Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ferrous oxide

That's rust to you and me. Cast your mind back - oh gosh, quite a way back, I see - to the acquisition of a set of "round back" dovetail chisels from Ashley Iles. Yes, I know I owe you all a promised review. Sorry, sorry... The creative juices are being channelled in unexpected alternative directions at the mo'. Don't ask.

Anyway, you'll observe that I regarded the leather chisel roll as somewhat surplus to my desires. Have I given this blog the benefit of my leather tool roll rant? No? Well brace yourselves. The only time I've ever, ever had rusting chisel problems is in leather tool rolls. The workshop is dehumidified; chisels left out in a rack 24/7 do not rust. Chisels left in canvas tool rolls do not rust. And yet I can diligently wax and generally protect a chisel, put it in a leather roll, and it rusts virtually before my eyes. It happened to the LNs, and now it's happened to these.

I took extra care in this case, forewarned being forearmed. The blades were waxed. A wad of cotton soaked in camellia oil was put in the bottom of each pocket. The roll was in that, as previously mentioned, dehumidified workshop. Chisels to the left of it have not rusted. Chisels to the right of it have not rusted. But the chisels in the goddamn leather roll have perishing rusted. I am Not Pleased.

I don't know why it's the case; the chemicals used for the tanning, the natural tendency of the leather or whatever. I don't care; I just beg and plead with manufacturers to Stop Providing the Bloody Things! Please!

And talking of rust, I believe I may have gone a whole year without hunting the stuff. Incredible. I could actually be cured...


  1. Trouble is those leather tool rolls look so nice, it must be very tempting to use them. I reckon the cause of the rusting must be something to do with the chemicals used in the tanning process. Damned annoying, whatever the cause.......

    Cheers :-)

    Paul Chapman

  2. There are leather rolls that will not promote rust. There's a lady in Australia that makes them (specifically for carving tools and what not).

    But...I personally think they are too bulky anyway and wouldn't have one. If I need a roll for transporting, I like canvas. I have my bit stock in them, and a spare for taking chisels outta the shop.

    So, aside from thanks for posting again!, how's the review on those chisels coming along? [g]...

    Take care, Mike

  3. Maybe these leather toolrolls make good strops.

    Rant, Strop? I wish I had more whit, I might put them together. Or maybe not. You do the jokes here.


  4. We'll take your word on the matter of a year's freedom from rust-hunting (although I seem to remember you popping into Pennyfarthing Tools at some point this year).

    Not sure it's something to boast about, though!

  5. Indeed it is a cursed phenomenon. I had the very same experience with a LN low angle block plane which I nurtured in it's leather holster. The horror of the realisation lives with me still.

    To think I paid extra for the wretched thing. I can only imagine that there must be an acid in the leather as the plane was bathed in oil. Maybe that the leather wicks away the oil? Blighters might have checked though.

    I have returned to the functional and cheap plastic zip-lock freezer bag, not quite as quaint but an improvement on the cling-filmed chisels!!

    Still feels like I'm parking a Rolls Royce in a barn though.

  6. I have found the same problem but only where the leather touches the steel.
    I now store my chisels on racks and only use the tool rolls to carry sets that I take out of the workshop.
    I have a plastic handled set for knockabout construction use, and I also take my carvers from time to time.

  7. I find tools still rust with camellia oil.


  8. I didn't know that leather was supposed to prevent rust?????!!! My understanding of leather roles was to protect the sharp edges from being damaged when not in use and when being mover around. If anything, the leather would provide a breeding ground for rust as it prevents air circulation and prevents any moisture left on the blade from drying.

  9. I believe that the tendency of leather to cause rust and other corrosion is well known in the pistol and fine knife communities, and the established advice is never to store a pistol or knife in its holster or sheath. Leather cases are good in immediate use, but not for storage. For years I have fumed about the magazine articles that show silverware drawers carefully lined with leather, about the worst lining you could choose.

    Its more than just the leather, though. Once a tool rusts in its sheath, there will be a spot of rust on the inside of the sheath; and this spot will encourage new rust on the same spot on the tool. Once a tool rusts in its sheath you are better off throwing the sheath away. In consequence, I now make tool and knife sheaths of two-ply all-cotton museum board (topgrade picture framing cardboard) folded together and tacked lightly with masking tape. They only take a minute or two to make, and they are easy to throw away if needs be.


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