By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
Forum sponsored by:
Forum sponsored by Forum House Ad Zone

Lathe cover

Cover for lathe to stop rust

All Topics | Latest Posts

Search for:  in Thread Title in  
Steve Millward14/07/2021 11:10:12
14 forum posts

Hi everyone

i was just wondering if many people use a cover for lathe when not using

if not is there a way to stop rust



Andrew Tinsley14/07/2021 11:39:43
1611 forum posts

I use one to stop dust. Unfortunately a cover won't stop rust. You either need to use a dehumidifier in the workshop, or use some form of anti rust liquid on the lathe. Arc Euro do such an item amongst others.


Andrew Johnston14/07/2021 11:41:48
6668 forum posts
701 photos
Posted by Steve Millward on 14/07/2021 11:10:12:

i was just wondering if many people use a cover for lathe...........

I started off with covers on the lathe and vertical mill, but stopped using them fairly quickly. Unless there is a heater under the cover they just accentuate the rust problem by stopping air from circulating. I spray all the machines with WD40 now and again, and the slideways are oily anyway. I don't generally have a problem with rust. My workshop is fairly well ventilated as there's a gap top and bottom on the garage door due to cowboy installation.


Bo'sun14/07/2021 14:03:04
617 forum posts
2 photos

Another vote for a dehumidifier. A desiccant type would be my choice rather than a refrigerant type, because they tend to perform better at lower temperatures. A permanent drain if you can, and keep the doors shut or you'll be dehumidifying the world.

Jon Lawes14/07/2021 14:12:59
981 forum posts

I use an old wool blanket to stop rapid changes of temperature of the lathe; breathable but able to reduce the risk of sharp temperature gradients that would encourage moisture formation. It's the same blanket my grandad used on the lathe when he bought it new. My workshop is now dehumidified anyway so its more habit than anything, but it's worked for him and his was a workshop cut into a damp hillside with no heating.

JA14/07/2021 14:38:45
1401 forum posts
81 photos

Good question - not a beginner's one.

I am a believer in covering lathes and milling machines. In summer I am relaxed about it but come the cooler weather the machines are covered when not in use.

My workshop is dry but poorly heated. After cleaning the machine I used to spray it with WD40 and then squirt slideway oil at the exposed metal work before put on the cover. I no longer use WD40. I think the cover gives the machine its own little environment. I hope that it contains a useful amount of oil vapour to help protection.

Covers must not be porous. The Myford has a transparent plastic cover sold by Myford, the milling machine a garden seat cover and the little Cowells lathe a nice PVC cover I had made for it for about £30. The Myford cover has a life of around three years before it goes stiff and brittle.

Occasionally I think about making machine heaters similar to that shown in MEW of November 2003. Then I ask myself why, when I do not have a rust problem.


Jon Lawes14/07/2021 14:48:45
981 forum posts

I think the lathe cover being porous is a question that divides people: my opinion is that I would rather trapped moisture could escape, however I understand your reasons for asserting that it should be a solid barrier.

As for a machine heater, I have heard of people placing a small bulb (such as a cooker lamp) under their slideways to keep the temperature at a sensible level.

Steve Millward14/07/2021 15:15:28
14 forum posts

Cheers all I think I’ll try a small dehumidifier see how it goes I’ve had a single quilt cover in upto now

it seems to work ok apart from slight rust on 3 jaw Chuck

thanks for all replies


Jon Lawes14/07/2021 15:28:25
981 forum posts

I used one from screwfix that has been very good so far.

Peter G. Shaw14/07/2021 15:30:24
1454 forum posts
44 photos

When I first started in this game I used to suffer from rust and so I used to use WD40 quite liberally. Trouble is that it needs wiping off before use. Then I started to cover the lathe with a piece of cloth followed by a piece of plastic sheet. The logic here was to try and keep it warmish, to keep dust of it, and because the garage roof wasn't too clever, to protect the lathe against any leaks. Didn't stop the rust though.

Eventually, through the medium of ME & MEW with people reporting using, eg, a low power bulb under the lathe, I opted for some self-regulating heaters from RS, part no 360 4059. These devices maintain, or try to maintain, a constant temperature. The ones I bought were rated at 10W but actully seem to run at 18W. I fitted two to my lathe bed, and no mure rust ever since. I still use the cloth & plastic covers though.

I suppose there is a snag in that with two running permanently at 18W or 36W in total then there is a cost in electricity, but for me it's worth it.


Peter G. Shaw

not done it yet14/07/2021 16:30:31
6876 forum posts
20 photos

There are breathable fabrics which only allow water passage in one direction.

More expensive, no doubt, but more effective.

I only cover my machines when dust is likely to present a problem. The workshop is dried (and warmed a bit) by one or two meaco dd8l desiccant dehumidifiers. Cheap and cheerful, easily found secondhand (usually not working, if cheap) but easy to repair. They are not particularly reliable, but I have a repaired spare in hand…

They are used with timers and don’t cost so much to keep the humidity reasonably low and the temperature well above zero in winter. I generally run two when away from home in the winter - if one stops there is still some action and two can collect twice as much as one, before they are full up.

My smallish workshop is very well insulated - minimum of 100mm insulation (around and over most of it) and virtually air-tight.

Chris Mate14/07/2021 16:41:26
150 forum posts
32 photos

I don't have a rust problem, wife made a cover , but after some time however I decided to use a motorcycle cover breathing type, easy/quick/light to remove and put back on, it keeps dust out, so far no problems with it.

Dave S14/07/2021 19:13:13
373 forum posts
90 photos

My lathe ways get a good coverage of way oil during use, they don’t seem to rust when standing.

Same for the mill.
Both machines have a reservoir for the oil, I just keep it topped up.

No covers here.


bernard towers14/07/2021 21:12:23
687 forum posts
141 photos

No covers use hydraulic oil as cutting oil problem disappears

Chris Crew15/07/2021 06:58:52
230 forum posts

I have very little trouble with rust in the workshop and have never used any sort of cover over the machines. Why I have been spared this particular pestilence is difficult to say. I do use liberal amounts of soluble coolant which tends to leave an oily residue, presumably after the water evaporates, and I do have an old convector heater under the bench on its lowest possible setting switched on 24/7/365 but this doesn't kick in much below about 45 deg's in the winter and cold spring months. The workshop is a 21' x 13' pre-cast concrete garage with four single-glazed side windows, with the up-and-over door aperture replaced by a ship-lap 'site office' type front with a large single-glazed window. The original corrugated 'asbestos' roof failed with hair-line cracks after a few years, I presume because of the distortion of the A-frame trusses caused by me hanging so much shelving from them and this did give me a rust problem, so I fixed 2" x 2" purlins along the outside of the roof, put loft insulation between them and bolted a powder-coated sheet steel roof over the top of it all. I have had no further trouble since. This is the only insulation the workshop has, the inner walls are just pre-cast concrete panels painted white. As the window frames are getting near their 'sell-by' date I have considered replacing them with double-glazed units but the Maitresse de Maison keeps robbing me of any spare funds!

Circlip15/07/2021 08:49:35
1522 forum posts

Suggested these a while ago as an alternative to a bulb - Scroll down to 45W tubular heater, midern variant of the Piano heater.

No affiliation.

Regards Ian.

Edited By Circlip on 15/07/2021 08:50:38

Rob Thomas 415/07/2021 09:40:51
14 forum posts
7 photos

I've used this treatment (ACF 50) on my precious motorbike and lathe over winter in a marine environment to good effect. A bit pricey, but then most things which are good are seldom cheap!



Dave Halford15/07/2021 15:08:58
2091 forum posts
23 photos

I've found that anything that has rust on it already will get worse, right next to a pristine lump of fresh shiney steel.

if you blast clean a rusty thing to a uniform grey it will stay good for days. If you leave tiny black spots in the metal, rust will bloom out of them over night.

Pete Rimmer15/07/2021 16:49:18
1255 forum posts
69 photos

An ordinary bedsheet makes a good cover and I find duck oil liberally diluted with brake cleaner in a pump pressure pot makes not only a good cleaner but a decent preservative too. I must stress though, I don't have any rust problems within the workshop.

noel shelley15/07/2021 17:20:31
1435 forum posts
23 photos

If You blast clean steel or iron, in the pesence or moisture I have seen it turn red in 20 minutes, amazing ! I bought a Myford plastic cover 30 years ago, it is still soft and supple, not hard and cracking ! Be VERY careful with brake cleaner it is HIGHLY INFLAMABLE, DO NOT use in an enclosed space without good ventilation, THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE ! Noel

PS brake cleaner is a great engine starter fluid, lawn mowers and 2strokes - NO CHOKE !

All Topics | Latest Posts

Please login to post a reply.

Magazine Locator

Want the latest issue of Model Engineer or Model Engineers' Workshop? Use our magazine locator links to find your nearest stockist!

Find Model Engineer & Model Engineers' Workshop

Sign up to our Newsletter

Sign up to our newsletter and get a free digital issue.

You can unsubscribe at anytime. View our privacy policy at

Support Our Partners
Eccentric July 5 2018
Eccentric Engineering
Rapid RC
Subscription Offer

Latest "For Sale" Ads
Latest "Wanted" Ads
Get In Touch!

Do you want to contact the Model Engineer and Model Engineers' Workshop team?

You can contact us by phone, mail or email about the magazines including becoming a contributor, submitting reader's letters or making queries about articles. You can also get in touch about this website, advertising or other general issues.

Click THIS LINK for full contact details.

For subscription issues please see THIS LINK.

Digital Back Issues

Social Media online

'Like' us on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter
 Twitter Logo

Pin us on Pinterest