Last Updated on March 1, 2023 by Charles Wilson
To showcase your craftsmanship as a beginner in turning, having a quality lathe machine is not enough.
One has to go the extra mile to ensure the machine’s quality is maintained to save money, effort, and time.
New turner, here’s everything you need to know!
- Turning is a machining process involving lathes to cut away unwanted materials and shape metal or wood.
- Taking care of a lathe machine includes: reading the manual, periodic inspection, and daily maintenance.
- Following lathe maintenance reduces all kinds of risks, ensures efficiency, and avoids expensive repair jobs in the future.
How to Properly Maintain Your Lathe Machine in 3 Steps
If not properly maintained, your lathe machine could break, the spindle could go blunt, rusts start to build up, and parts could fall off and go missing.
And we all don’t want that.
So, read these maintenance tips and learn how to extend the service life of your lathe machine!
1: Read the User Manual
First things first, read the manual.
Learning to operate the machine is the first step in properly maintaining your lathe machine’s durability and power.
Every manual contains all the fundamental instructions for a product or equipment.
It informs every user of a product’s usage, basic troubleshooting, and possible risks if misused.
Note that there are different types of lathes for turning machines. There is a wood lathe and a metal lathe.
Metal lathe machines are designed to support both wood and metal.
Wood lathe machines, however, are primarily used for wood only.
NOTE: Given the manual and you are still not confident using the machine, don’t hesitate to contact and seek assistance from highly trained operators.
2: Periodic Inspection
The first tip for your lathe machine’s maintenance is a regular inspection.
Regular equipment inspections help reveal irregularities and problems that may not be noticeable.
This ensures the machine tool’s proper functioning and the workplace’s general safety.
If left unchecked, one tool—or even a screw—will likely cause more significant damage to your lathe machine.
3: Regular Maintenance
A periodic inspection and cleaning must always come with regular machine maintenance.
Regular maintenance is a routine that also prevents incidents, injuries, and illnesses.
This includes checking the coolant and oil level, double-checking the driving belts, how often you need to lubricate with oil, or keeping the lathe ways clear from clutter.
These lathe machine clutters could be a tool placed on the lathe board or dust from cast iron or wood chips.
Maintenance also alerts the operators of the wood lathe or metal lathe machine that a repair or replacement is required before the damage worsens and jeopardizes safety.
Lathe Maintenance Checklist
Having to do something on a daily basis can get tiresome to many, but following a checklist is a way to ensure work is done perfectly, safely, and smoothly.
Here’s a comprehensive checklist of things you have to do in your regular lathe maintenance.
Check the Overall Mechanical System
A mechanical system refers to the power and forces coming from the machine.
This includes the components, such as the drive belt, swindle taper, swindle sweep, tool holder, headstock, spindle tapers, lines, hoses, cables, way covers, tool rest, tailstock, etc.
Small parts, which are excessively used, may wear off over time. It is a preventive measure to have these replaced when necessary.
Secure the lathe board whenever you replace some chucks or workpieces in the machine.
Check the fit of the headstock, the coolant levels, and the spindle to ensure the precision of your turning. Adjust them according to what design you need.
Make sure to maintain a sufficient oil level in the system.
Remove Dust, Debris, and Rust That Have Built up in Your Lathe Machine
A buildup of these small—often unnoticeable—things must always be checked.
If left unclean or not removed, these could lead to severe damage to your machine in the long run.
If your banjo or tailstock doesn’t slide well, some dust, debris, or rust might have accumulated.
Or things like fine metal chips or dust from plastic and cast iron (and some chuck or chips in the wood lathe) may have gone deeper into the bearings, causing them to scour the surface and jam the machinery.
These small metal chips on the lathe, such as in the ways or bed rails, banjo, tool rest, and tailstock, can cause rust corrosion in your machine.
An old toothbrush can help in cleaning hard-to-reach areas.
A machine’s lubrication reduces the friction along the metal surfaces.
Clean the fillers first, inspect the lines, and apply the oil lubricant.
Find good quality oil and make oiling or lubrication part of your machine’s daily maintenance.
Adding oil replenishes the machine.
Oil lubrication maintains the machine’s motor, ways, feed screws, and bearings to run smoothly.
Do this before turning the machine’s motor on and refill when needed.
Check the Other Tools Around the Machine
Part of lathe maintenance also includes the proper placement of other machine tools around it.
A good routine does not mean all care or focus must be on the spindle or the drive belt of the machinery only.
Keeping an eye on the other machine tool surrounding your lathe is also important.
Any tools you need for turning works should be placed on a separate table, not on the lathe ways or bed ways.
When tools are being changed, the spindle tapers should be inspected and cleaned with a soft, lint-free cloth.
Always clean your lathe machines after every use.
Most importantly, DON’T FORGET TO TURN IT OFF.
When you plan on storing the machine for a long time, keeping it clean and coated in oil formulated to inhibit corrosion keeps the rust off.
Cover up all parts of your machine when not used to prevent dust and air exposure, which could lead to its deterioration.
The Importance of Lathe Machine Maintenance
To reduce all kinds of risks, ensure efficiency, and avoid expensive repairs in the future.
As long as you regularly maintain and follow good lathe machine maintenance, you spare yourself from the anxiety of all dangers while working.
It helps you become more focused on your artwork.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are certainly a lot of intriguing questions along with your newfound interest. Let’s briefly go over these.
How Often Should a Lathe be Serviced?
Doing a complete lathe machine servicing every six months ensures you do not miss anything in your lathe maintenance.
A new lathe machine often comes with annual or bi-yearly inspection and maintenance services. Best take note or check this during purchase.
What Is Preventive Maintenance for Lathe Machines?
This, in other words, means wear before care.
This refers to the amount or frequency of the practices you keep to ensure that your lathe machine is properly maintained.
Routinely performed lathe maintenance is necessary to prevent machinery from crashing and avoid unplanned downtime.
This goes from as simple as having to wear protective gears, keeping dust and rust off on the components of your machine tool, to having a replacement for the lathe machine spindle.
Even the need to cover your machines after you use them is part of its preventive maintenance.
How Do You Clean a Lathe Machine?
Wipe up every surface with a cleaning solution.
Cleaning with a rag dipped lightly in kerosene is also effective.
A clean lathe machine is more than having a smooth surface or using the most reviewed oil to lubricate the headstock, tool rest, spindle, etc.
Commit to a good maintenance routine.
Hobbies that keep you creative are good investments in yourself.
After investing money in the lathe machine and effort for its maintenance, at this point, we all want to make our purchase WORTH IT.
Enjoy turning, and avoid repairs that cost!