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The TopSaverTM System is effective, easy to use and goes a very long way.
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The TopSaverTM System

High-tech, economical metal cleaning and conditioning

Text & Photos by Tom Hintz

   Caring for the metal tabletops on our woodworking tools has become something of a black art. The number of ideas on how to handle this task is endless but nearly all involve lots of elbow grease followed by the application of some kind of wax. While many of these techniques do work, they seldom work for long.

   In many cases, the wax used to protect the surface and make it slippery can create a significant problem. Most waxes were designed for other uses and may contain silicone or Teflon compounds that can transfer to wood. When this happens, applying a finish can be very difficult.

   I have long been an advocate of Johnson's Paste Wax, designed for polishing floors. Thought it works reasonably well, finding it can be difficult. As exposed (real) wooden floors decline in popularity so does the number of stores carrying the wax to polish them.

After spraying TopSaverTM onto the surface, the instructions say to "massage" it in. I found that light pressure on the abrasive pad is all that is needed as TopSaverTM really does dissolve the rust and corrosion.
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   Another problem with many home-brewed metal-cleaning procedures is they often required two, three or more different materials, one to clean the metal, another to protect it and sometimes a third to make it slick. Today we have alternatives in the form of purpose-designed products that fill these needs, made possible by modern chemistry.

All-In-One Product

   The TopSaverTM System (Empire Manufacturing) reviewed here is a single product that claims to remove rust and corrosion from the metal surface down to the pores, inhibit their return, seal the metal (including the pores) and lubricate the surface. It also claims to repel dust and moisture.

   Whenever I see such lofty claims, my BS sensors go on high alert. To see for myself how well the TopSaverTM System works in the shop I decided to give it a try. The results of this real-world testing showed the BS alert was unnecessary.
   Anyone need a half used can of floor wax?

   Since I am not a chemist and suspect neither are most of you, we will skip the mind-numbing discussion of the chemical properties behind TopSaverTM. The most important question to woodworkers is, "Does it work?" To find out, I used TopSaverTM according to the instructions, in my garage-based shop that is subject to the wild Charlotte, North Carolina variations in humidity and temperature.

Use a cotton shop towel to wipe away the dirty residue and then let dry for about five minutes. Follow that by a quick buffing with a clean shop towel and you are done. I found following this treatment with a fine mist of the TopSaverTM liquid lightly rubbed in with a towel and then buffed out after five minutes leaves a very clean, slick surface.
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The TopSaverTM System

   Though the TopSaverTM liquid is available separately in 8 oz and 1 gallon bulk containers, the TopSaverTM System used for this test comes packaged with everything needed to apply it according to the directions.

   The TopSaverTM System box contains an 8 oz bottle of the liquid, a pump spray attachment, a pair of disposable protective gloves, two abrasive pads (coarse and fine) and four shop towels. All of the components are available separately but I think buying the "System" the first time is a good way to see how this product works and what is needed to apply it correctly. Also, the cost-per-use is ridiculously small as described later in this story.

In the Shop

   I chose my five-year-old Jet contractor saw for the first test subject mainly because a family emergency nearly a month ago forced me to unplug everything and leave town. The last time the saw was used temperatures were in the 90's and a couple drops of sweat had splattered on the cast iron, going unnoticed until I returned over three weeks later. During that span, those drops of sweat had turned into ugly looking rust spots.

Even the portions of my cast iron top that did not appear to be corroded showed a marked difference after applying TopSaverTM the first time.
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   The first step in applying the TopSaverTM System is to spray the material onto the surface and rub it in using one of the enclosed abrasive pads. You need not press hard to clean the surface. In fact, the TopSaverTM instructions say to "massage" it in.

   Because the TopSaverTM material evaporates rather quickly as it is rubbed in, I found it easiest to treat sections of the table approximately 1 foot square before moving to another area. I overlapped the cleaning areas slightly.

   After rubbing the TopSaverTM material into the table, I used one of the shop towels to wipe away the residue before letting it dry for about five minutes. A clean shop towel was used to rub that section out, buffing the surface.

   After completing the initial application on the whole table top, I went back and lightly misted the entire surface with a light coat of TopSaverTM, then wiped it in with a clean towel. After allowing it to dry five minutes, I buffed the surface with a clean shop towel. The second application seemed to eliminate a little streaking I had generated with the first application.

   As you can see in the "Before" and "After" photo, the difference was dramatic. The surface treated with TopSaverTM was visibly brighter. In fact, notice the difference in the "Before" and "After" shots of the rust spot elsewhere in this story. The "After" shot is noticeably brighter despite being taken from the same position, using the identical exposure settings used to take the "Before" version.

(Top) This rust spot, a drop of sweat I failed to notice after the last use of the saw, worried me as it had nearly a month to eat into the cast iron surface.
(Bottom) After one treatment with TopSaverTM the rust spot is all but invisible. There remains a small amount of pitting but it is difficult to feel and even harder to see.
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   Impressed with the results of applying TopSaverTM, I went around the shop and applied it to the remaining metal tables and the cast iron bed of my lathe. All of them showed the same improvement as the table saw.

   My jointer has aluminum tables so I treated that as well with the only difference being the use of the fine abrasive pad. When done, the jointer also sported brighter tables.

   The surface left by the TopSaverTM System is not actually shiny, but it is brighter, slick and has a noticeable sheen to it. I suspect the degree of shine TopSaverTM produces is directly related to how shiny the metal is to start with.

Conclusions

   After applying the TopSaverTM System to all appropriate tables in my shop, I have to say it works at least as well as advertised. The TopSaverTM liquid really does dissolve rust and appears to prevent its return exceptionally well. The surface TopSaverTM creates is very slick and seems to stay that way longer than wax.

   While the $19.99 price tag for the TopSaverTM System kit may sound a little steep, it is important to remember that it goes a very long way. I treated my table saw, lathe, bandsaw, drill press and jointer tables according to the instructions and then gave them all a light second coat. The 8 oz bottle looks nearly as full as it was before starting. The actual cost-per-use is very small.

   It should be noted that rust actually eats away the metal. TopSaverTM does a very good job of getting rid of the rust but does not magically replace the metal. Some amount of pitting will remain. However, on my table saw, after applying the TopSaverTM System as described above, the pitting that remained is difficult to see or feel and has no effect on the wood sliding over it.

   The TopSaverTM System is a bit of modern technology that should be seriously considered for protecting your machinery investment. TopSaverTM does an exceptional job, is easy to apply and is very economical to use.

   Since testing the TopSaverTM System, paste wax will be applied only to wood in the NewWoodworker.com shop. For protecting metal surfaces, the TopSaverTM System is the only product on the shelf.

   Visit the Empire Mfg. web site for more information on TopSaverTM and their other products.

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