Stationary Power Tools and Unheated Garages: An Epiphany and A Possible Solution? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 02-13-2020, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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Stationary Power Tools and Unheated Garages: An Epiphany and A Possible Solution?

Was beginning a small project out in the garage a week or so ago. I'd had the propane torpedo heater running until it was livable out there. Took the cover off the table saw and set aside the miter guide and various other jigs I keep stored atop it. Went to quickly wipe it down before getting to work and... "What the heck?!?!" The shop towel didn't want to move across the top very easily. Ran my hand across it. Damp!

That was when, after all these years, the penny finally dropped: Ice cold cast iron + warmed air = condensation on the ice cold iron = rust.

Got to thinking: If I somehow warmed those surfaces before uncovering them, perhaps I could solve much of my table tops' rusting issues.

So I grabbed a small electric space heater we have and that's what I did. I think it worked, because the next time I uncovered the TS and drill press I didn't get that problem. The time after that I detected no surface rust when I wiped them down.

So now I'm experimenting with a small, 500W, space heater. Set on the base of the DP, while it's still covered, with an ambient temperature of 32įF, it gets the table up to "not ice cold" in about 45 minutes. It's now running under the TS to see how long that takes. (Or if it can even do it for the larger, less-totally-covered area.)

The reason for the puny little 500W heater is I presume it probably doesn't get hot enough to create a fire hazard.

If this works I'll probably hunt down the timer I know I have somewhere around here and hook a pair of them up, set to run for an hour before I plan to get out there to do stuff.

I theorize the reason my potential solution should work better than simply uncovering them right away, and just letting the propane heater do it as the entire garage space warms, is the propane heater will warm the air faster than it does those cast iron surfaces.

Obviously I have to be very careful of heater placement and that nothing possibly be allowed come in contact with them while they're running. And that I don't do something stupid, like leave them out there running, get distracted by something else, and forget about them. (Thus the timer.)

"There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey." -- John Ruskin (1819-1900)
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post #2 of 25 Old 02-13-2020, 04:46 PM
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You probably know this but propane heaters introduce a lot of moisture into the room.
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post #3 of 25 Old 02-13-2020, 04:55 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeFromSD View Post
You probably know this but propane heaters introduce a lot of moisture into the room.
Yes, I know. But thanks for pointing it out just the same :)

"There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey." -- John Ruskin (1819-1900)
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post #4 of 25 Old 02-13-2020, 04:59 PM
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You probably know this but propane heaters introduce a lot of moisture into the room.
Was about to say the same thing. I'd wager that the problem you had before wasn't just the heat in the room, it was the heat and added humidity causing the condensation

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post #5 of 25 Old 02-14-2020, 12:19 AM
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Is installing an actual heater in the garage an option? I have a Mr. Heater Big Maxx (converted to propane) in my shop and it does a great job even without any ceiling insulation and only a half inch of wall insulation (I live in Ohio and insulation is in the plans when it fits in the budget). Exhaust is vented outside which removes the moisture concerns of the torpedo type heater and it provides for a clean and comfortable atmosphere. My shop is unheated when not in use and I have experienced no issues in warming it up just while I am working there. I have an 80,000 BTU unit (uses about one gallon of propane an hour while it is running) but have a 30'x40'x10'h pole building workshop, and depending on your garage, you may be good with a 50,000 BTU unit or something similar. One suggestion if you choose to go this route is to use a drywall lift to position and install the heater, they are quite cheap to rent and makes the task much easier.

My personal feeling is that the torpedo style heater will only continue to lead to problems.
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post #6 of 25 Old 02-14-2020, 03:06 AM
where's my table saw?
 
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What about electric blankets?

I started using an electric quilt my son gave me last Christmas to warm my legs while in the recliner. It really works nicely. There are heating pads also, so no open flames or high temperature. there's even a snake or aquarium warmer pad that draws almost zero watts.
https://www.amazon.com/Windspeed-plu...a-869660212526


A single electric blanket draws 60 watts, not bad:
https://homeguides.sfgate.com/much-c...ket-69413.html


An infra red heating lamp draws 250 watts, but it will heat the objects from the ceiling down. They come in white or red light:
https://www.webstaurantstore.com/lav...RoCxO0QAvD_BwE


More powerful infra red heaters:
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Comfort-...E&gclsrc=aw.ds

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 02-14-2020 at 03:08 AM.
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post #7 of 25 Old 02-14-2020, 03:28 AM
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Be careful that your 500 watt heater is not situated where something like a towel can drop onto it. If left long enough, even a 500 watt can start something to burn.

There are garden shed anti frost tube heaters that use very small amounts of electric, so low that you can keep them running almost continuously without any fire risk.

This kind of thing
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Protection-.../dp/B00EZ4X48M

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post #8 of 25 Old 02-14-2020, 06:10 AM
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I think your problem will be solved by not covering your tools.


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post #9 of 25 Old 02-14-2020, 10:37 AM
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The by product of burning propane is WATER.

Gary
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post #10 of 25 Old 02-14-2020, 11:29 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BattleRidge View Post
Is installing an actual heater in the garage an option? I have a Mr. Heater Big Maxx (converted to propane) in my shop ... an 80,000 BTU unit (uses about one gallon of propane an hour while it is running) ...
That's more efficient than my Mr. Heater torpedo unit, which burns about a gallon/hour at 60,000 BTU. Something to consider for that reason, alone.

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Be careful that your 500 watt heater is not situated where something like a towel can drop onto it. If left long enough, even a 500 watt can start something to burn.
I'm making certain of that!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sunnybob View Post
There are garden shed anti frost tube heaters that use very small amounts of electric, so low that you can keep them running almost continuously without any fire risk.
I've thought about looking into that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeC View Post
I think your problem will be solved by not covering your tools.
I guarantee it would not. I've gotten lazy from time-to-time over the years. Leaving untreated cast iron or steel uncovered in that garage will result in rust. Whereas if I keep that stuff covered and occasionally re-treat with Boeshield T-9 I can keep the rust mostly at bay.

The trick is to use a material that's somewhat breathable. Prevents moisture-laden ambient air from settling on the machinery, but doesn't trap moisture inside.

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The by product of burning propane is WATER.
Yes, I know.

But the point is that water is less likely to condense on not-ice-cold surfaces than those that are ice cold. As I noted in my OP: It seems to help.

"There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey." -- John Ruskin (1819-1900)
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post #11 of 25 Old 02-14-2020, 12:11 PM
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water vapour will condense on ANY surface less than 18c (64F). any unprotected iron between 65 and 32f will go rusty.
Its an all or nothing scenario

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post #12 of 25 Old 02-14-2020, 01:37 PM
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My shop is an uninsulated pole building. I also use a propane heater to warm my shop before working. In NW Washington where I live water is common, very common as in the people that live here have webbed feet. I have never covered my equipment and I donít have any rust issues. I regularly use paste wax on all cast surfaces.
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post #13 of 25 Old 02-14-2020, 02:10 PM
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My shop is an uninsulated pole building. I also use a propane heater to warm my shop before working. In NW Washington where I live water is common, very common as in the people that live here have webbed feet. I have never covered my equipment and I donít have any rust issues. I regularly use paste wax on all cast surfaces.

Same here in NW Florida. The paste wax is the key. It is very difficult to assure that any cover is totally permeable. Best to just not use except in temporary uses.
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post #14 of 25 Old 02-14-2020, 08:44 PM
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Don't know your climate, but I also have a 30x40 shop. Pretty well insulated except for the overhead door. After dealing with the rust issue I installed a mini-split heat pump. If you get a decent one they are very efficient. I run mine pretty much 365 as it also has a dehumidifying mode for around $235 a year in electric.
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post #15 of 25 Old 02-14-2020, 10:47 PM
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Semijim - is the garage fully detached, or is there a common wall with the house?

In my case, I have the forced air from the house available at the flick of a grill lever, because I tore out the chimney and was able to run hot air supply ducting thru the resulting gap in the foundation wall. Return air is by opening the door between garage and kitchen (or at least opening the old cat door).

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post #16 of 25 Old 02-15-2020, 08:05 PM
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My garage is only heated when I'm going to be out there. My primary heater is a Monitor kerosene heater, supplemented with 2 electric heaters and sometimes a tank-top propane heater. I don't cover anything and have not had issues with rust. I do paste wax everything cast iron though. Today was a tough day for getting it warm enough to be comfortable... the morning started with an outside temp of -15F.

My wife says I never finish anyth

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post #17 of 25 Old 02-15-2020, 09:47 PM
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Shop off end of garage, fully insulate to R-16 or better, nice old pellet stove,,, no problems.
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post #18 of 25 Old 02-16-2020, 06:52 AM
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I have had many shops that were unheated and rust has never been a problem, but that is not my question.
I see where many people use a wax on the surface of their table saw. I always sprayed lacquer and any kind of wax contact was a definite NO NO. And so I was always afraid to use a wax coating
Is there any special precautions you take or is the layer of wax so thin as to be negligible?

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post #19 of 25 Old 02-16-2020, 07:00 AM
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Just my cents. My shop is located in the back half of a 1200 sq foot unheated and uninsulated southern ohio garage . Been in it for 14+ years. All my cast iron tools are coated with paste wax. They get coated ever every year or so. As a general rule active rust does not exist on the visible parts of my tools. But, once a year, I clean the shop well, and cover the tools with matched sized cardboard and plastic covers when I transform the garage/shop for use as the indoor space used as part of an annual family event. Over the years I deferred removal of the cardboard and plastic by perhaps a month on a couple occasions. Each time I deferred, when I finally removed the covers, I had rust forming on the tools. So I have learned my lesson and now remove the covers immediately afterwords. For me, those covers seem to create just the optimum environment for rust.

Full disclosure. When I built the garage I did something that is more common with houses than garages. I installed a vapor barrier beneath the concrete floor. I did this to lessen the moisture in the shop coming up through the floor. I did this in part based on experiences with unheated garage workshops a prior homes and because some day I hope to condition my shop. It has made a big difference thus far.

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post #20 of 25 Old 02-16-2020, 10:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony B View Post
I have had many shops that were unheated and rust has never been a problem, but that is not my question.
I see where many people use a wax on the surface of their table saw. I always sprayed lacquer and any kind of wax contact was a definite NO NO. And so I was always afraid to use a wax coating
Is there any special precautions you take or is the layer of wax so thin as to be negligible?
I have had no issues using paste wax on my cast surfaces when it comes to finishing. The wax is so thin I doubt much if any is transferred to the material. Even if a little is transferred it is done at the beginning of the build process and is likely removed with future milling and sanding.
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