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Keeeping Machines Clean, New idea or Old?

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Martin King 207/03/2015 19:59:58
1017 forum posts
460 photos

Hi All,

Having spent a week last month hard at various small jobs on the Myford, mainly making small parts for the various tools that we restore, I was aghast when I saw the state of the lathe, covered everywhere in fine brass and steel swarf, oil and grease everywhere.

It took a good hour of elbow grease to get everything clean and regrease all points and clean all tooling.

It ocurred to me that if I were to cover the tray with layers of cling film this might make the cleanup next time easier and it really did! Just carefully peeled back the film with all the s**t on it after brushing the lathe down. Nothing got spilt and a quick wipe round a nd as good as new!.

Just done the same thing with the mill as shown.

Probably been done before but a revelation for me!

Cheers, Martin

Capstan Speaking07/03/2015 21:29:09
177 forum posts
14 photos

Ok if your swarf is cold. However a long swarf trail might snag it and drag it in. Nasty.

Eee wen I wurr a lad we ad ta clean down for the next shift every time. wink

Roger Provins 208/03/2015 05:05:48
344 forum posts

I've just accepted that machines and machine rooms get mucky. I clean away most of the swarf and oil as I go along throughout the day then have a major clean at the end so it's nice for the next morning. The main thing is to deal immediately with anything that might be a danger, rubbish on the floor, piles of swarf around the chuck et cetera.

It is after all a workshop not a showroom and the machines are tools not showpieces.


Thor 🇳🇴08/03/2015 05:22:47
1660 forum posts
46 photos

Hi Martin,

I have never used cling film to cover lathe or milling machine. I have a removable sheet metal tray under the lathe bedways and it is easy to get rid of the swarf produced. I see you have covered part of the milling table with some pieces of wood, I do something similar on both milling machine table and the lathe bed.


Brian Rice 108/03/2015 07:53:20
82 forum posts
11 photos

I have a lady that does wink

Ian S C08/03/2015 08:17:06
7468 forum posts
230 photos

Didn't know there were grease points on the Myford, I thought they were oil nipples. 'Fraid I just dig my lathe out just before it disappears under the swarf.

Ian S C

Capstan Speaking08/03/2015 08:39:13
177 forum posts
14 photos

A benefit of an occasionally grubby machine is that you have evidence to show the misses for why you spent all that money.

Plus it discourages her from trespassing in the mancave. Bonus number two. wink

Paul Lousick08/03/2015 08:42:16
2077 forum posts
727 photos

Mine is a work horse not a show pony but try to keep it reasonably clean and well oiled.

Martin King 208/03/2015 08:55:33
1017 forum posts
460 photos

Hi, Totally agree that the machines are there to be used but I quite enjoy string work on something that is tidy.

i take the point about long swarf and will keep an eye out.


Roger Williams 208/03/2015 09:04:59
351 forum posts
4 photos

Hello all, went to see a machinist friend recently, and this is one of his Holbrooks. The chuck was actually rubbing on the compacted chips.I know its a tool to make money, but now and again a bit of a clean up wouldnt go amiss !.

FMES08/03/2015 09:33:42
608 forum posts
2 photos

Admittedly some forty odd years ago, the MoD apprenticeships of the time had instructors that insisted that the machines were kept clean not only at the end of each class, but during the machining operations as well.

Its a process that I still keep to today, and even insist on our current apprentices following a similar procedure.

We wouldn't be able to adopt the cling film method as all of our machines have slurry trays / drains in the base so a little vigilance on maintaining a clean working environment always pays dividends not only in how you personally feel in working in a sh*t tip but also on the longevity of the machine.

If I'm machining materials that chip I often use an industrial vacuum to remove the chips before they become a nuisance which means very little cleaning up at the end of a session.

JasonB08/03/2015 10:19:03
23050 forum posts
2769 photos
1 articles

I can just Imagine John Stevo raiding the kitchen as I type this ready to cover the lathes for mondays work.

I keep a 1" paintbrush that does throughout the day to clean off the toolpost when changing holders and flick the worse down into the chip tray. Empty the chip tray when it starts to look a bit full so frequency depends on what I'm working on or if I drop a part in the swarf.

Same brush boes for cleaning the mill vice and a workshop vac will do the tee slots and surrounding area.

Tend to have a general tidy up at teh end of Sundays session but don't go as far as getting the polish outwink 2

Jesse Hancock 108/03/2015 10:56:49
314 forum posts

I was always told that you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs and of course this can be applied to making more or less anything.

Cleaning up after yourself is very necessary on many different levels which I don't intend listing here but it really helps in the main to take stock of where your project and your machinery are. It gives one a chance to scrutinise wear and tare more closely. It gives you a chance to think about what you'll need when you next start work.

Well that's what I do when cleaning up.

The revelation should be that a brush will last much longer than cling film and so in general terms a brush is more economical.

Edited By Jesse Hancock 1 on 08/03/2015 11:28:18

steamdave08/03/2015 11:20:26
521 forum posts
45 photos

Cleanliness is next to Godliness.
As it seems we are no longer a god fearing lot, that would explain the state of Some workshops!

The Emerald Isle

Capstan Speaking08/03/2015 11:51:31
177 forum posts
14 photos

Lots of valid points. If you look after your kit it will look after you. A good craftsman will keep his space to the same standard as his work.

Everyone who has a choice sets their own standard but it's not a showroom or a pig sty.

Jesse Hancock 108/03/2015 12:10:18
314 forum posts

Dave: For anyone who thinks freely understands that fearing God was a way of getting the general population to cow tow to those in power.

Today they think up other plans to get you to toe the line.

Edited By Jesse Hancock 1 on 08/03/2015 12:10:46

mechman4808/03/2015 13:15:50
2947 forum posts
468 photos

Lots of opinions from one degree to another, I generally do a reasonable swarf clean up at the end of my man cave session, tools back in their respective storage locations, a quick sweep or hoover up of the floor, a once a week good clean down & that's it until next weeks clean through. I have a stainless roasting dish under my lathe bed for swarf collection, plus a 1/2" & 2" brush for sweep off of the top slides & t slots, the same on my mill.


Oompa Lumpa08/03/2015 21:10:40
888 forum posts
36 photos

Been thinking about this since I saw it this morning. The clingfilm would drive me potty. I balance a fine line between getting on with it and trying to keep the workshop clean. I would be the first to admit I am a bit (okay, a bit more than "a bit" OCD when it comes to tidiness.

The fact is I cannot, will not, work in a pig sty. A good friend of mine who is a very talented engineer has a workshop that is just one massive Hazard. I am quite open with the fact that I am quite cavalier with rules and regulations, interpreting as I see fit but the chances of tripping and shoving your hand into a moving machine in my friends place is pretty high.

I realise I am talking about organisation and tidiness here and not cleanliness. But they both go hand in hand in my opinion. I forget who it was, but when he built his new workshop he reduced his workbench size considerably. He recognised that he was untidy so reckoned that if he reduced the workbench he would have less space to create clutter and then it wouldn't be an onerous task when he finally realised it was time to "tidy up".

Cling film is a bit of an extreme really, it actually reduces your ability to work if you think about it. When I am working I use the surfaces, tables, vice, whatever to take measurements from and to clamp to. Messing around with cling film - or indeed any covers or shields just increases the time taken to carry out a simple task in my opinion.

As many of the people have said, a good tidy up at the end of every day (or session) with a good vacuum in all the nooks and crannies at the end of the week works for me. What makes this a bit easier is having everything organised so it is easy to clean around or in the drawers and shelves. Planning your shelving and storage areas is far more important I think. I like nice open shelves as this serves two purposes for me. Firstly - I can see what I have got and where it is. How many have bought an angle plate only to discover that actually they have one that size but forgot? Plenty I would venture. Secondly, it makes cleaning just so simple. All the heavy stuff on the bottom and the lighter stuff on the top, swarf goes - generally - downover so you can vacuum everything up to about waist height with impunity, difficult to suck a milling vice up!

The other, vitally important aspect is to lubricate everything, the slideways and tables on my kit all have a light film of Mobil Vactra. Rust is something that I just couldn't cope with.


John Haine08/03/2015 22:24:17
4716 forum posts
273 photos

Unfold an old newspaper onto the chip tray, works quite well and absorbs the cutting oil.

Roger Williams 209/03/2015 09:46:04
351 forum posts
4 photos

Oh well, better have a tidy up then face 8

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