Welcome! Forums General Woodworking Discussions Tools and Tool Maintenance/Restoration How often to clean/oil occasionally used planes?


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    Dave C

    I generally only get time to do woodworking at weekends (or once every couple of weekends if things are very hectic…), so my tools often sit unused for quite some time.

    I was wondering how much oiling and cleaning of my plane I should do given that I only use it occasionally?

    Should I take it apart when I’m done, clean all the wood shavings out, and oil every part?

    Or should I just do that every few months? Or something in between?

    I’m mostly worried about preventing rust more than anything else.

    Thomas Angle

    I think this has more to do with the climate where the tools are stored than the useage. My tools are in an unheated/air conditioned garages in middle Tennessee (It gets hot and humid in the summer time here and the winters are pretty mild and some what wet) and I oil them when I sharped them. I clean the dusk and shavings off when done. I really do not have much of a problem with rust when doing that.

    Arbovale, WV

    Proverbs 18:13
    13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

    Richard Guggemos

    I believe strongly in cleaning out shavings for long term storage. No good can come from them.

    As stated above, oil is a function of environmental variables. However, if you’re putting a tool away for long-term storage, a good wax job may provide better protection.

    Hugo Notti

    I believe in cleaning the tools and oiling the metal parts after each “session”. A fine film will do, just wipe everything with an oily cloth or use the rag-in-a-can method.

    Frankly speaking, I don’t always follow my own advise, but I also eventually find rust on my tools. I am living in northern Germany, the humidity here is between 95% and less than 50%. And, what is worse, I have to keep the humidity between 60 and 70% in my workshop, because I have a grand piano there, which makes trouble if it is dryer or wetter.

    This said, it is good practise to maintain all tools you have used at the end of the day. Clean them, look for defects, oil and sharpen the blades. It makes it much easier to take advantage of a bit of spare time, when the tools are ready to use.


    Dave C

    Thanks for the advice, I don’t feel too bad about cleaning/oiling whenever I’m finished for the day (I did worry this was a bit too much, and that I should relax more).


    Hi Dave,
    Natural oily deposits from your hands and also friction from general use will prevent rust forming on your plane soles and saw blades etc. You’re using them every few weeks, that’s quite frequent.
    I wouldn’t worry too much. I’d suggest just having a look every now & then to see how yours react to your particular environment.
    Paul says he oils his a few times a year, as his mentors did, and says he never has a problem with rust.
    When I’m not returning to the workshop for quite a while (leaving tools through the Winter and returning next Spring) I oil them and box them up – keeping my more-valuable treasures in the house during Winter.
    The rust we see on secondhand tools has taken years and years to get to that state. Cleaned-up, sharpened, and oiled, they tend to stay looking good for a very long time.