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Slideway protection

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Stuart Bridger04/02/2017 09:37:01
495 forum posts
28 photos

The demise of the rubber protective sheet on my Warco VMC has raised a question. Why do we protect the slideways on milling machines with bellows or similar, but we don't do the same on lathes? Is it just that it can be done on a mill, but is not practical a lathe?

Hopper04/02/2017 10:18:56
4911 forum posts
106 photos

I do. A piece of vinyl cut from a worn-out women's handbag attached to the front of the carriage, merely tucked into the back of the felt wiper and metal retainer fitted by myself. It keeps most of the swarf away from the carriage. The felt keeps out the rest. Seen here operating under heavier than usual load, you can see how it works. For more normal sized model engineer type work, the swarf never gets near the ways and is swept off down the back between cuts. I added the metal guard over the leadscrew for the same reason. I run a similar "apron" but only about two inches long, on the back of the carriage and it works well too. I previouslyt tried a pair of small metal trays attached fore and aft of teh carriage, as per an old article by Duplex in ME decades ago, but found the front one needed removing too often because it fouled the four jaw chuck and face plate , and the rear got in the way of the tailstock.

Edited By Hopper on 04/02/2017 10:19:43

Edited By Hopper on 04/02/2017 10:27:04

Nick_G04/02/2017 10:19:24
1808 forum posts
744 photos


Some people do. smiley

I have seen (usually aftermarket) installs of bellows on lathe beds. Some users simply lay paper or cloth along the bed. - When cutting cast iron I usually lay an old shirt on the bed taking care that it is placed in a way that will not make friends with rotating parts.!

I would imagine that the main reason they are not installed as standard more often is that they require a longer length and as such even when contracted may restrict the amount of movement on a small lathe. - Think they are quite common on big CNC machines.


JasonB04/02/2017 10:23:09
19178 forum posts
2107 photos
1 articles

And some of us don't cover our mill sildeswink

If I'm doing a large iron casting I may cover the lathe bed with a bit of card or stiff paper but otherwise don't worry about it.

Joseph Noci 104/02/2017 10:41:22
779 forum posts
994 photos

I feel rather sorry for the poor worn-out woman, what with nicking her handbag and all...


Hopper04/02/2017 10:54:10
4911 forum posts
106 photos
Posted by Joseph Noci 1 on 04/02/2017 10:41:22:

I feel rather sorry for the poor worn-out woman, what with nicking her handbag and all...


I was going to say an old woman's handbag but there is the off chance 'er indoors might be reading over my shoulder. Maybe I was just digging myself in deeper. At least I did not say I had an old bag that keeps the swarf under control for me.

Chris Evans 604/02/2017 11:00:02
1784 forum posts

I tend to cover the lathe ways with stiff paper of card when turning cast iron. For general cutting steel just a lot of brushing off is done. I do always cover the ways using my plywood chuck changing board when using emery cloth on the lathe. The Bridgeport mill just gets brushed off in use.

mark smith 2004/02/2017 11:22:49
671 forum posts
331 photos

When the rubber cover on my small warco mini mill fell to bits , i made these up of rubberised kevlar sheet bought off a supplier on ebay ,stitiched on a sewing machine using kevlar thread. Tuff as hell and does the job .


Journeyman04/02/2017 11:23:43
822 forum posts
142 photos

I use a bit of leftover plastic DPC.


Clamped to the carriage with a bit of aluminium extrusion using the travelling steady holes. Keeps the worst of the crud off the bed, easy to sweep / vacuum clean and folds up when it hits the headstock.


AJW04/02/2017 18:37:04
312 forum posts
121 photos
Likewise, I have a small sheet of rubber trapped under a piece of ally. If I am working the other side of the saddle I will have a piece of newspaper (screw it up and throw away regularly)
Keep it clean and oil it regularly!

john carruthers05/02/2017 10:58:52
606 forum posts
177 photos

A bit of ally foil from the kitchen makes a handy temporary muck cover, it doesn't tangle or get wrapped up as easily as cloth.

Neil Wyatt05/02/2017 12:13:30
18327 forum posts
718 photos
77 articles
Posted by mark smith 20 on 04/02/2017 11:22:49:

When the rubber cover on my small warco mini mill fell to bits , i made these up of rubberised kevlar sheet bought off a supplier on ebay ,stitiched on a sewing machine using kevlar thread. Tuff as hell and does the job .


That looks like a bullet-proof solution

dcosta05/02/2017 12:42:43
492 forum posts
207 photos

Good morning to all.

After the original protective bellows has disintegrated by the action of the oil, and while not applying new bellows, a small panel cut with scissors from a curtain of chopsticks plays a good role, is easily replaceable and very cheap.
I fastened to the panel, at three points, a wire guide that runs on the slides of the router.
You can see more images in my album.

Best regards
Dias Costa



Edited By dcosta on 05/02/2017 12:43:13

norman valentine05/02/2017 15:00:40
252 forum posts
35 photos

I use a piece of steel sheet held on with magnets. It does stop me getting too close to the chuck but is quick to remove.

Adrian Giles05/02/2017 15:20:38
70 forum posts
26 photos

I bought a way cover for my lathe from Amadeal, but I can't see it on their site now. Two magnets hold it to the headstock, and two to the saddle, concertina affair, very handy. Apart from the swarf sticking to the magnets!

bricky05/02/2017 15:25:12
457 forum posts
48 photos

I protect my mill with the silicon baking sheets bought for pence from the supermaket,they fold beautifuly.I attach mine with earth magnets so as to get at an concieled oil nipple and it is easy to remove.


Dave Barr12/10/2020 19:59:09
24 forum posts
3 photos

Cheers Norman you have just given me a great idea for material for my machine!

Have a spare grey dog bowl mat in silicone gonna try cutting a rectangular sheet out of this.

HOWARDT12/10/2020 20:28:17
621 forum posts
15 photos

Slide way covers prevent swarf getting into larger gaps between moving elements. On grinding machines with small particles these are important and also use wiper seals, which need replacing as they wear to ensure they wipe away the coolant carrying the swarf away as it can get between mating surfaces. On high production machines they help direct the coolant with the swarf into channels to the swarf separator. As a model engineer I don’t bother on either the mill or lathe as the swarf is larger than the machine gaps and no wash coolant is used, most small volume lubricant burns off with the chips. But if fitting way covers makes a person happy then!

Nigel Graham 221/10/2020 22:41:19
810 forum posts
16 photos

I note Journeyman's use of d.p.c. as I have some remaining from replacing my workshop windows, and it would probably work very well on the cross-slide of my Harrison L5, where space at the back is a bit too limited for a rigid cover.


My Myford VMC mill came incomplete with the bellows between the back of the cross-slide and the top of the column.

After I had made the garden frog colony happy by building a deluxe pond especially for them, I tried a sheet of left-over butyl pond-liner, not sure how it would withstand oil and folding.

It is not in bellows form but works well, seems oil-resistant, though does bulk up a bit at extreme set-ups (sets-up?) and travels, and I have had to remove it once or twice for such tasks. Those are rare though.

To hold the top edge I used a piece of thin aluminium angle from B&Q, drilling the resulting ledge with several holes of various sizes to hold the centre-finder, drill-chuck key, screw-driver and such-like.

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