Friday, September 09, 2005

Chuck maintenance

My lathe chuck slowly gets clogged up with fine wood dust and the key operation becomes quite sticky. So I will occasionally blow out all the dust with the shopvac, and lubricate the mechanism with graphite lubricant. This is a fine graphite dust and is sold in hardware stores for lubricating door locks, amongst other things.

After I turn the jaws in and out a few times, they become noticeably easier to operate. And when I put it back on the lathe I get a much better feel for the amount of gripping pressure I apply. I have been turning a lot of bottle stoppers lately, and before cleaning I was finding the dowel had a tendency to come out of the jaws at the slightest provocation. After cleaning the mechanism I get a much better grip. I can only assume that more of the key torque is transferred to the jaws when the gears are operating smoothly.

The investment of few minutes of maintenance time has paid off well.

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