Lubricating the chuck to your engine lathe can be a tricky question.
Lubrication like grease can attract chips and jam up your chuck. If you don’t lubricate something like a scroll chuck, chips from running the machine can collect and make turning the chuck wrench difficult. Also, it is recommended to clean a chuck after cutting an abrasive metal like graphite or cast iron.
The best option is to read the manual that came with your chuck to check what the manufacturer recommends. For example, Bison recommends grease in their chuck. In general, there are three general types of lubrication – grease, oil and dry lube like graphite spray.
Usually oil works better than grease. Check out this video by Halligan142 on chuck maintenance and lubrication for your engine lathe. Halligan142 suggests avoiding grease in something like a four-jaw chuck, where due to the open design, the grease will attract chips and grime to gum up the interior of the chuck.
When using the oil, decant the oil in a small cup and apply a light coating to the sliding surfaces of the chuck jaw as well as the screws. After a light coat, wipe off the excess oil from the chuck with a paper towel.
After reassembling the chuck and attaching to your manual, engine lathe like the RKL Series that LeBlond sells, stand to the side of the machine to avoid getting drenched by the oil when the lathe gets up to speed. While running the engine lathe, you can always use a cardboard box big enough to cover the spinning chuck and catch the oil flinging from the machine.
In general, swarf and chips will collect in the chuck no matter what you do. Take apart your chuck, clean and lubricate with a light coat of oil for best performance.
Don’t miss our LeBlond lathe promotion until February 28th where you receive a free two-axis Newall DP700 digital readout with the purchase of a RKL 1300, RKL 1500 or RKL 1900 Series engine lathe. Check out the offer here. If you’re interested in new LeBlond manual lathes, K.O. Lee grinders or need original OEM parts for LeBlond, K.O. Lee, Standard Modern, Johnson Press, Deka Drill and W.F. & John Barnes equipment, fill out a contact form here.