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Mill ways cover

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  • Mill ways cover

    I need to find a better material to make a new way cover that goes between back of the table and the column on my mill. I have been using 1/16" neoprene gasket material which is what the original cover appeared to be made from.. It works for a while then starts to stretch out of shape and the last one split in the middle. I would like to find a material that is thin, has some fiber in it and would remain flexible when covered with WD40 regularly. The neoprene seems to soften and stretch from the WD40. Any suggestions?
    Larry - west coast of Canada

  • #2
    Leather will last 50 years.



    • #3
      I have piece of treadmill belt which seems to be quite durable so far.


      • #4
        Flat roofing membrane is pretty tough, and free if you know someone in the business.


        • #5
          McMaster has the neoprene sheets reinforced with fabric. I've never hand that stuff split on its own. It's very durable. I used it on my mill for years with no problems.
          Southwest Utah


          • #6
            I had a good amount of coated Cordura outdoor style fabric from a past project. Because it was on hand I used it for making some covers for the mill and lathe. It's holding up well to a pretty wide variety of oils and water soluble cutting fluids. I originally used it coated side down but the texture held the chips too well. I turned it over so the smoother coated side is up and it's fairly easy to clean now.

            It doesn't really have any stiffness of it's own so it needs to be used with supports.

            The lathe chip tray is quite long because it's attached to the front edge of the cross slide. The blue Cordura is attached to a tray below it made from aluminium roof flashing. So why the Cordura if there is a sheet metal tray below? That's so I wouldn't snag myself on the edges. And it allowed for the loose extension on the end for sweeping the chips out into the trash without raining them down onto the hand wheel. It was a trial sort of thing that worked well so it's still there instead of just the shorter aluminum tray. It is obviously exposed to hot chips as well as all manner of oil and coolant drips. But the roughly 3 year piece of Cordura you see is holding up well and should last quite a few more years yet.

            This worked so well that a bit later I added the clear cover to pretty well fully protect the cross slide ways from chips. Very little to no chips get in there now. The folds in the clear cover make it harder to see the index marks and I really need to make a flat clear cover to replace the old food saver lid.

            Click image for larger version  Name:	P1040753.jpg Views:	33 Size:	286.7 KB ID:	2011251

            This worked so well that a little while later I made up the front and back covers for the mill as seen in the pictures below. I made the rear cover quite a bit wider than the original to better keep chips out of the ways since the useless soft plastic wipers that came with the machine did absolutely nothing useful.

            Originally the front cover was just a flap. But I got tired of holding it up to see the index wheel. So about 4 to 6 months in I made the attachment plate seen in the picture below and the setup has worked great since then.

            The two covers were made up about 2 years ago now. But I was finding that some chips were still bouncing off the top and landing on the ways behind the covers. This led to the "bib" shown in the last picture that was made up about 3 months ago and has proven to be a great final addition. It literally is a bib like shape and is simply tied together around the back of the column. No more chips have been seen on the ways since then.

            As for wear the Cordura is holding up well. Roughly 2 years and good for at least 2 more from the lack of any erosion. But I don't have red hot chips flying off my machines either. I do get chips that burn if they land on me though. But I don't normally push things hard enough to see blue hot chips. So far no signs of the back coating being melted from them. But if you regularly do jobs with chips that are coming off deeply blue hot then it would likely not be a good option.

            Click image for larger version  Name:	P1040754.jpg Views:	33 Size:	287.0 KB ID:	2011250 Click image for larger version  Name:	P1040755.jpg Views:	33 Size:	269.7 KB ID:	2011249

            Click image for larger version  Name:	P1040756.jpg Views:	33 Size:	246.7 KB ID:	2011248
            Last edited by BCRider; 08-03-2022, 04:15 PM. Reason: Some corrections to a nonsensical sentence in the first paragraph.
            Chilliwack BC, Canada


            • #7
              I have just bought some neoprene sheet for the backs of both mills, 2mm thick, but about 3" wider than the old stuff. I would also like something more crack proof, but it needs to be flexible.


              • #8
                TOO flexible might turn out to be as annoying as too stiff. That Cordura is rugged enough it seems. But it likes to suck onto the end of the vacuum when I clean away the chips. I'm OK with that because the stuff is essentially free. But it is a trifle annoying and results in using various tricks to vacuum the covers free of chips. Mostly I've resorted to blowing them away then sweep them up off the floor afterwards.
                Chilliwack BC, Canada


                • #9
                  +1 for Cordura!
                  When I get Time... I'll...


                  • #10
                    this has been working really well on my little machine.. (it is kinda a sorta copy of a matsuura cover)


                    • #11
                      +1 for flat roof membrane. I got a free remnant about 10' x 4' and made way covers for my mill about 2 years ago that are holding up great. It doesn't seem to be affected much by the cutting oil or WD-40. My wife was able to stitch some strips into an accordion pleat with a normal sewing machine for covering the ways in front of the table and it is stiff enough that it doesn't sag on the edges. It has a black side and white side. I cut a piece to sit under the lathe chuck to protect the ways a little and catch small cut off, and the white side makes a nice background for eyeballing cutter position. I also used double sided tape to hold a piece on the platten of my demagnetizer. It makes dragging tools across it much smoother and quieter, and you can see the chips fall off onto the white surface for later cleanup. I made some wooden tray type table covers that fit either side of the usual vise location on the mill table. They key into the T-slot so I can slide them back without them falling off, and I lined them with the same stuff white side up to protect any tools I have staged in them. Cleans up nice with any of the usual cleaners.

                      "Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself"


                      • #12
                        Working on an article using this bellows material from McM replacing the rubber bellows on my mini mill:


                        I’ve been using this for almost a year and haven’t had any issues.
                        Avid Amateur Home Shop Machinist, Electronics Enthusiast, Chef, Indoorsman. Self-Proclaimed (Dabbler? Dilettante?) Renaissance (old) Man.


                        • #13
                          EPDM sheet, which may be the same material as the roofing membrane as mentioned above. Jim


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jmm03 View Post
                            EPDM sheet, which may be the same material as the roofing membrane as mentioned above. Jim
                            That's what I've been using, going on about two years now. The claims of EPDM degradation of due to cutting oil seem to be greatly exagerrated.
                            Last edited by thin-woodsman; 08-04-2022, 07:16 PM.


                            • #15
                              I gave BBQ heat resistant silicone fabric sheets (I think it was a Robin Renzetti tip) a try last year.

                              Was a bit skeptical how well it would hold up as its quite thin material and was expecting the edges to fray after cutting to size, but one year on looks as good as new, easily outlasting the rubber it replaced.