Proper lubricant for Jointer ways and in&out feed tables?

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Forum topic by sawdustjeff posted 01-03-2020 11:57 PM 4267 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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30 posts in 2882 days

01-03-2020 11:57 PM

Topic tags/keywords: humor

I’m in the process of restoring an old Craftsman 351 6-1/8” Jointer. When I got it, I couldn’t adjust either of the tables.

After some wrenching, I managed to get the infeed table off, to discover a thick coat of grease that had absorbed a lot of sawdust and was more putty-like than lubricant.

I’ve cleaned-up the Gib and the dovetail ways and will be reassembling the infeed table and then removing the outfeed table.

In the past, I’ve had reasonably good luck with White Lithium Grease to lube the ways and Gib but wonder if there isn’t something better.

Of course, the Craftsman Operator’s Manual says, “Use lubricant”. Wow! Who would of thought of that???

Any suggestions?

10 replies so far

View Lazyman's profile


8861 posts in 2728 days

#1 posted 01-04-2020 03:57 PM

I don’t like the smell of the white lithium so generally avoid using it but it should work. I am not aware of a grease that won’t attract sawdust but maybe one of the dry lubricants would work. I just do know enough about dry lubricants to know how effective they would be in this application.

Maybe a bump, will get some other ideas.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View splintergroup's profile


6381 posts in 2563 days

#2 posted 01-04-2020 03:57 PM

The (usually) bronze gibs are porous with the intent that any lubricant will get into these pores and help keep things sliding smoothly, just like bronze motor bushings. I’d tend towards a lower viscosity oil versus a grease, but most anything will probably be ok.

For the tables, any of the umpteen table saw top coatings would be excellent ( I prefer paste wax).

View Phil32's profile


1648 posts in 1244 days

#3 posted 01-04-2020 05:19 PM

For the ways, why not use a lubricant that goes on as a liquid then turns dry as the solvent evaporates – like WD-40?

-- You know, this site doesn't require woodworking skills, but you should know how to write.

View Lazyman's profile


8861 posts in 2728 days

#4 posted 01-04-2020 05:26 PM

Not sure how long it would take for WD-40 to dry or whether it would still act as a lubricant when it does. It’s primary intended purpose is for rust prevention. Plus I’ve read that the WD-40 can get gummy over time.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View OnhillWW's profile


329 posts in 2573 days

#5 posted 01-04-2020 06:55 PM

This application does not see high speeds, heavy loads or concern about waterproofness. The three major concerns when selecting grease so whatever you have on hand is probably fine. Grease is fundamentally an oil dispersed in a binding media such as clay or another suitable media, all predicated on the demand placed on the lube as per the three I mentioned. There are many dry lubes out there Eezox is one I have a lot of experience with ( ) along with spray on silicone formulations. I would be more inclined to use a grease and periodically clean and reapply vs going the dry lube route as it will offer more lubrication albeit with the drawback of attracting and holding dust. As mentioned past wax for the tops, I use a 100% carnauba wax on all my tops and it has served me well for decades. Whatever you do and I mean no disrespect to a previous poster but never use WD-40. It is NOT a lube, it may be slippery when applied but it was designed as a water dispersal or displacement product hence the name – WD-40, i.e. formulation 40. Ironically in time it actually attracts rust and promotes corrosion. It is touted as the aspirin of the lube world when in fact it does nothing very well except dry cracked ignition wires restoring spark to an engine. There is a whole universe of purpose designed lubes all of which work better than WD-40. In the gunsmithing profession it is referred to as Weapon Destroying formulation #40.

I just thought of this. At one time I was an avid cyclist and what I lubed my chains with was a home brew of synthetic 50 weight oil mixed 50/50 with mineral spirits. The MS thinned the mixture and allowed the lube to be drawn into the tight articulating parts of the chain. I’d clean the chain, apply lube, turn the cranks in reverse 3 – 4 complete cycles, let sit for a half hour to an hour for the MS to evaporate, wipe the chain down with a clean absorbent cotton rag to remove all extraneous oil. The only oil needed was the oil in the tight areas of the chain where parts are in contact and or move, anything else just attracted dust and grit. Maybe a heavy oil applied with post application wipe down would work in your application as well.

-- Cheap is expensive! - my Dad

View JackDuren's profile


1788 posts in 2300 days

#6 posted 01-04-2020 07:52 PM

If your talking about the top johnson’s paste wax is the cure…been used in cabinet shops as far back as I can remember….

View jbmaine's profile


168 posts in 811 days

#7 posted 01-04-2020 09:35 PM

I’ve used WD-40 to keep rust off of machine tools for decades. Works great for that, but it is gummy when dry. Really no good for long term lubricant. You want something dry and slick. For ways, gibs, adjustments, on wood working machinery I just use paste wax. Dry and slippery, just what you are looking for.

View MrUnix's profile


8866 posts in 3540 days

#8 posted 01-04-2020 09:41 PM

Paraffin wax. Grab a pound at your local grocery store (Gulf canning wax) for a buck or two – will last a -long- time and works great on other stuff like drawer slides, sliding door tracks, etc…


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View sawdustjeff's profile


30 posts in 2882 days

#9 posted 01-06-2020 01:35 AM

Thank you all for your posts.
While I waited for my topic to post, I actually finished the jointer rebuild.
I was kind of leaning to the dry lubricants, since I also don’t like the smell of white lithium and was also aware that WD-40 isn’t really a lubricant.
It never occurred to me that paraffin wax could be used, next service interval I’m going to try that.
OnhillWW, I’m also going to try the 50 weight oil mixed with mineral spirits. I may lube one table with wax and the other with the oil and MS mix just to see which last the longest and soaks up the least sawdust.
This time around I used something called Blaster which is supposed to be a dry lubricant used in automotive applications. The tables seem to slide very well with little effort so the sawdust build-up should be the real test. Blaster goes on as an aerosol and dries in about 5 minutes. Two coats wiped in between created slick surfaced ways and dovetails.
Lastly, I treated one table with DryCoat and the other with carnauba wax.
This is going to be an on-going experiment (anything but actually doing some REAL work) so we’ll see.
Thanks again for all your posts and great ideas.

P.S. Splintergroup, this was a slightly above cheap Craftsman jointer, no bronze was found or hurt in the making of this rebuild.

View bc4393's profile


113 posts in 2483 days

#10 posted 01-06-2020 03:11 AM

My dad has been using marvel mystery oil as way oil for years and that’s what we put on mine. 30 years of machinery rebuild/repair talking. Take it or leave it.

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