Sawdust Soup

Does anyone out there have a suggestion on the best way to remove rust from a tablesaw table?and keep it off? It seems like I read once that steel wool and car wax works well but then I was told that the wax will affect finishing. I live in the northwest where we get a lot of rain.

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I've had no problems using wax on any of my machine table tops including the table saw over several decades of work.
Peter asked me privately what wax I use. I answered his email, but thought I should probably post the answer here, too. I use Butcher's Bowling Alley Wax. I've also used Johnson's Paste Wax in the past. Both are formulated for wood, but they seem to work fine as a dressing on machine tables, too.
Really bad rust will come off with naval jelly and elbow grease. Mild surface rust will come off with any medium grit emery paper. Silicone lubricant in an aerosol spray works great to keep rust off and leaves no residue when wiped dry. Lumber goes through easy, too, so spray the rip fence as well. Once a month seems to work fine. I spray the gears too so sawdust does not build up for smooth operation. Do not use on thermos caps as coffee with have a bitter taste.
Jim, using the silicone spray you have no issues with finishing later? I was always under the impression that it was a good idea to stay away from using silicone where unfinished wood products would come in contact. The reasoning was that the silicone would inhibit regular gluing, staining, and finishing. But I can't say I have personal experience to back up that assertion.
Wiping the excess silicone, then letting it dry is important for areas where wood comes in contact will give you just enough lubricant with out buildup to penetrate surface. I've been doing this for thirty years or so.
I used WD40 and fine grit sandpaper to remove the rust. Used a degreaser to remove the residual WS40 and 3 coats of Johnsons paste wax and a electric buffer for a smooth mirror shine. Depending on the amount of usage, repeat once every 3-4 months.
Naval jelly to get rust off. Paste wax to keep it off. Make sure that the wax does not have silicone. I live in the Philippines the humidity is literally 100 percent 4 months out of the year. It is over 80% the rest of the year. Battling rust is a real problem here. I tried all the fufu spray on products and they are no good. Just a thin layer of wax.
I use pads (sometimes blanket called Scotchbrite) to polish up the tops. Then I wax with a silicon free product. Worst case jobs will require a touch with a fine abrasive (400 or so) and some lube like mineral spirits or WD 40.
There are those who want to maintain a top in a mirror-like state. I think that's a bit much, but I use my tools for work ratther than show.
Don't use the tool tops for a coffee/drink table.
Bill
T-9 by Boeshield works wonders for keeping rust away. check it out
Don't use any kind of wax on your saw table. Most waxes contain silicone and can create havoc on finishes. The only wax that I recomend is S.C. Johnson Paste wax. It comes in a 16oz. can; bright yellow with a red stripe. I never had a problem with it. It protects and gives a measure of safety not letting boards hang up while sawing. Try it, you'll like it!
A good idea where moisture is present is to have good circulation in this area where rusting is forming on your machinery using fans,roof vents etc. Alot of elbow grease sanding from course to fine and then there is a lubercant wax lit that I use on moulders for ease of wood feeding tru the machine.
I would be very reluctent to put any thing on the top that has a silicone base. I would agree with Will Sampson. We use Elemer's Slide-All on table tops as a general purpose lubricant to slide boards across.

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