Saturday, May 9, 2009

Profiles In Usefulness: WD-40

Everyone; well every guy, remembers their dad had some way of always fixing something "their particluar way". My dad's solution to everything was, "Hit it with a little WD-40." Squeaky? WD-40, Stuck? WD-40, Sticky? WD-40...I swear that man may have applied WD-40 to his food...No Flavor? WD-40.

Where my dad was on the right track was in the outright usefulness of WD-40. There are webpages dedicated to the uses of this lubricant and rightfully so. I can almost guarantee that most, if not all, of you out there have a can of this stuff in your garage or toolbox.

It is without a doubt one of the most popular lubrication products on the market. There is a complete history of this product on the companies webpage and it is a fascinating read to say the least. The product came into being in 1953 and was created by Rocket Labs during their attempt to create rust preventative lubricants and solvents.

Does anyone know what the WD in WD-40 stands for WITHOUT cheating? I will tell you at the END of this post to give you some time to ponder the question....

The most obvious use of WD-40 is as a lubricant and rust preventative but according to the website there are over 2,000 documented uses for WD-40...of course, we won't cover them all here but we will go over the most useful and creative for sure.

I personally keep a can in the garage and one in my truck box, and I usually use if for the following purposes:
1.) Cleaning items - especially good at getting the sticky stuff off after you peel off a label or sticker.
2.) Lubrication of items - no brainer here.
3.) Freeing up rusted nuts and bolts - saturate them with WD-40 and walk away for well.
4.) Rust prevention - apply a thin layer to anything metal to prevent rust and corrosion.

Here are just SOME of the uses listed on WD-40's website:
Lubricates wood screw for easier installation
Dissolves butyl caulk
Soften stiff leather sandals
Lubricates rotating coffee shop chair
Loosens strapping tape after a hurricane
Lubricates tire air knobs
Tones down shine of polyurethane
Keeps rubber door weather gaskets soft and pliable
Coat truck bed before installing bed liner to make removal easier
Eases assembly of vinyl fencing
Spray tachometer cables to ensure accurate readings
Spray battery bolts prior to installation for easy removal
Eases installation of rubber exhaust hangers on exhaust systems
Spray inside radiator or fuel lines to slide them on easier during installation
Spray on rubber intake air ducts to ease installation of fuel injected engines
Removes a Boa Constrictor stuck in engine compartment of cars
Helps to insert cables into cable looms
Lubricates rubber wiring grommets to ease installation into fenders/firewalls
Spray on swing blade for smoother cutting
Lubricates chalk guns
Softens rubber O-ring
Spray on rubber hose to make cutting easier
Wipe across heavy laminates to make cutting easier
Separates lamination of plastics
Eases twisting of wire
Eliminates static on volume and tuning control knobs
Lubricates screen channels upon installation of rubber bead
Spray around bottom of garbage cans to prevent animals from getting in
Spray on bathroom mirror to keep it from fogging
Breaks down silicone when coating a toilet or tub
Keeps garbage disposal from seizing after periods of idleness
Unclogs shower heads
Lubricates straight pins for easier sewing of heavy fabric (denim)
Use a full can for a nifty paperweight
Spray old leather shoes and the leather will become soft and pliable
Spray bottoms of chain-link fences that surround gardens to keep rabbits and rodents out
Use full cans for bookends
Helps separate dual layer projection TV screen so that outer screen can be replaced without damaging the inner screen
Lubricates wood screws for easier installation
Frees up hot tar pipes
Spray on the inside of Victaulic pipe clamps for easier application of anti-seize
Lubricates fence stays
Filters dust when sprayed on AC filter
Rehydrates paintbrush bristles
Lubricates metal before running through a roll-former
Use as cutting fluid when drilling copper
Spray rubber gasket for easy installation of window glass
Lubricates fiber optic cable when routing through narrow ducts
Lubricates rotating coffee shop chairs
Conditions synthetic rubber to make slicing easier
Lubricate hose barbs for easy insertion into new synthetic rubber hoses
Lubricates landscaping spikes to make it easier to drive into landscape timbers
Lubricate O-rings when rebuilding oil pumps
Eases assembly of intricate devices when light oil is needed
Lubricates O-rings prior to assembly
Serves as cutting oil
Contractors use bottom of can to draw perfect circles while in the field. Use cap for smaller circles
Use as a parting agent between a surface and a sealant
Works well for dissolving thread lock compound
Helps detect cracks in welds
Removes stiffness from dried out leather gloves
Spray in rubber over-booties to make putting them on easier
Makes Tygon flexible tubing fit over glass tubing with approximately the same diameter
Lubricates and improves electrical contacts on model train tracks
Dissolves glues
Lubricates rubber part of sandals for easy repair (putting plastic back into designated hole)
Lubricates bass drum stands
Spray on watch band to keep it from pulling out your arm hairs
Reduces friction on cardboard box for mini-hockey game
Softens stiff leather sandals
Use in art projects�the way the chemicals and oils react with paint is unique
Use can to prop open windows
Lubricates fingers stuck in hole
Frees stuck hands from narrow bars (stairwells)
Creates pretty rainbow formations when applied to empty aquariums
Helps break-in tough hi-top shoes
Spray on glass bottles before drilling holes (to make lamps)
Spray on poster board and let dry to provides interesting texture/base for art
Spray lightly over stagnant water to keep mosquito eggs from hatching
Softens stiff leather dog collars
Eases application of rubber racquetball racquet grips
Coat rubber ties on boats to keep rubber from drying out
Spray on golf gloves to stop them from drying out
Eases installment of rubber hand grips on home exercise equipment
Helps break in shoe portion on new roller skates
Lubricates paintball gun barrel
Lubricates pip pins used to hold outriggers on boats in upright position
Lubricates inner tubes for faster sledding
Eases installation and removal of tent stakes
Helps break-in baseball mitts
Spray on fingers to make smoother finger-spinning for freestyle Frisbee players
Spray on foosball game parts for easy assembly
Helps break in softball mitts
Helps break in leather gun holsters
Gives bowling balls "less grab" on the lanes
Aids attachment of spars to sail of kites
Lubricates inside of handgrips to ease installation
Rub into hands before touching lures or bait to disguise human scent
Spray on sharpening stone to help sharpen speed skates
Spray onto golf tees to penetrate hard ground areas

When I was a kid and loved to skateboard, WD-40 was the lubricant of choice to keep the wheel bearings clean and lubricated on my board. I also distictly remember saying to myself, "This stuff don't smell half bad!"

Realistically, everyone should have a can of this magical stuff laying around next time you have a problem...

"Hit it with a little WD-40."

By the way the "WD" in WD-40 stands for:

...kinda anti-climatic I know...

...that is all.

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  1. WD 40 is made with fish oil's,so a little spurt on your bait will draw fish like crazy!
    Dean in az

  2. Dean is absolutely right, it works great,spray a bit on yer bait.
    Here in Washington state, they actually passed a law banning the use of WD 40 for fishing.
    Of course, being such a great lubricant, I hose down my reel with it, amazingly enough, some of it gets on the line.
    Heh. Kiss my ass.
    Can't cut open a can of corn to use as an attractant and can't use live bait, either.

  3. Busted:
    We used to have a cabin on a private sandpit lake when I was a kid.We'd punch hole's in a can of corn,toss it in the shallow end,climb into the treehouse and shoot the carp as they swam up!
    Dean in az

  4. WD-40 and duct tape...what would a country boy do without them...?

    I love the stuff!

  5. If you run out of WD-40 and need to get something de-rusted or unstuck you can always use a little coca-cola in a pinch.

  6. Another rusty bolt trick... heat it up with a propane torch,wipe a little beeswax on it,then let it cool. I learned this working at GM for taking out oxygen sensor's,works on anything on the exhuast.
    Dean in az

  7. BTW one note on the Coca Cola also does a nice job of cleaning corrosion off battery terminals.

  8. Coca Cola is also a great diffuser for whiskey.

  9. WD-40, rub a little on your hands, helps with the artheritis.

  10. If you're a heavy user like me, buy it by the gallon and save a lot of money. A spray bottle works just as well as the aerosol can for most applications.

  11. WD 40 can sure fix a lot of stuff.

  12. Also, does anyone know what the 40 stands for? It was the 40 recipe/attempt at makin the stuff to get it right.

  13. WD-40 isn't a lubricant! It's a de-greaser. The reason it works on stuck bolts is that it eats up whatever is causing them to stick.

    If you take something like a bicycle chain and shoot it with WD-40, you can watch the WD-40 actually displace all of the grease on the chain. This will leave you with a nasty metal on metal situation.

    That being said, WD-40 is great. Just know when and when not to use it.

  14. BC,

    The 40 stand for their 40 attempt at creating the product...they apparently were happy with attempt number 40.


    I respectfully disagree, WD-40's website specifically calls it a "Water Displacement" product and specifically lists one of it's uses as a "light lubricant".

  15. flea,

    I can't seem to find much to back up my claims. In fact, google says:

    No results found for "when not to use wd-40".

    The main I thing I know about WD-40 is that since it is a solvent, it can and will remove grease.

  16. I don't disagree with you on your main point BC, I specifically disagree with the "It's not a lubricant" statement.

    I agree with you that in certain circumstances it is not the best choice...but it is a lubricant that can be used for light duty purposes.

    It is also a solvent hence it's ability to penetrate rust and clean "sticky" off.

    Probably not a good idea to lube your bicycle chain or pack bearings :) with WD-40.

  17. WD ranks right up there with Duct Tape as far as usefullness.

  18. if you use it on corroded car locks to free them ,they corrode very fast if not oiled or lubed after. Not a long term luricant

  19. I have a 60 lb dog. I sprayed WD-40 in my palm for like 2 seconds rubbed my hands together and rubbed it deeply into my flea bitten mutt. He hasnt been scratching since. Gives him a lil relief before I take him to the vet. (Today is Sunday). He hasnt had any side effects. I recommend starting off with the LEAST amount possible and DO NOT spray it directly on your dog.

  20. can I dissolve thread-locking compound with it?