Stocking a garage or workshop with high-quality hand tools and capable power tools is a major undertaking. You invest valuable time and spend hundreds of dollars choosing and purchasing the tools that you will use to complete household projects and make emergency repairs. So, taking care of them just makes sense. This post will cover the importance of maintaining a clean and orderly workplace, and the tips it contains could keep your tools working like new for years to come.
Protecting Your Investment
We clean items before putting them away because we want them to be ready for use the next time we need them. Taking care of an unpleasant chore right away instead of putting it off is always smart. It’s an especially good idea in the workshop or garage because a minute or two of cleaning and preventive maintenance can add years to the life of a hand or power tool. Adding this to your routine could really pay dividends because the dirt and grime that builds up on hand tools can dull edges and impede performance. The dust that accumulates inside power tools can cause overheating and operating problems. Tools are usually kept in areas that provide little protection against humidity and extreme temperatures, so they need all the TLC they can get.
How To Clean Tools
You should get into the habit of at least wiping down your tools every time you use them. A few seconds of gentle rubbing with a rag or towel should be enough to remove dust, debris, and grease. Then you will have clean surfaces to check for signs of damage or wear. Once you have wiped your tools down and checked them over, there are a few other cleaning and maintenance tasks that you might want to take care of. These include:
- Sharpening: Some bladed tools require regular attention, but gardening implements like pruners, shears, and shovels require sharpening only every six months or so. To sharpen these tools, use a coarse file to work the edge until you have a 45-degree bevel. You can also use a file to remove nicks or hone dull areas on an already sharp blade. If you really want to make gardening chores a snap, hone the edges of your bladed tools with a sharpening stone.
- Grinding: Repeated striking can cause the metal heads of chisels and wedges to flatten, spread out, and form a lip. If this lip is not removed, it can fly off when you use the tool. This is obviously a serious safety issue, so make sure that you inspect striking tools closely before you put them away. If you see a lip forming near the striking surface, use a file or grinder to remove it.
- Sanding: If your tools have wooden handles, check them for breaks or cracks that could produce splinters. If the wood is damaged or feels rough, use sandpaper to smooth it down. Start by sanding against the grain if the wood is particularly rough, and then sand with the grain to remove the last traces of roughness. Finish the job by applying a thick coat of linseed oil to protect and rejuvenate the wood.
- Looking for rust: Power tools and hand tools with metal components should be inspected carefully for the first signs of corrosion. When rust is spotted early, spraying the affected area with WD-40 should be enough to nip the problem in the bud.
- Lubricating: You can also use a lubricating spray like WD-40 to protect metal and keep tools with moving parts working properly. Spray a fine mist to protect metal components from rust and corrosion, and then remove any excess with a dry rag or towel.
- Throwing out: If you notice damage that could make a tool dangerous to use, you should throw that tool out or arrange to get it repaired. Broken tools can be lethal, so don’t take any chances.
How To Clean Power Tools
Hand tools that have languished undisturbed in garages or basements for years or even decades will probably work just fine, but power tools are a bit more sophisticated. Motors capable of slicing through metal or punching through walls produce a lot of power, and that puts a great deal of strain on their mechanical and electrical components. Power tools that are casually tossed to one side after use rarely last very long, but a little time and effort could change that. If you want your power tools to work when you need them, here are some chores that you should not overlook:
- Deep cleaning: A quick wipe-down may be more than enough to keep a hammer or screwdriver in pristine working condition, but you will have to work a bit harder to keep a modern power tool running. Use a damp cloth to clean out grilles, vents, and other hard-to-reach areas, and use a cotton swab dipped in WD-40 to clean the inside of the intake and exhaust ducts.
- Scott shop towels work even when wet to quickly absorb liquids, oils and grease. These shop towels come with 55 sheets per roll and are great to have by your side when you're changing oil or performing any automotive maintenance.
- Easily absorbs liquids, oils and grease. Ideal for changing oil, refilling fluids and general automotive maintenance.
- Fits on a standard towel holder for convenient dispensing. Towels measure 10 2/5" x 11".
- Shop towels come in a case of 12 rolls with 55 sheets per roll.
- Blowing out dust: The air in the environments where power tools are used is often thick with dust and debris. Dust is sucked into power tools by cooling systems that are designed to prevent electric motors from overheating, and it settles into every nook and cranny. Placing a shop vacuum against vents will remove most of the dust, but you will need a can or two of compressed air if you want to do a really thorough job.
- 5 Gallon Polypropylene Tank
- 3 Peak HP Motor
- 8 Ft. Cord with Cord Wrap
- On-Board Accessory Storage
- Locking Hose
- Inspect power cords: If your power tools plug into the wall, check all cords and plugs for signs of fraying or damage. If you notice any exposed wires, do not use the tool until a professional has examined it and pronounced it safe.
- Check moving parts: After you have disconnected your tool’s power supply, gently tug on any gears, belts, or pulleys you see to make sure they are unimpeded. Add a little lubricant if you feel unexpected resistance or hear some odd noises, and use basic hand tools to tighten up screws, nuts, and bolts.
- Lubricate: A thin film of lubricating spray can keep power tools working and prevent corrosion, but too much can attract dirt and create a whole new set of problems. This is why it is so important to wipe off excess lubricant with a cloth every time you use this product.
- Since 1894 this versatile multi-purpose drip oil has been a trusted tool used by professional tradesmen and do-it-yourselfers
- Lubricates, cleans and protects against rust and corrosion. Offers precise application with no overspray or splatter, and its updated packaging has a fill level indicator strip that shows you when you're running low
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- Marksman Twist Spout makes it easy to use and apply product exactly where you want it
- Replace worn parts: Some power tool parts are standard wear items that must be replaced from time to time. It is best to order replacement parts long before you need them, so check bits, blades, seals, and filters every time you put your power tools away.
- Charge your battery: You want your power tools to be ready to go when you need them, so keep their batteries charged. However, you should not charge batteries to 100% unless you plan to use them immediately. Storing lithium batteries fully charged or fully depleted shortens their lives. Storing them 80% charged appears to be the sweet spot.
- Check everything: You don’t want any unpleasant surprises the next time you use your power tool, so switch it on to make sure it’s running before you put it away.
The Importance of Proper Tool Storage
Keeping your garage or workshop well-organized will prevent you from losing tools. It could also save you a lot of time when you have an emergency repair to complete and you need a tool that you haven’t used in months. Placing your tools in a robust and watertight plastic container will also keep moisture and rust at bay. You should have a separate, smaller box for small tools like screwdrivers and wrenches that you use often, and hang garden tools like rakes and shovels on a wall to keep them off the damp ground.
Many power tools come with plastic cases or vinyl covers, and these items may also be available as accessories. Power tools come in many shapes and sizes, and they often have parts that protrude at odd angles. Cases or covers make sure these parts are protected, and they also serve as a highly efficient barrier against dust.
What Should You Use To Clean Hand and Power Tools?
Elbow grease is just about the best hand tool cleaner there is. You may need a few drops of WD-40 to remove corrosion and embedded grime, but keeping hand tools in excellent condition really comes down to effort. When tools are really dirty, and a cleaning agent of some sort is needed, a dish detergent formulated to cut through grease should be more than up to the job.
When people ask about tool cleaners, what they really want to know about are usually rust removers. The best way to deal with corrosion is to prevent it from forming, but there are steps that you can take if the orange blight has already taken root. Here’s how to tackle rust:
- Spray: Before you get started, spray the corroded area with WD-40. This will penetrate the corrosion and begin to dissolve the rust.
- Ideal for metal-to-metal applications that require heavy-duty lubrication and protection against rust and corrosion
- Sprays on evenly as a liquid and sets dry with a thick, protective coating that won't run off. Safe from 0° F to 300° F for unbeatable protection
- Perfect for auto hinges, gears, sprockets, latches, door tracks, pulleys, cables, and more
- Excellent for lubricating equipment before placing in storage, and is 50-state VOC compliant
- WD-40 Brand believes in creating high-quality products that will not fail in extreme conditions. Professionals rely on WD-40 Specialist to get the job done right
- Brush: Give the WD-40 about 20 minutes to do its work, and then use a wire brush to remove the rust. If there is only a small amount of corrosion, you may be able to tackle it with steel wool.
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- Durable Material: Stainless steel and Brass copper each 6 pieces, strong and durable, can clean rust and detail completely, Hang up hole for convenient storage
- Wide application: welding wire brushes are suitable for cleaning steel parts, machinery, the unfinished metal parts, paint stains, special corrosion without damaging surfaces or fine features
- Clean and degrease: Use a water and dish detergent mixture to clean and degrease the area you have just cleared of corrosion. Rust thrives on moisture, so make sure that you dry the area thoroughly with a clean cloth when you’re done.
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- Protect: Before you put your rust-free tool away, apply a thin film of protecting lubrication to prevent rust from reappearing.
- 11 oz. can
Hand and power tools are designed to cut and punch into some of the toughest materials around, so even cleaning them can be dangerous. Before you take a cloth or cleaning solution to a tool that could cause an injury, check the owner’s manual to make sure you’re following all of the proper safety protocols. If you can’t find your owner’s manual, visit the manufacturer’s website to download a new one. Here are other things you can do to make cleaning tools a bit safer:
- Wear PPE: Wear sturdy gloves when removing corrosion from edged tools, and put on goggles if you use a wire brush to remove lumps of rust.
- Cut the power: Never work on power tools that are plugged in or have their battery packs attached.
- Clear some space: Garages and workshops can be tight and cramped spaces, so you may need to move outside to have room to work. You should clear enough space to allow you to inspect and work on your tools in an organized and methodical way, which normally requires an area at least as large as a dining table.
Maintenance Tips and Buying Insights
If you want to wring everything you can from the money you spend, 360PowerTools has posts like this one that can help you to get the most out of the products you buy. When the time comes to buy new power tools, you can rely on our tool reviews and product roundups to point you in the right direction. We tell you about a tool’s disadvantages as well as its benefits, and we don’t pull our punches.