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Edge finder lubrication

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David Ambrose18/06/2022 08:19:33
28 forum posts
3 photos

What do you use to lubricate your edge finder. I find that when I use it, admittedly infrequently, the faces are sticky because the oil has turned to gunk. So I clean it with solvent, re-lubricate, and wait for it to happen again. I’ve tried light oil, WD40, etc.

I guess other options are:

use nothing


dry silicone spray

slideway oil

electric razor oil

Thor 🇳🇴18/06/2022 08:41:06
1660 forum posts
46 photos

Hi David,

I haven't experienced the oil on my edge finder turning into gunk (may be I use it more often than you?). I use a light (ISO 32) hydraulic oil on mine.


Paul Lousick18/06/2022 09:04:33
2078 forum posts
727 photos

Lubricate an edge finder ????

I normally have the opposite problem of wiping excess oil off it. surprise

SillyOldDuffer18/06/2022 09:09:39
8895 forum posts
1998 photos

Ignorance is bliss, never realised my edge finder might need lubricating! Still OK after 8 years neglect. Mine is a type C in this picture pinched from ArcEuro.

If oil is needed at all, I guess one sold for a delicate mechanism, light, slippery and not prone to gumming.  Clock or Sewing Machine Oil might do.

WD40 is good for cleaning and loosening sticky mechanisms, but the lube effect soon wears off and it leaves a sticky layer that collects muck. GT85 probably has the same problem: it's a combination lubricator and protective, and protective layers are bad news for delicate mechanisms. I'm suspicious of dry silicone on an edge finder for the same reason.

Slide-way oil is far too sticky, and I'd avoid anything containing vegetable oil because they tend to gum up. (Household oil such as 3 in 1 etc.)

Never come across electric razor oil, sounds promising though.

Or do you mean the ball-type?

Got a set of these, but don't use them much. As the balls are a bit sticky on my version the chuck's grip has to be carefully adjusted so they're neither too tight or too loose. A drop of any old oil might help, dunno.




Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 18/06/2022 09:10:16

AdrianR18/06/2022 09:28:57
597 forum posts
36 photos

I have the same type of edge finder. It came coated in the anti rust "mineral oil ear wax" trouble is it also had filled up the inside. I still have not managed to clean it all out so when left for a while it sticks. I use WD40 and some tissue to clean the faces and it works great again for a few months.

Hopper18/06/2022 09:39:16
6690 forum posts
347 photos

I would spray it with WD40 for storage and clean it off before use. Seems like metal to metal contact should be good in that application.

Neil Lickfold18/06/2022 10:12:16
892 forum posts
195 photos

I dont use wd40 for much anymore. I don't like the way it gums up over time. Baby oil I find very good for a lot of things, like lube for mic spindles and a drop on the edgefinders works very well too.

peak418/06/2022 12:00:53
1786 forum posts
193 photos

Balistol Universal Oil is good stuff, though has a rather odd smell.


bernard towers18/06/2022 12:01:10
691 forum posts
141 photos

like Thor I use Hyd oil as it is less prone to drying out and its moisture repellence is second to none. you could also try 3 in 1 oil as it is a light machine oil that doesn't dry out.

Gary Wooding18/06/2022 12:35:30
996 forum posts
255 photos

I warm it in my hands and manipulate it until it seems free enough. If that doesn't work then I use a tiny drop of 3-in-1.

blowlamp18/06/2022 14:30:11
1655 forum posts
106 photos

A smidgen of candle wax.

Mark Rand18/06/2022 15:16:12
1314 forum posts
38 photos

Absolutely nothing. That seems to work very well with my edge finders... If they got contaminated with anything toxic, like WD40, 3-in-1 or similar, they'd get cleaned with acetone, then allowed to dry.


Note:- my shed is dry and has a stable temperature.

Edited By Mark Rand on 18/06/2022 15:17:01

ChrisLH18/06/2022 16:15:38
40 forum posts
1 photos

I have the wobbler type and have never thought of oiling it; seems to work all right without. If it did need lubricating I think I would try the old bookbinders trick for attaching gilding to covers, they use (or used) the grease off the end of their noses !

mark costello 118/06/2022 16:38:09
725 forum posts
12 photos

I wrote a letter (remember them) ages ago to Starrett asking this very question. They replied They used STP oil treatment. Was walking into an auto parts store and someone tossed a can out with some in it.I have a nail polish sized bottle that has lasted 30 years so far. Skint to the bone.

SillyOldDuffer18/06/2022 18:03:40
8895 forum posts
1998 photos
Posted by mark costello 1 on 18/06/2022 16:38:09:

... Skint to the bone.

As is right and proper!


David Ambrose19/06/2022 15:43:36
28 forum posts
3 photos

Thanks for all the helpful responses. I will clean off the gunk again, and experiment with gun oil/razor oil/nothing in that order.

David Ambrose19/06/2022 15:45:18
28 forum posts
3 photos

And I’m not talking about the ball type.

Nigel Graham 219/06/2022 17:09:11
2287 forum posts
33 photos

WD-40 is not really a lubricant but is good for removing existing oil.

Baby oil and I'd think shaver oil, are most likely vegetable oils, and these tend to dry to a sticky residue.

I'm not sure about Mark Rand's "anything toxic" remark though; and his cleansing of everything in acetone. Toxic to him or to the edge-finder?

Mark Rand19/06/2022 21:15:58
1314 forum posts
38 photos
Posted by Nigel Graham 2 on 19/06/2022 17:09:11:

I'm not sure about Mark Rand's "anything toxic" remark though; and his cleansing of everything in acetone. Toxic to him or to the edge-finder?

As far as I'm concerned, WD40 and 3-in-one oil are products that have no place in any workshop as lubricants. They both end up, after time, leaving a sticky mess that defeats the functioning of any fine mechanism.

If you want something that doesn't gum things up, you need something that is pretty much all straight alkanes. Try PlusGas for very low viscosity, medicinal paraffin or hydraulic oil for higher viscosities.

Neil Lickfold20/06/2022 00:35:00
892 forum posts
195 photos

The baby oil I buy is near pure paraffin oil, which is distilled from petroleum oils. There are synthetic mineral oils, which a lot tend to use, not sure on the base being from plant or petroleum. Out here you can also buy it in bulk form from Bunings as Diggers Paraffin oil. There may be vegetable based oils out there, but not the ones I buy. The reason for just getting small bottle is it lasts me many years, and I like the small aperture on the cap. I also use it to thin out bearing blue. I have never noticed my indicators or mic spindles to get stiff over time.It is not the paraffin that is often confused as being Kerosene . It is a very light highly refined oil that is used in industry alot, as well as in the medical field. You can ingest small amounts pure paraffin oil and not be poisoned. It's in my nasal spary for hayfever for example.

All that really matters is the repeatability of the instrument or tool. You can easily test the different oils etc, and will see that with a thicker oil, it will read differently to a very thin oil, or when it is clean and dry.

The testing I did, clean and dry was the same as using the baby oil and still wet with Brake cleaner. The car oil (20W50) made it read late by 0.015mm on my testing. Baby oil is Zero, Clean and dry is zero. Wet with brake clean is zero, ATF oil is zero. My lathe oil which I was certain would be late , as it has 20w50 oil, some ATF oil, Lucas Oil stabilzer(really sticky stuff) and wyns friction reducer, was also zero and did 1 read of early by 0.005 the resolution of my mill DRO is the X axis. 10 weight , very light spindle oil, also Zero. Lastly tested 60 weight approx castor oil, it was late by 0.035mm . It was also the most difficult to clean off the surfaces after testing. It was the stickiest of all oils I had for testing.

My conclusion is , you can use a lot of different oils and some mixes of oils and still get the same results. If it gets sticky though or gummy, then it will read incorrectly. My edgefinder is the type with a 10mm diameter ceramic disc running on a steel shaft. I also have a Starrett one that has a 6mm shaft, but did not test the steel to steel one. It has bay oil between the surfaces.

Edited By Neil Lickfold on 20/06/2022 00:36:23

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