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Condensation in metal tool cabinet

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Mark A

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I store my power tools and planes in a large metal cabinet (very similar to this but was free!) however, with the recent cold weather everything gets soaked with condensation. I've tried wrapping them up in bubblewrap (I store them in their cases) but that didn't do a thing.

I don't have permanent power in my shed so I can't wire in some light bulbs or other heat source, but could be a possibility if it solves the problem quickly. Or I guess I could more effectively insulate the cabinet, which leads to my next question... what type of insulation would be best, bearing in mind that it's a tight squeeze in there now and I'm on a tight budget?

Cheers,
Mark
 

Chems

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What about a load of silca gel packets, I've seen others use them:


If its good enough for Wakas extensive collection of fine tools!

What I found worked really well for my car when all the snow has melted in it over the past few snowy years was to put a bowl of rice in it, soaked up all the moisture.
 

devonwoody

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I read somewhere that if silica gel and steel came together and damp prevailed steel came off the worse and surfaces became pitted?

Is it because the gel becomes overloaded with moisture perhaps?
 

CHJ

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I think you will find the simplest option is to place a low wattage, (9-11watt) long life bulb in the bottom of the cabinet. Make sure any wiring hole is suitably grommeted for insulation of course if the cabinet is all metal construction.
As long as the air inside the cabinet is a couple of degreess above shop ambient the there will be no condensation inside and I think you will find non on the outside either.

If you are worried about mains in the metal cabinet use an old battery charger or small spare power pack to run a couple of 5-7watt 12V car side light bulbs instead.
 

Mark A

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Thanks guys

I'll wire up an external socket if I can find my 900mm drill bits :roll: and put some small light bulbs inside, plus some dehumidifier blocks I've seen in Tesco recently. But wouldn't I still need some form of insulation as well because the cold steel would logically absorb any heat produced by the light bulbs?

Next question: mitre saw and table saw. One's kept on a shelf and the other on a stand. If I were to wrap them in fibreglass insulation would that suffice, or would a polystyrene box built around them with a light build with each be more effective at preventing condensation forming?

Cheers,
Mark
 

CHJ

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As long as the air inside your cabinet is above the shop temp then the tools in there are also going to be above shop air temp and nothing is going to condense on them.
Condensation is only going to occur if the tool metal is below shop air temp.
As too external insulation ? depends on what the cabinet temperature is as a whole, my tools are in wooden or chipboard cupboards so have a measure of insulation built in.

My lathes only have motor warmth and daylight sunlight to raise their temps, draping an old blanket over them when finished work keeps enough heat in the metal to avoid condensation on them during the night hours.
 

Mark A

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The temperature inside the shed is about the same as the outside air (3/64" thick steel walls and roof with no insulation yet) so I suspect the temp. inside the metal cabinet is the same. Over the weekend the condensation on the tools froze to form pretty patterns... :(



Mark
 

CHJ

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mark aspin":5cer0g88 said:
.... Over the weekend the condensation on the tools froze to form pretty patterns... :(
Then at some time, either the days before or maybe just overnight the tools dropped down lower and stayed lower than the subsequently sun warmed surrounding moisture laden air.

If your shop is so poorly insulated then you may well have to go as far as installing a 30/60 watt tubular heater as referred to in a previous post.
Whatever you do just make sure that the tool steel is cocooned somewhere that is warmer than the adjacent air.
 

AndyT

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If the real problem is rust, you could try the VCI Pots that are available at Workshop Heaven - I've not used them myself as I don't have any rust problems, but others on here have said that they are really good and cost-effective.

More info click here.
 

Mark A

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CHJ":2vr4xt57 said:
Whatever you do just make sure that the tool steel is cocooned somewhere that is warmer than the adjacent air.
I've just retuned from B&Q with 2 packs of this which I'll use to clad the inside of the cabinet and build boxes around my table saw and mitre saw. I've had some success last year with some moisture-absorbing blocks (I think they were Polycell?) so I'll get some more tomorrow.

Tonight I built a tent over my tools on my workbench out of bubblewrap and put in a 400w radiator to keep the moisture off. I'll shop around for some greehouse heaters tomorrow.

Thanks for your help!

Mark
 

No skills

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Ref the 'dehumidifier blocks' - are they like a plastic tub with a vented lid and salt granules in them? if so we keep a tiny one in our car, pulls a suprising amount of water out of the air and has lasted well. For a quick fix have you got any large heavy blankets that could be put over the cabinet at the end of the day? might help until you can get some form of heating installed, make sure any heater has thermostatic control.
 

theartfulbodger

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I have a few of them (or similar) bought from ASDO for a quid each. The granules seem to turn to jelly as they absorb water, and the water and ex-granules seem to end up in the lower half of the container, so perhaps not reusable.

Some brands of caravan dehumidifiers are reusable I think, I'll have a quick google.



http://www.towsure.com/category/Dehumid ... Damp_Traps

All the above seem to use salts..and aren't reusable, but I'm sure I've seen some brands that are.
 

No skills

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As above the are sposed to be emptyed and re-filled, the one in the car is doing very well - installed start of november and lots of media still left today. Not a solution for large volumes/areas but pretty cheap for the small spaces.

Not sure 100% what the granules are (used salt as a generalisation), I can find out if you want??
 

Mark A

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I bought a refill pack of Unibond humidity absorbers from B&M for £4.99 today. I've already got one in my tool-tent which is sucking up water nicely, so they must do something. I find that you don't need any special containers for them - I use a plastic jug with a small plantpot wedged in at the top.

In the past I've tried plates of salt (table salt and rock salt) but I find them not very effective, though they can be dried in the microwave and reused afterwards.

Mark
 

Benchwayze

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Mark,

Just put some of those polystyrene tiles, or the sheet polystyrene over the inside surfaces of the carcass and paint it black. If you're worried about fire (Although, I've never heard of those tiles spontaneously combusting.) then use some of that thin match-board instead. Plus a small bulb inside (Not much brighter than a fridge light) will keep your tools cosy and dry.
HTH

:D
 
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