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Wouldn't steel wool scratch the surface. Perhaps the Scotch brite stuff would work better.
Not really, just make sure to scrub in the direction the top is machined. WD40+steel wool works very well for me. I also tried Boeshield T-9 as someone here recommended and it worked awesome on the cast iron table of my jointer. You can get it at Sears. Its a little expensive but well worth it. Comes in two bottles, a rust remover and the lubricant/protectant which does a really great job of holding back the rust.
If the rust is really bad, which I have had in a few places but not anymore, I ues 220 grit sand paper on my random orbital sander, then hit it with WD40 and 00 steel wool then finally with 0000 steel wool. Cleaned the oil off the top and put 3 coats of Johnsons Paste Wax on, buffing in between coats. I now have a slick mirror table top to my TS3650 table saw.