what to use for general cleaning of a jointer/lathe/TS components?

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Forum topic by Spikes posted 12-21-2018 10:27 PM 1474 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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125 posts in 685 days

12-21-2018 10:27 PM


I’m completely new to the big iron world and have little to no clue on what’s appropriate for cleaning and maintaining an old machine. I got an old jointer and it needs a deep cleanup, all bolts and parts are rusted and the frame is all oily and grimy. What’s the best way to clean it up? should I take things apart where I can and then put them back with some grease? motor oil?

thanks for any pointer,

-- Don't worry about making progress, worry about practicing. If you practice you will make progress even if you don't want to.

8 replies so far

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 2126 days

#1 posted 12-22-2018 03:17 AM

For flat cast iron surfaces a razor blade scraper and a scotch brite pad will clean it good enough to wax it.

For smaller parts and anything capable of bringing to it, a bench grinder with a wire wheel. If you can’t scrape it off, wire brushes.

I wax everything with Johnson’s and also put 3in1 oil on anything threaded.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View OSU55's profile


2549 posts in 2629 days

#2 posted 12-22-2018 03:32 PM

I use naptha to get the grease and oil off. If its really gunked up and warm enough I take it outside, mineral spirits, a soap degreaser, hose it off – not where water can get into bearings, motors, etc. Small rusty parts get a quick wire brush wheel or hand brush to get layered rust, then soaked in Evaporust. Larger rusty parts get a drill mounted wire wheel if necessary, block sanded up to 320 or 600 (depends on the part, then scotchbrite usually with mineral spirits to take of the pitted rust as best as possible. Alox on all nonpainted non functional surfaces for rust prevention. All machined functional surfaces get paste wax (I prefer bowling alley wax). Threads get Alox. I only use oil or grease where it has to be used, attraacts sawdust. Sliding adjustment type surfaces get wax not oil or grease.

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117955 posts in 4217 days

#3 posted 12-22-2018 03:44 PM

Wire brush on a drill to start wipe off then use some automotive rubbing compound and a piece of scotch bright pad under a random orbital sander, after cleaning off and reapplying a second or more times clean off and use some naphtha of lacquer thinner to clean of excess, then apply Johnson or whatever brand paste wax without silicone in it with a soft cloth pard and the ROS on top it. After this it should shine like a mirror.


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1480 posts in 3401 days

#4 posted 12-23-2018 04:57 PM

+ on the Scotch Brite pads. they are available for sanders and rotary tools like right angle grinders. Use as a finishing tool, not rough work. leaves an excellent polished metal surface. If you elect to paint, use an oil base enamel. Dries slowly, doesn’t leave brush marks, and after thoroughly drying (like two weeks), gives an almost scratch proof finish.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View Holbs's profile


2262 posts in 2669 days

#5 posted 12-23-2018 11:07 PM

I would say depends on how far down the rabbit hole you want to go for rust removal. Electrolysis can be your friend, same for EvapoRust.
If I were in your position, I would not hesitate to tear things down, rebuild with grease, oil, new bearings, etc. You only get 1 shot at it.
Besides…you probably have to resharpen the jointer blades and set them anyways

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter "xylokopos/ξυλοκὀπος"

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5831 posts in 3883 days

#6 posted 12-24-2018 12:24 AM

Clean everything with Kerosene; sand out any rust spots with a hand sanding block; apply carnauba wax and polish. Good for at least 3 months.

View Spikes's profile


125 posts in 685 days

#7 posted 12-26-2018 10:58 PM

Ok, so I’ve done the following:
- pass with razor blade
- wd-40 with ROS and scotch brite
- alcohol with towel
- wax

It went from looking like this:

to looking like this:

the surface is still largely “rusted” however the color seems to have changed from the obvious orangish rust to this “dark” rust and I was told that keeping it like this was not only fine, but actually better as the surface was “rusted” and wouldn’t rust again. Surface is smooth to the touch, wood glides freely on it.

Should I go back to the razor blade/scotch brite pad or indeed this is a good place to stop? I’m worried that pushing a lot harder to go back to a shiny surface may cause damage by adding dips etc.

Also regarding the blades, they definitely need sharpening, but should I bother taking out the whole spinning head? it’s obviously also rusted, but not sure how much of a problem that is:

thanks all for the feedback

-- Don't worry about making progress, worry about practicing. If you practice you will make progress even if you don't want to.

View Spikes's profile


125 posts in 685 days

#8 posted 12-27-2018 06:16 AM

Ok I kept feeling some unevenness in the patches between the darker and lighter spots and tried my hand at it again… I think much better:

I also took out the blades, having no experience I can’t tell if they are worth taking to somebody to sharpen or just buy new ones:


-- Don't worry about making progress, worry about practicing. If you practice you will make progress even if you don't want to.

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