Spraying disinfectant on cast iron surfaces

Whoever is doing it, please stop. You are rusting the cast iron finishes that we work hard to keep polished and smooth. And once the surface rusts, the next person to use the tool will not be able to slide their wood easily on the cast iron, which can create a safety hazard as they have to push harder to get their board through the cutter. (Note: Talcum powder is not the solution.)

Your wood is the only thing that should be touching the cast iron anyway, not your fingers or hands. You can spray the disinfectant on a rag and wipe down the knobs and switches that you touch, but please do not spray disinfectant on the cast iron, and don’t wipe down the cast iron with anything water based. Clean up with a brush when done.

This surface was a mirror a few days ago.


I agree completely. This is also an issue in the machine shop, per a separate thread, and possibly metal shop. There are some general Covid rules/guidelines/best practices in place but they apply to high touch surfaces/objects for the most part. As @bbchops points out, you shouldn’t be glomming your hands all over the cast iron surfaces, in general. And as @dryad2b pointed out in a separate thread, the best way to solve that issue is just to wash your hands well directly before and directly after using tools in these areas.

@mrjimmy (since you published the ruleset, or to whom it may concern), do you see any issues with this, i.e. cast iron and rust-able surfaces can be addressed per the above?

I think @hon1nbo had some specific cleaners recommendations, but in general I think @dryad2b is right, if you use those tools just be sure to wash your hands before and after.

so in Metal we recommended alcohol cleaners, but this has another problem in that water can be drawn in afterward. The primary concern was that chlorinated compounds as often present in other disinfectancts produce worse results under heat than they do in circumstances like woodshop.

For cast surfaces an oil rub is ideal after any cleaning.


There are a few cat can oil rubs in woodshop.

I would suggest not using any spray disinfectant in the wood shop. People just need to learn to wash their hands…


The problem with “oil rub” in the woodshop is that, unlike the metal shop, the oil might stain the next user’s wood if it is not thoroughly wiped off. I think most members would know to wipe things down well enough, but some–probably the same folks that spray disinfectant on cast iron and leave it there–won’t. Personally, I would prefer that they simply leave it alone and not do anything, but I defer to the powers that be on this.


And I will posit:
Be certain to be loud about this in places other than Talk, this will only reach a subset of woodshoppers. At the very least, in- shop signage, word of mouth, etc.


When the new board steps into place I would like to examine changing the rules for cleaning surfaces on machines in the woodshop.

I’ve been hesitant to make an official statement on this because these are rules that the space put into place in order to open up post-covid.

Until we can make sure it’s not stepping on our ability to remain open, I don’t want to make any official ruling.


Committees can form the rules for their areas, including what to do for cleaning their specific equipment. We just have to make sure it’s posted clear enough and update the online docs


I thought the previous rules were formed by a discussion between chairs and the board, run through someone who was involved in a hospital effort?

Chairs formed items specific to their committees, and feedback came in if something was untenable.

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just 2 cents, but I’m quite surprised that some sort of paste wax isn’t used on the machine bed surfaces. it makes metal and wood slide better and would provide some moister barrier against the disinfectants. I’ve used MinWax Paste Wax on my lathe, planer, and jointer as part of my maintenance for over 20 years. Cheers!


Nick, we’ve tried both paste wax and CRC. Nothing seems to last. After I cleaned up 5 of the machines and waxed everything down, all five were coated in rust (and one in talcum powder) within days. @rlisbona polished them to a beautiful high gloss and within days someone had sprayed them down with disinfectant and let it sit and they rusted up again. Some time in between our two efforts the roof sprang a leak over the router table and I came in to find a water pooled up on the cast iron surface and rust forming. Shortly after that the air conditioner went out causing the humidity level in the woodshop to skyrocket and we had rust all over everything except the table saws. Every time we think we’re making progress, someone comes in with a spray bottle of disinfectant and proves otherwise. It has all been a bit maddening, but I think we can get past it if we can just stop spraying the cast iron down with disinfectant.

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I’ll make sure the board is ok with discontinuing sanitization of the machines and then put together some signage and put it up.

I’ve heard lots of different sides on what to use to maintenance the cast iron. I know at one point the shop was using exclusively paste wax. Then they went to talcum. Sounds like recently we’ve done a mix.

This should be part of our discussion this month as we go about setting maintenance standards. What do the manuals recommend? Why did the shop change? Where’s the opinion vs science vs tradition?

Let’s hash that out so we can set some standards.

Can anyone offer some historical insight into this?

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It’s not just chemicals that destroy Coronavirus, heat and UV-C light will kill it too, and not rust the cast iron surface.

I just did a quick search for “UV C sterilizer”, it hasn’t been vetted, but you get the idea.

Do understand that those things come with their own set of risks. (Edit)UVA does a lot of skin damage and cornea damage, as well as usually creating a fair bit of ozone.

To expand, the effective germicidal UV units are UVA, which is most damaging to skin and eyes. However far too many of the LED products sold as UVA are actually UVC, which is much less dangerous, but pretty much useless for germicidal purposes. The arc lamp ones are most likely to be true UVA, and effective. Too much multitasking and specified the wrong subset of UV spectrum the first pass.

Hopefully, you won’t stare into the bug light. It’s best to point it down at the cast iron, and not into your face.

Also, wrong wavelength.

Didn’t Machine Shop get a UV sterilizer for the HAAS cutting solution loop?