We call it “WD-40”. Originally, it was called “Water Displacement, 40th formula”, and it was developed 1953 by Dr. Norm Larsen, founder of the Rocket Chemical Company, attempting to create a formula to prevent corrosion in nuclear missiles, by displacing the standing water that causes it.
It’s really quite an amazingly diverse product, and it can be a heck of a good tool in the shop too. I thought I’d share what this cheap can of lubricant can do for you in the shop.
• Lubricate and Protect. This is, of course, it’s main function. There’s usually a good amount of cast iron in every shop, and if you get water on it, even for several minutes, it can leave a rust stain. Spray WD-40 on cast iron regularly not only to displace moisture (it’s in the name!) but to also lubricate – as in joiner beds and fences and table saw tops. You won’t believe how much easier (and safer) it is to push a piece of stock through a jointer once you’ve lubricated it with WD-40 by spraying some on the bed and fence, and wiping it off with a paper towel. Try it. You have to do it fairly often, but it’s worth it, believe me. And no, it’s not going to stain or otherwise interfere with a finish on your wood – that comes from me, and a test by Fine Woodworking.
• Removing glue. I haven’t tried this yet, but supposedly you can clean dried glue from virtually any hard surface with ease: Simply spray WD-40 onto the spot, wait at least 30 seconds, and wipe clean with a damp cloth.
• Degreasing your hands. When you’re done working on the car and your hands are greasy and blackened with grime, use WD-40 to help get them clean. Spray a small amount of WD-40 into your hands and rub them together for a few seconds, then wipe with a paper towel and wash with soap and water. The grease and grime will wash right off.
• Lubricating, part 2: Try WD-40 on the end of a screw you are about to drive to make it easier to turn; coat on files or rasps to keep sawdust from building up; spray onto drill and forstner bit flutes so wood doesn’t build up in them.
I’m guessing there are many more – if you know of any more uses of WD-40 in the shop, please let me know and I’ll it here!