's almost impossible to prevent some rusting on very clean surfaces.

Absolutely. So long as you use any type of hydrocarbon solvent, other hydrocarbon substances will be reduced by them. There's nothing wrong with using WD 40 to clean things, aside from the cost. You can buy a gallon of mineral spirits for as low as $2, whereas the WD 40 would likely cost $10 for the same amount. No big deal when you're just wetting the corner of a rag, but could prove rather expensive if you're trying to fill a solvent tank. One other thing, the solvent power of mineral spirits may be greater because it does not have anything dissolved within it already.

Nope. It works just fine. It's just that the fumes from gasoline are extremely flammable. How many times have we heard of the fool that had an open container of gasoline, washing parts, only to have the vapors ignited by the water heater, or some other spark source? Seems like about once a year you read about some poor schnook that has done exactly that. Gasoline is a great solvent, but very deadly. Stick with the approved solvents, and do that with care, too. (Most) any of them will burn, but some are very easy to ignite.

My pleasure. Hope some of it is helpful.


Reply to
Harold & Susan Vordos

You really don't want to get water around the tools. That stuff loves to get into cracks that you have cleaned out and start some nice rusting from the inside. Rather get some cheap mineral spirits or kerosene or diesel fuel and clean with that. After that, lube with some motor oil for a cheap protection from rust and enjoy. Items with internal parts like center punches want to be partially disassembled if desired so that the stuff that is inside is also removed. Please note that the solvent can carry a lot of the grease before becoming unusable and if you happen to have a still about, you can then gently warm the solvent and recover it for the next job.

-- There are more Democrats on the Calif. Special Election than Republicans! Go count if you don't believe me! Bob May

Reply to
Bob May

"Harold & Susan Vordos" wrote in news:ADn8b.8565$

And deadly meaning that Gasoline contains Benzene which is a carcinogen. The stories I hear generally end with Leukemia.

Reply to
Dave W

One of the problems with gasoline is that it kills your sense of smell, so after you work with it for a while you are no longer aware of it.

Reply to
Leo Lichtman

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