Preventative Maintenance Overview: I'll be the first to admit that I love turning wood, not cleaning and maintaining machinery. However, every so often we need to take some time out and perform a bit of maintenance on our woodturning tools and machinery to make sure everything keeps working correctly.
If you just keep putting it off, your tools will eventually force you to stop and a simple routine job may turn into an all day ordeal. Even with effective control, dust is always a problem in a woodturning studio. An air compressor is a valuable and versatile addition to your studio's tool collection and is great for the occasional cleaning of dust and shavings from machinery.
My studio is dedicated to woodturning, so my supplemental preventative maintenance schedule is optimized for the machinery that supports my lathe. Here is my "MUST DO" list that keeps my lathe and supporting machinery and tools working correctly. It should be noted that I always wear a full-face safety shield and a respirator outfitted with P-100 dust filters and an organic vapor cartridge when performing these supplemental maintenance procedures. Safety First!
Note: The items listed below are in addition to any manufacturers maintenance requirements, or other repairs that may be needed from time to time. These are intended as a supplement to any other maintenance I may do, to insure the tools and machinery stay in good working order.
Lathe Preventative Maintenance: This is the workhorse of my studio, a big Oneway 2436, 3HP lathe. Beyond the maintenance done at the end of every day after turning, once per month I blow out the motor and controller boxes with compressed air to remove any fine dust.
The lathe is also checked for level and adjusted as necessary. I like to closely examine the bedways for any rust spots and if found, remove them with fine steel wool and WD-40.
Oneway 2436-3hp lathe
The electrical wires are also checked for damage. The tool rest is filed with a flat bastard file and smoothed to remove any dings, or damage. A light coating of microcrystalline wax on the toolrest helps to keep things sliding smoothly. The tool rest shaft is cleaned with wire wool to remove any sap, or accumulated grunge. Tool rest banjos are removed from the lathe and blown with compressed air to remove any shavings or dust.
The bearing surfaces on the inside of the banjos are lubricated with a specialty lubricant, as recommended by Oneway to keep the action smooth. I also like to fully extend the tailstock ram and clean any grunge from the ram arm. Once the ram is cleaned, I apply a light dry lubricant to the ram that does not attract dust. Once the lathe is fully cleaned, I apply a microcrystalline wax to the bedways and the undersides of the banjo and tailstock assemblies to keep everything sliding easily.
Laguna LT18 ACM Bandsaw
All raising and lowering levers and the tracking adjustment levers are cleaned and lubricated with a dry lubricant.
Dust collection fittings are checked and adjusted as necessary. Door vacuum seals are checked for wear and any damaged strips replaced as necessary.
The motor housing and fan area is also blown out with compressed air to remove any dust and the drive belt is checked for proper tension.
Bandsaw Preventative Maintenance: My 18" 3HP bandsaw is the second most used tool in my studio. Once every month, I remove the band and blow out all of the interior areas inside the cabinet with compressed air.
The door hinges and closing levers are lubricated with a dry lubricant that does not attract dust. Ceramic blade guides are blown with compressed air and inspected for wear and readjusted for proper fit on the band if necessary.
Bandsaw tires are cleaned if necessary (cutting lots of very wet wood for example), with a stiff natural bristle brush.
Laguna Ceramic Band Guides
Dust Collector Preventative Maintenance: My dust collector has a pleated top filter and a collection bag on the bottom. Although the top has a paddle to help remove dust from the interior of the pleated filter, I like to disassemble the top and clean out the dust with a vacuum and a few shots of compressed air every six months.
I also disassemble the lower hose where it enters the impeller fan box and clean and debris that may be in the bottom of the fan housing. The 6" flex ductwork is visually inspected for any clogs that may interfere with a good suction flow. The exterior of the dust collector and the motor are blown with compressed air to remove any dust or debris.
Oneida Super Dust Deputy Cyclone Upgrade
Jet Dust Collector DC 1100 (with original Dust Dog Filter)
Jet Dust Collector with Upgraded Dust Filter Modification
Jet Floor Mounted Drill Press
Drill Press Preventative Maintenance: Once every six months, I remove the pulley cover and blow out the area with compressed air. While the cover is open, I double-check the belt tension on both pulleys. The motor is also blown with compressed air to remove any dust in the cooling fins, or in the fan area.
If necessary, I lubricate the quill and clean the depth adjustment rod. The table riser is lubricated and the tabletop is checked for any rust spots. A small bit of fine steel wool and WD-40 easily removes any rust spots.
Chainsaw Preventative Maintenance: My chainsaws see brutal usage, so once a month; I remove the air filter cover and blow out any dust around the filter mounting. The air filter is then removed, cleaned and reinstalled. I remove the chain bar and clean the chain and bar of any accumulated gunk by soaking the chain in a cleaning solvent. The area where the bar is bolted to the chainsaw is blown with compressed air to clean and remove any oil saturated dust or shavings.
Stihl 066 Chainsaw "The Beast"
Stihl 026 Chainsaw "Mighty Moe"
The rest of the saw is blown with compressed air and inspected for loose bolts or other potential damage. A freshly sharpened chain is installed and everything is double checked for security. The dull chain is added to the pile that needs to be resharpened when it has been cleaned. (Of course, you need to sharpen the chain frequently on a chainsaw, but I always replace the current chain with a freshly sharpened chain when doing my supplemental maintenance so the saw is ready to go the next time I need it).
Table Saw Preventative Maintenance: My table saw sees light duty in the studio, so once every six months I clean and inspect the motor housing and blow any dust from the interior cracks and crevices. The tablesaw fence and the miter gauge are double checked for accuracy with machined blocks and an alignment gauge.
Preventative Maintenance for Small Hand Tools: These gets lots of usage in my studio, so every month I blow out the motor housings to remove any dust, and check the cords for any damage.
HVAC System Preventative Maintenance: My studio features a central air conditioning and heating system. Although it features a high efficiency primary filter and a 5" thick high efficiency supplemental filter, dust can still make its way onto the evaporator coils. Once every year, I check the coils and clean them if necessary with an a/c coil cleaner.
Preventative Maintenance on Lights and Misc: My studio has incandescent, florescent and halogen lights. A quick blast of compressed air every month removes any dust that may have accumulated on the lights. Once per year, I check the ballasts for correct operation and replace any that are slow to start, or those that have developed a loud buzz.
I would rather eat dirt than sweep out the shop, but even so once a month I do a general cleaning of the studio, including vacuuming all floor areas, nooks and crannies. No matter how good your dust collection is, you will still get dust on surfaces inside your studio. A good cleaning every so often will help to insure a cleaner studio when you're finishing those special projects.
It also removes shavings from the corners and under machinery to help prevent unwanted guests from taking up residence in your studio. A little bit of extra maintenance will go a long way towards insuring you can do what you really love – turn wood!
Safety Note: Always follow all manufacturers safety instructions before working with your lathe, or any of the tools or products you may use. If you are unsure about any operation, obtain competent professional instruction before proceeding. Use and wear all necessary safety devices during turning and observe safe woodturning practices to prevent accident or injury.
Steven D. Russell is a professional studio woodturner, teacher and writer. He has written numerous articles for international woodturning magazines, which have been published in more than 78 countries around the world. Steve has demonstrated in numerous cities across the United States. His studio, Eurowood Werks, specializes in bowls, platters and hollow forms with unique visual and tactile treatments.
Steve is also the current and founding President of the Lone Star Woodturners Association, Inc., an AAW member chapter. The LSWA is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization dedicated to teaching and demonstrating the art and craft of woodturning.
Steve is also a featured writer for the Guild of Master Craftsman's "Woodturning" magazine, published in London England. Woodturning magazine is the world's leading magazine for woodturners. Look for his articles covering technical topics, or project based articles in an upcoming issue.