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Way Covers?

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  • Way Covers?

    OK, another newby question.

    Do you recommend using way covers or not. If so, what is the best way to install them? OR, would I be better off, to not use them and repeatedly sweep the chips off the ways?

  • #2
    I use a way cover, frequently just a plank of wood, for swapping chucks, turning cast iron, parting with a hacksaw, flood cooling, slitting, and grinding operations. For everything else I have a vacuum, a bench brush, and felt wipers on the carriage.


    • #3
      I've used newspaper, old magazines or cardboard for lathe way covers. Not high tech but it works. Use it for brass, cast and the usual rusted old mystery metal I run through my lathe.
      I have tools I don't even know I own...


      • #4
        I use paper towels, roll them up and give the grung a fling.


        • #5
          I don't have any permanent setup on my lathe. If I'm turning something really dirty, or doing any grinding in the lathe, I'll put down paper towels held with magnets, or maybe use aluminum foil molded to fit.

          The milling machine doesn't need much. Mine has a piece of rubber the goes from the column to the back of the saddle, to keep chips off the rear of the Y ways.
          Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
          Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
          Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
          There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
          Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
          Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie


          • #6
            take a look at Frank Ford's site ( He has a really good idea there with using neomydium (sp?) magnets as holders for *temporary* way covers. They need to be pulled regularly or they are just swarf and grit hiders.

            Frank uses neoprene as I recall. I found some "vinyl rubber" as they call it at Enco and it claims to be even more petroleum resistant. Neoprene is still somewhat attacked by petroleum.

            I have found that for many uses a piece of this stuff is heavy enough to just drape over the works. I also use the ribbed black viny stair tread material that is available maybe 3' wide and sold by the foot. Its less flexible, but the ribs hold the junk in place while you pick it up and carry it to the trash. It may seem prissy to use stuff like this, but it can actually be a time saver when cleaning up. I made fitted pieces of the stair tread material that fit around my vice on my little mini-mill in the basement shop. No picking junk out of the t-slots.

            Paul Carpenter
            Mapleton, IL


            • #7
              That's right, I do cover the ways of both my lathe and mill, and, yes, more than one machinist has told me I overdo it. In fact, I think I could grind safely with these covers on because I get essentlially no chips at all on the ways when I work. I have done a bit of grinding, but then I use oil soaked newspaper over everything, and toss it after.

              As much as the neoprene is affected by oil, it only makes the stuff drape better, so I haven't tried finding anything else. I even made separate neoprene covers for the covers of all the DRO scales. It took a little while to get used to working with everything covered, but now if I work with covers off, I feel a bit like I'm driving without a seat belt. Every so often I take all the covers off and wash 'em in kerosene or other solvent. They've lasted for about 3 years with no sign of deterioration so far. The wide hanging ones are simply superglued to wood sticks that have neodymium magnets stuck in them to hang by:

              As you can see, I use covers on the table, and covers on the covers:

              In addition to the way covers that came with the mill, I have a wide shroud stuck up on the column that drapes over everyting up to the table. The table has its own cover to keep stuff out of the T-slots and to take the bumps and grinds from wrenches and other tools. Under that one, there's yet another shroud that hangs over the DRO scale in the back of the table, and laps over the big rear shroud. You can just see its edge above handle of the X-crank. Chips never make it through all three levels back there. Since I took this photo, I've added another flattie on top of the front accordion pleated one to make chips fall away easier.

              Cleanup is fast and easy with an airhose at around 35PSI, and I never blow any chips onto the ways if I'm at all careful with the air.

              The lathe is simpler, just a wide sheet that covers the carriage:

              It handles both the X and Z axis, and I hardly ever use the air gun because chips fall away so easily when brushed.


              Frank Ford
              Gryphon Stringed Instruments
              My Home Shop Pages
              Last edited by Frank Ford; 11-06-2007, 12:16 PM.

              Frank Ford


              • #8
                Fan-fold a paper towel or newspaper. Helps it stay put and will 'accordian' as needed.


                • #9
                  Side Note:

                  On that knee mill front way cover, the accordion in Frank's pics, is that the way it's supposed to be mounted? So that it rolls over the near side of the knee. Mine sits flat and, well, "accordions".
                  Master Floor Sweeper


                  • #10
                    Hey West -- welcome to the board! We could use some more engineers here
                    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."


                    • #11
                      Cheap & cheerful

                      Yes that is a milling cutter in the tailstock, used to counterbore some wooden tool handles (bottom of the page here.)

                      What you say & what people hear is not always the same thing.


                      • #12
                        If lathes were meant to have covers on the ways the would come from the factory like that. I have never in my 40 years of machining seen way covers on a lathe . only cnc mills and some foreign mills now days. they make it hard to rake the chips off.
                        Every Mans Work Is A Portrait of Him Self


                        • #13
                          Don't agree with the gainsayers, I use Glass Fiber reinforced Teflon sheet clipped down with small magnets in little plastic bags.
                          Easy On - Easy Off - Easy Cleanup, when you're working with something messy, nasty or both it helps reduce cleanup time and bed wear, the tools are manufactured without covers assuming you'll be using flood coolant.

                          Given the option to have all this crud wiping up & down my ways I clipped on my cover


                          looking under the cover there's a perfectly clean bed with a nice thick film of clean way oil.
                          Is dirty way oil better?
                          Is it better to stop & clean up repeatedly then re-lube rather than avoid contamination in the first place?
                          There's times when covers work & times when you don't need them or they get in the way but I'll keep using the covers for messy jobs thankyou
                          Are we to assume we are to walk everywhere since we don't naturally have wheels under us?
                          Last edited by NickH; 11-06-2007, 08:58 PM.


                          • #14
                            Hi Nick,

                            Nice job!

                            Where did you get the "glass reinforced Teflon sheet"?


                            "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."


                            • #15
                              I found it on ebay, it was this kind of thing