Today’s discussion gave tips on maintaining tools to limit repairs and have more time for woodturning. The notes include suggestions for a variety of tools in the shop. A list of resources for more information is included at the end of the notes.
The Lathe

  • One member had a problem with dust in the on/off switch. The lathe wasn’t working well but a repairman couldn’t fix it since he was only looking for faulty parts. Another member suggested blowing out the switch to clean the contacts with compressed air and that fixed the problem.
  • The rheostat that controls the speed can have dirt inside the switch. Blow out the dust and spray it with contact cleaner. A new rheostat can be inexpensively purchased online through Walmart if one is needed.
  • The forward/reverse switch wouldn’t go into reverse on one lathe. Again, it was a dust problem and worked when cleaned.
  • A lathe was noisy and needed the bearings replaced. It may cost around $300 to have them replaced or an individual can replace them for around $100. Bill McDonald and Ric Davis have experience replacing them and can assist others who want to learn while replacing them.
  • The speed sensor for variable speed was tilted on one lathe and caused some noise until it was adjusted.
  • Another cause of lathe noise was that the belt was too tight, placing extra forces on the motor. After slightly loosening the belt, the noise went away. The noise had sounded like it would be the bearings, so it’s a good idea to check the belt first.
  • Are the bearings shielded or sealed? At least on the Powermatic, they are sealed. Sealed is best because it keeps dust out of the bearing.
  • General lathe maintenance should include cleaning the bed and treating it with paste wax or a similar protectorant. Check the quill and Morris taper and clean out those areas.
  • Prevent damage to the lathe bed when applying resins or CA glue by covering it with cardboard or paper. A slot can be made in those many Amazon boxes to fit the bed and then discard it after too many uses. One member uses a magnet to hold newspaper in place on the bed. An AAW article mentioned making a tray from cardboard with some raised sides to keep things from falling off the bed.
  • Be cautious when leaving items, such as wet wood, on the lathe bed overnight since they could cause the surface to rust.

The Band Saw

  • A member presented the problem that he was unable to make a square cut even though the material was at a 90° angle to the fence. The conclusion was that the blade was dull.
  • Tuning a bandsaw can be difficult.
  • To test the tension of the blade when the blade is tight: When looking at a 4” segment of the blade, there should be less than ½” movement if you compress the side of the blade.
  • One member has a ‘tension on/tension off’ sign over his on/off switch to remind him to change the tension when using the saw. Another has a magnet that has a sign “tension on” on one side and “tension off” on the other side that he changes to the appropriate side when changing the blade tension. It’s important to leave the tension off when not in use. The wheel has rubber around it and will leave a flat spot if it’s left on. Also, it puts a strain on the blade that cause stress cracks over time if the tension is left on.
  • What can be done with old blades? Cut them into 10” sections, fold at 45° and use them to hold things that are being finished.
  • One member has resharpened blades using a Dremel and stone by hand at the approximate angle but has not used them afterward for critical cuts. Stuart Batty has used a diamond file to quickly go around a blade to sharpen it but it also wasn’t used for critical cuts.
  • The rubber around the wheel needs periodic cleaning to prevent sawdust and sap from building up. One member uses CMT spray and wipes it off with paper towels. Trend spray is another brand that is used to clean tools. Another mounted a brush that rubs off debris as the saw is being used.
  • One member stands behind the bandsaw and uses a nylon or wire brush that he holds in midair while the saw is on to clean the saw blade. Simple Green and a brush can also be used to clean it by hand.
  • The blade guide bearings may seize up and have to be replaced.


  • One way to clean a CBN wheel is to touch a plain white eraser from Office Max against the wheel.
  • One member uses a lubricant paste, Slick Stick, purchased from Woodturners Wonders, sparingly on the CBN wheel to lubricate it and reduce friction while sharpening tools. ( ) Some members were concerned about it gumming up the wheel. A conservative approach would be to put the lubricant on the tool instead of the wheel before sharpening.
  • Water or mineral oil can be used as a lubricant to float the metal shavings when sharpening carving tools using a diamond hone or a whet stick. A water lubricant is also used with a diamond hone. These lubricants may also help clean a CBN wheel.
  • A rare earth magnet was placed on the housing below the wheel to collect metal shavings that fall when sharpening. It helps, but there is always a need to periodically vacuum.
  • Use caution if using wire brushes to clean the CBN wheel. It can’t tolerate soft metals and the metal will fill spaces on the wheel.
  • Craft Supply has many students and they don’t use anything to clean their CBN wheels.
  • Robo Hippie suggests using lapping fluid on sharpening wheels.
  • If any members have difficulty balancing their wheels, contact Spence as a mentor. He suggested the Norton 3X as the best stone wheel. It has plastic inserts that can require finesse to balance it. An application of magic mending tape around the arbor before sliding the plastic insert onto it can help balance it.
  • The aluminum oxide wheel is more critical to be balanced than the CBN wheel.
  • Self-aligning spherical washers with concave and convex fittings help with centering on the arbor. Purchase the ones that are the correct size for the grinder.
  • The position of the wheel relative to the armature affects the balance. If the wheel shows an oblong front to back movement, it can help to shim the armature. For a smooth sharpening grind, a wheel that doesn’t vibrate is essential.


  • Green or sappy, resiny wood can accumulate in the flutes on gouges and prevent clean cuts. Several ways to keep the flutes clean were discussed. A brass wire brush could be used by hand to clean the flute before sharpening. A polishing motor or drill with a rotating brass wire wheel will be helpful if it’s hard to get off. A steel brush followed by some WD40 in the flute can help prevent buildup. Acetone, CMT, Simple Green and other substances may also be helpful.

Measuring Tools and Devices

  • Digital calipers may need cleaning or lubrication on the jaws or track. They often have to be reset to ‘0’, possibly because of dust build up between the jaws.
  • Some tips were given on using calipers. They can be held behind a project when turning to measure the specific size. The points should be rounded off to prevent them from catching on the object. Open end wrenches can also be used for accurate measurement. Again, the sharp points should be rounded off.


  • Blow out the dust buildup in any openings but don’t take them apart!
  • Inspect the jaws before use. One member heard a noise and discovered that one of the hex screws was missing from one of the jaws.
  • Sap and finishes can get into areas. It’s hard to get inside the dovetail but it could be clamped in a vise to hold it. A wire brush and lacquer thinner, Trend or CMT, acetone, denatured alcohol, mineral spirits and perhaps a bit of vodka can help break down those saps or finishes. (The vodka is best appreciated after the cleaning is done!)
  • Use compressed air to push out dust from the front and back of the chuck between uses.
  • One member uses brake cleaner to clean the gears on the back and inside the chuck (over newspaper since it’s messy) and then applies a dry silicone spray as a lubricant.

Other Resources and Links

Lathe Maintenance Links

Bandsaw Maintenance

Gouge Maintenance

Notes by Kathy Allen