PRESERVATION OILS, LUBRICANTS, GRINDING AND
SHARPENING STONES, FILES....
One oil does not fit all uses.
Preservative oils are not created equal.
Lubricating oils for machinery generally lack rust proofing qualities.
Shafts on food grinders, choppers, strainers, etc, should be
lubricated with food grade oil, which usually means olive oil, but for
long term storage they should be preserved with rust preventative oil.
WD-40 has some fine uses, but the spray cans are
for tourists. WD-40 is available by the gallon and can be used
with a small hand-pump sprayer much more efficiently than a spray
can. Though, their new
silicone spray lubricant comes with torch technology to help to
remove stuck nails and parts much quicker and deeper than other
The finest rust preventive oil I have ever found is
NAPA brand Chain and Cable Lube (part number "Mac's 1370"). NAPA is a
national chain of auto parts stores, this particular product is unique
to NAPA; other "chain and cable lubes" do not come close in quality,
some being simply a sticky, long polymer goo.
The discovery of the ability of NAPA Chain and
Cable Lube to penetrate into the pores of steel and prevent rust has
been known to loggers for many years. Out here in the rain forests of
southwest Oregon, loggers would often find discarded wire rope,
particularly chokers. The rain and salt spray created by the Pacific
Ocean would render chokers absolutely stiff with rust after a single
year on the ground. These hardy men would clean off the dirt, spray
one side with NAPA Chain and Cable Lube, let the foam dissolve into a
thin oil and penetrate the cable, then after awhile turn the cable
over and spray the other side. Sometimes a second coat was needed, but
often by the end of the day the choker was limp and supple as new.
Use NAPA Chain and Cable Lube on all bare metal to
prevent rust: especially warranted for saws, blades, or any metal
which can rust, and you will have preserved your irreplaceable tools.
Each spray can will cover a multitude of metal, while extra cans held
in reserve should see you in good stead for years.
Sharpening stones come in many variations, shapes,
grades and compositions, making it is hard to describe all of them. I
have Arkansas stones, "mud" stones, "Carborundum" stones of silicon
carbide, aluminum oxide stones, etc., in different sizes and shapes.
Crystrolon and India stones are electric furnace abrasives. Arkansas
stones are made of natural novaculite rock in ultra fine grit. "Queer
Creek" mud stones are made from a high silicone content sandstone. All
have a purpose, so special attention must be taken when considering
the ultimate use of the stone.
In years past, when most knife and edged tools had
a hardness of 48 to 52 on the Rockwell "C" scale, standard Carborundum
stones worked well, and still do for mild steels. Since the advent of
440 C, 154CM, and other hard, tough steels in the early 70's, with a
hardness of 58 to 64 R. "C", harder stones such as aluminum oxide,
give better use.
Arkansas stones are generally used as hones. Once
an edge has already been sharpened on an aluminum oxide stone, it can
be honed or buffed with an Arkansas stone, but that is an extra step
that need not be performed. Arkansas stones made their reputation back
in the days when the only alternative was rough carborundum stones.
Arkansas stones are expensive and relatively fragile, so with the
finer grades of aluminum oxide stones now available, they are no
longer the only stone upon which to depend.
My particular choice as the best all around
sharpening stone is a 2 inch by 8 inch aluminum oxide combination
stone, with course and fine grade compositions on each side. This size
is large enough for virtually any use. I keep a spare stone marked
just for use with hand plane blades.
All sharpening stones should be lubricated while in
use, so the pores can float off and not clog the pores of the stone.
Special honing oil is available, but kerosene works very well as a
lubricant. In an emergency, even water may be used as a lubricant. If
a stone cuts too rapidly, it can be tempered by soaking it in a pan of
hot petroleum jelly, filling the pores of the stone with a thick
lubricant. If the pores have been filled due to improper lubrication,
clean your stone by soaking it in kerosene, then wash off the surface
with a brush soaked in kerosene. This technique can even be used to
reclaim almost worthless old stones that most people would consider
useless or have already discarded!
Hand cranked grinding wheels are extremely handy
for a wide variety of uses, and I wouldn t be without one. They can be
used to sharpen drill bits, put an edge on shovels, grind nicks out of
hatchet blades, etc. I use a medium grit aluminum oxide wheel on my
grinder, and can replace it easily with a fine grit wheel when
necessary. Foot pedal grinding wheels are very rare, but useful.
Back when sharp tools meant having the winter
crops in - a matter of life or death - a pedal powered sandstone
grinder was a real luxury item. Pedal power enabled the
operator to use two hands to hold the tool being sharpened,
making the task quicker and easier. Water is dripped on
the stone for lubrication from a container attached to the
upright rod. The photo at left shows my century old
Many old sandstone grinders are found with a
groove in the middle. That was caused by a water container
shaped like a funnel, pouring water only in the center of the
wheel. I use a triple aquarium air valve fastened to a
sturdy plastic gallon container, as shown at left (tilted back
to photograph better). The sediment in the plastic
container shows the results of decades of use, and the sandstone
wheel is perfectly flat. It works! The valves allow
infinite control of the quantity of water dropped on the
You are going to need metal cutting files.
This is a given. Small triangular files are used to sharpen hand saw
teeth. Mill bastard files (6" and 8") are used to sharpen cross cut
saw teeth, axes, shovels, hoes, etc. When sharpening saws, the correct
offset for the teeth must be maintained. A plier type tool works well
on hand saws, but with the larger teeth of cross cut saws, tapping
with a hammer, then checking against a gauge works best.
Files are made from extremely hard carbon steel
always susceptible to rust. Files need to be used with care. When
using a file, stroke away from you, lift the file, then bring the file
back for another stroke. DO NOT drag the file back over the steel, as
that only serves to dull the teeth and clogging them with debris.
Protect files in storage from rust with a good rust
preventive oil. Before use, and before storage, clean files with a
wire brush and kerosene. Treated with respect, files will last for
CARE OF TOOLS
Treat each tool as if it were the last one you will
ever own. It may come down to that! Storage in a dry, well ventilated
area is mandatory. Obviously, all dirt, grass, etc, should be removed
with a scraper or wire brush, even washing with soap and water if
necessary, then thoroughly dried and oiled before storing away for a
Wooden tool handles should be scraped smooth with a
piece of plate glass, or sanded, then stained and coated with linseed
oil. It can easily take 3 days for linseed oil to soak in and "dry,"
and several coats will be needed; select an area in which to hang the
tools while they are drying. I use Old English walnut stain and
furniture polish as the first coat, then successive coats of linseed
oil. I am pleased to say my tool handles look like finely finished
gunstocks. A smooth, well finished tool handle will not cause blisters
or slivers on your hands during hard use!
There are of course many different ways to store
tools and equipment, this is your decision. One fellow I know grew up
on a farm during the Great Depression, in North Dakota. In the fall,
the job for the boys was to wash off all the disks, plows, harrows,
etc, clean and dry them thoroughly, then take them into a barn or shed
for winter storage. There they were elevated and placed on blocks, any
bearings lubricated, then the entire implement coated with linseed
oil. In the spring, those tools were in perfect operating condition,
ready for use. Tools in use all the time, such as shovels, received a
different treatment. They would fill a 5 gallon bucket with sand,
saturate the sand with used engine oil, then place it in a covered
location. After a shovel was used, it was washed off and the blade
stuck into the oily sand. The next time the tool was used, it was
clean, sharp, and rust free.
It doesn t matter which technique of tool
preservation you use as long as it s effective. The main objective is
to protect and preserve your tools so they will be there to serve you
far into the future.