Whether you’re an independent contractor, work for a huge company, or are simply a hobbyist, machine tools are a necessary and important part of your life. From small material hoists to power tools (and everything in between), your machines are what allow you to professionally and successfully do your job. As a result, their care and maintenance are non-negotiable aspects of daily life.
Lathes tend to be included in machine tools: the powerful motor makes it possible to carve intricate details from materials — usually metal or wood — with ease. When it comes to wood lathes, there are certain maintenance procedures that need to be followed with consistency or else buildup could cause significant damage, forcing you to pay for lathe repair at your local machine shop. Let’s take a look at the little things you should be doing every day to maintain your wood lathe.
- Clean out the Morse tapers. The two Morse tapers (head stock and tail stock) should be cleaned out daily. This ensures your drive spur and live center will seat securely and be properly aligned; any debris present will affect this alignment (and therefore your turning) which is extremely important if your work is very small and detailed.
- Smooth down and wax your tool rest. This will keep the edge smooth. Bumpy edges make long cuts on your turning more difficult and inconsistent.
- Wipe it down. The ways (or rails) of your lathe should be wiped down and sprayed with silicon; wax can lead to debris buildup while silicon spray reduces the friction of the banjo and tail stock so they can be easily moved across the lathe.
- Clean the head stock threads. Since this is what holds your faceplates secure, you want to ensure that the fit is snug — it will maintain alignment with the tail stock. You can use an old toothbrush to get rid of any sawdust of debris.
When you properly care for your equipment, whether it’s a wood lathe or a small material hoist, you prolong its life and ensure it’s operating at full power. Since inefficient tools can cost as much time as money to repair, it’s within your best interest to take care of them each and every day.