Cleaning Rust Off a Welding Table and Preventing It from Happening Again
Rust sitting all over your welding table isn’t a good sign!
Rust has been known to eat through the strongest of the metals like steel and reduce them to nothing if not taken care of in time.
Whenever you spot rust on your welding table, you should always be quick to get rid of it to ensure your worktop remains strong and durable for years to come.
This guide will teach you how to completely remove rust from your welding table and how to keep it from attacking your welding table again.
How do you get rust off a metal welding table?
There are a couple of methods recommend for removing rust from metal, depending on how bad the rust looks.
Here, we’ll focus on two main methods below.
Method 1: Using a grinder with a flap disc
This is the most reliable way to remove heavy rust buildup from your welding table. A grinder will help you get most of the rust off the table. You can use a 4-inch grinder for the job, though a 9-inch grinder can get the job done faster.
You’ll also need to arm yourself with a bunch of discs so you don’t get stuck in the middle of the job when the current disc is done. We suggest that you start with a new disc.
You can go straight to using the grinder, or you can start by using a wire cup on the brush to get rid of the looser stuff first.
You don’t need to go crazy with your grinder. Just take it gently over the rust and it will effortlessly knock it off. And during grinding, you should avoid tipping your grinder up on the edge.
After you’re done working on the entire table surface, use paper towels to remove all the dust that came lying on the table.
Lastly, apply a rust remover product such as WD40 to resolve any bits of rust remaining on the surface and let it soak up for a while. Use more paper towels to wipe it down and your table is ready to go again.
Remember to put on your safety gear. The job you’re about to do will produce a hell of dust, so start by putting on a dust mask to ensure you don’t end up inhaling that dust.
You should also put on safety glasses to prevent objects flying knocking off the table from landing into your eyes.
Additional safety gear you need includes an apron and hearing protection as it can get a little noisy.
This method might also take time depending on how bad the rust looks. If your entire table is covered in rust, you’ll have to spend more time running your grinder across the entire surface.
If you’re working on an outdoor welding table that’s pitted due to exposure to rain and snow for long, you’ll take longer to clean off the rust would also take longer.
You’ll also need to be a bit more aggressive with your grinder for this type of rust to ensure it comes off your table.
Method II: Using steel wool or sandpaper or scouring pad
If you’re dealing with some minor rust spots on a small part of your table, simple steel wool will scrub it off. A sandpaper or scouring pad will also work for you.
Sand the table surface with steel wool, putting more pressure on the areas with rust. Rub it in back and forth motion to easily take off the top layer of rust and expose the table metal underneath.
Next, wipe off all the rust you have removed from your table with a rag or paper towel.
Finally, spray WD40 on your entire table surface and wipe it around using paper towels and you’re done.
A wire brush will also work well for removing minor rust from your welding table.
Why do welding tables rust?
Your table is metallic and metals do rust all the time. Steel and cast iron used in most welding tabletops rust easily if it comes into contact with moisture.
If you own a table made from rust-resistant materials such as aluminum or stainless steel welding table, rust might not be an issue for you. That's part of the reason why people choose aluminum even though it is hard to weld aluminum.
What if you have an outdoor welding table? In that case, it has an even higher likelihood of rusting. The table is exposed to all manner of outdoor elements, including rain, snow, etc., and will catch rust easily.
Neglect this table means you’ll have to deal with pitting which takes more time and resources to clean.
How to keep welding table from rusting?
Taking measures to protect your welding table from rust is much easier than cleaning the rust from your table. As the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure.
In this section, we have discussed some great measures you can put in place to keep your table completely rust-free.
Regularly clean your table
Giving your welding table regular cleaning is a simple but effective way to keep it rust-free. You can simply use soap and water to thoroughly clean your tabletop, but make sure you completely dry it afterward so you don’t leave any moisture to encourage rust. You might also consider using acetone to degrease and remove oil from your table.
Limit moisture in your garage
As you already know, moisture is a major culprit in rust formation. If you usually have liquids around your garage, they might be the reason for your rusty table.
Limit moisture in your garage as much as possible.
Leaving stuff such as your leather gloves on your table can also cause condensation which, in turn, forms rust on your table.
Every time you’re done using your table, make a point of cleaning it and leaving it completely dry to minimize the risk of rust.
Finding a way to control humidity in your garage further minimizes moisture and keeps your table rust-free.
Use your table regularly
Your welding table is probably catching rust because it stays for too long without being used. If you get to work on welding projects every now then, you can greatly minimize the chances of the table rusting.
What can you put on a welding table to keep it from rusting?
The market has multiple products that you can rely on to keep your table rust-free. But the most important one is wd-40.
Using a lubricant like WD 40
WD-40 is a multi-purpose product that not only loosens up rust but also protects the table surface from getting rust.
Simply spray the lubricant on your table, making sure you cover the entire surface. Let it soak up for a while and then wipe the table all over.
Lave it overnight to dry (yes, wd40 will take up to 12 hours to dry completely).
When you wake up the next day, your table will be ready for use and will have a film to keep away rust for 3-4 months.
DON’T paint your welding table!
DON’T think about painting your table as a measure to keep off the rust!
Firstly, paint is highly flammable and the sparks and spatter from your weld can cause it to burn. Burning paints produce poisonous gases which if you inhale can take a toll on your health.
The paint will also form an insulating coat that stops you from grounding it. Read our guide on how to ground welding table to know more about this topic.
Your paintwork won’t last a long time. A welding surface encounters the use of grinders, hammer, sharp cutting objects, and metal fabrics. All these will end interfering with your paintwork, cause ugly marks, and make it look odd in the end.
WARNING: Don’t use just any product because someone recommends it on the forums. Welding involves high heat and when the spark and spatter fall on these products you apply to your table, it can produce toxic fumes or even cause a fire (for flammable products). Always research first to ensure you’re getting a completely safe product. And only use quality anti-spatter spray.
A welding table is such a big investment and you should take good care of it to ensure it serves you for a long time and offers you value for your money. Allowing rust work on it will end up weakening it for good. Don’t let this happen. Follow the tips we have just outlined in this guide to completely remove rust whenever you spot it on your table. Make sure you have a good welding table in the first place. Guard your welding table against rust and it will see you through countless welding projects.