Lathe maintenance tips

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Dalecamino

Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2008
Messages
13,354
Location
Indianapolis, In.
I assume you are using a wood lathe. The only maintenance I use is paste wax on the bed ways. Bare metal surfaces, can be coated with a thin film of oil to deter rusting. Frequency of these tasks may depend on your location. Humidity will have a greater affect on this. If you use your lathe a lot, take a look at it once a week, or as often as you like. Main thing is your tail stock should slide easily. Paste wax works well for this.
Thanks for reminding me! It's been awhile since I've done this.
 

JimB

Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2008
Messages
4,609
Location
West Henrietta, NY, USA.
As mentioned, clean and wax the lathe bed. If the banjo or tailstock still don’t slide very easily then I remove them and clean the bottom. I also clean the Morse tapers frequently to be sure drive and live centers seat properly. File your tool rest as needed to remove any nicks so tools glide across it easily and put a bit of wax on it. If the quill (tailstock) is stiff when extending it then remove it and clean it out. (Usually all you need to do is extend it all the way then it will slide out. I spray some WD40 in there and wipe it out). Use compressed air to clean off pulleys etc.

How often you do these things will depend on how much you use your lathe and what you turn. When I turn green wood I always clean and wax the bed when I am done. I’ll also wax it before I start turning green wood if I haven't done it in a while to prevent rusting.
 

monophoto

Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2010
Messages
1,570
Location
Saratoga Springs, NY
Fairly simple stuff -
  • clean up the shavings and sawdust
  • use a green scotchbrite to polish the bedways, and then apply wax, WD40, or white lithium grease
  • remove and clean the tailstock ram
  • remove any finish buildup on the tool rest; if necessary, file out any nicks
  • clean and tighten the locking nuts on the banjo and tailstock
  • check belt tension
  • check the condition of turning tools; sharpen as required.
It takes me less than an hour to work through this list. I do it fairly regularly - it's a good way to spend some time in the shop when you don't have an immediate project to complete. And if I'm feeling energetic, or if wife is in a talkative mood requiring that I spend more time in the shop, I will also expand the list to 'tune up' the drill bits that I used on the lathe, especially the forstners.
 

Woodchipper

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Joined
Mar 15, 2017
Messages
3,292
Location
Cleveland, TN
remove any finish buildup on the tool rest; if necessary, file out any nicks
Yes, I need to do this. File or sand and polish! Turned a synthetic blank and the tool was dragging across the tool rest. As a result, I got a lot of ridges that I don't notice until too late to sand out.
 

TonyL

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Joined
Mar 9, 2014
Messages
7,369
Location
Alpharetta, GA 30004
I do what the guys above do; I also tighten or re-secure the set screws (with blue loctite) on all of the pulleys and hand wheels.
 
Joined
Dec 22, 2017
Messages
1,490
Location
Wolf Creek Montana
My large lathe is probably close to 35 years old and is an import I got from Sears, I think. The bearings on the motor at times start to get a bit noisy so I hit them with a spray lubricant that I get from Napa. Cures the noise for some time. I also vacuum out all the little areas you normally don't see unless you take stuff apart. Once I've vacuumed everything out I use compressed air to blow it all out (wear a dust mask). I constantly check my belt for wear, I've never had to change it thankfully. My bed is actually a large round tube. It's so dry here that I use nothing on it as it never gets any rust. I probably spend around an hour several times a year to do this. A small investment in time on your equipment can save you a lot of money in the long run. Catch potential problems early before they become big problems.
 

sorcerertd

Member
Joined
Sep 30, 2019
Messages
27
Location
North Carolina, USA
Thanks, guys. Sounds pretty low maintenance. I picked up a used Jet 1015 since I can't afford a new lathe at this point and the first thing I did was clean the hell out of it and put some classic Johnson's paste wax on the bed rails. I'm used to doing that on other tools already, so that's easy enough. It sounds like most of my maintenance time will be sharpening tools.
 
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