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Cutting lubricant versus lung health

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  • Cutting lubricant versus lung health

    I'm definitely in the hobbyist realm of machinist. I don't typically do any high volume work and the exceptions are usually very simple things like spacers or bushings that don't require a fine finish cut.

    My concern is that when I use a cutting lubricant, even just a touch here and there, the mist produced is enough to irritate my lungs, which are in general more prone to irritation than for the average person.

    I'd like to know better what the tradeoff's are cutting "dry" versus with cutting lubricant.

    Since I typically do one of a kind projects, I can afford spending more time using less agressive feeds. Most of what I do does not require any greater precision than say within a few thousandths. In cases where I need a high precision fit, I can use scraping, etc.

    If I can get by with just dry cuts, that would be my preference, with only occational use of cutting fluid where a project requires it (where I can wear a respirator and cross ventilation for the room). I use replaceable cutting tool bits for turning, which are reasonably cheap to replace, expecially at the low rate of work I do.

    I've also considered using flexible aluminum duct and a squirrel-cage fan to ventilate the mist, but I don't see how to avoid build up of oil film in the duct and on the fan over time, which I would think would be a pain in the butt to clean and a fire hazard. Filters would help, but I'm guessing they would also create a fire hazard and would need to be replaced frequently and might cost more that replacing cutting tools.

    Any advice?

    Bill Gaylord

  • #2
    I just dribble rapidtap right on the work, No mist, very little oil slung off except at really high SFM, only smokes when I take excessive cuts.

    Aluminum likes to stick to tools without lube and then it trys to cut itself with the buildup, producing an undersized part with the worst surface finish imaginable.

    lube also helps steel get a decent finish, though its still hard as hell with mild steel to get a decent finish. seems less likey to stick then aluminum.
    Play Brutal Nature, Black Moons free to play highly realistic voxel sandbox game.


    • #3
      If your using carbide and cutting steel it's fine to cut dry, for carbide it's more important to have high suface feet per minute for a good finish. There are lots of charts that will tell you the right speed for the cutter and material but for the most part I just go by the color of the chips, golden ok for hss and blue for carbide.


      • #4
        Are you irritated by similar fumes when cooking? If so, what do you do about it? If not, switch to using natural cutting fluids such as bacon grease, lard, vegetable oil, and so on.


        • #5
          What exactly are you using?


          • #6
            I recommend virgins blood but it's a bit hard to fine these days, I think Forrest had the last in the US ?

            Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.


            • #7
              It's certainly something to think about. One time I was turning aluminum using kerosene as a coolant/lube. Chips and smoke were rolling off the work in fine fashion, when after about half an hour I suddenly realized I had a pounding headache. So I can tell you from experience that kerosene smoke is NOT a good thing to breathe for long periods.

              Now I generally use generic "cutting oil" and try to slather on enough so it doesn't smoke. If it does smoke, I turn on a fan to blow the smoke away from the lathe. At some point it would fill up the basement, I suppose, but I've never worked that long on the lathe at a single stretch.
              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


              • #8
                Steels can be cut dry, especially with carbide.

                Aluminum, on the other hand, needs something. We use the Aluminum Rapid Tap cutting fluid at work and is pretty safe. Though I hope you like cinnamon.

                I use koolmist or Tricool TC1 at home and work for the sprayers. Works well.


                • #9
                  Cleaning or replacing a filter is easy compared to putting up with something that's affecting your health. Build yourself a shallow cabinet with computer fans on the back side and a wire screen on the front to lay a filter blanket against. At the very least, running the fans should keep most of the vapors drifting away from your face. The air won't be moving very fast, so the filter should catch most of the vapors before the air is blown out the back. A 12v, 500 ma adapter will easily run 4 or more typical computer power supply type fans, which you can probably get pretty cheaply, and you could leave it running for fairly long periods of time without becoming annoyed by noise.

                  Just place it where it will do the most good, and check on it once in a while. It won't exhaust outside, but if it pulls the semi-toxic air away from you, it will be an improvement. It will also remove some of the dust from room air. You might wash the filter blanket, or just toss it.

                  This is a low tech, low cost approach that will do some good. If you need a better solution you will have to spend some real dough.
                  I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-


                  • #10
                    Hold your breath, seriously, I have some lung disease and when I dont like the atmosphere I hold my breath, then go a few meters away to get another breath if I want to stay . or move on if I dont.

                    Some of the other ideas are pretty good too.
                    My neighbours diary says I have boundary issues


                    • #11
                      Go Dry

                      If you are not trying to make a living with your machining then slow down and go dry. A properly sharpened HSS cutter and no lubricant works with steel, aluminum and brass.
                      If I am looking for a premium finish, I use thread cutting oil and a paint brush for steel. For Aluminum I prefer A9 in small quantities. If you are getting smoke you need to play with sharpening tecniques and speed/feed issues.

                      If it is your living not your hobby, then flood coolant, mist coolant or whatever it takes to run balls out.


                      • #12
                        I'd be very cautious about using unrefrigerated food grease as a cutting lubricant. You always get nicks, cuts, slivers while working with metal. Combine that with say rancid bacon grease? Your little wounds could and would go septic, Untreated that would kill you far faster than any lung problem.

                        Animal fats do work very well for cutting metal. But add up all the salt and other chemicals in your average package of bacon. Do you really want that rusting your parts and equipment? I do use and would highly recommend pure cooking lard for reaming that's kept refrigerated except while your using it. I stole that idea from one of Guy Latourds books. Other than pure lard most of those snake oil concoctions from the old days have been totally improved on by off the shelf items. That doesn't help the OP but more than one person gets ideas from reading forum posts.



                        • #13
                          I too, am just a hobbiest, and almost everything I turn is done dry. If it's really important, I'll turn on the mist coolant.
                          I'd rather sharpen my toolbits or change inserts a little more often than than turn on the mister, but most times I'm not in a hurry or rushed to get the job done.
                          But if i'm really in a hurry or the finish is really important I'll turn on the coolant and a house fan setup to blow the mist away from me.
                          The one exception would be working cast iron, It dosen't need the coolant, but it keeps the dust down, and it still gets everywhere, including your lungs.
                          I cut it twice, and it's still too short!


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by williamgaylord
                            I've also considered using flexible aluminum duct and a squirrel-cage fan to ventilate the mist, but I don't see how to avoid build up of oil film in the duct and on the fan over time, which I would think would be a pain in the butt to clean and a fire hazard.
                            Good ventilation is your best bet. Use flexible clothes drier duct if it gets really dirty, which I suspect will take quit awhile, they are cheap enough to just throw out and replace.

                            Use cutting fluid sparingly, it is not necessary to flood the work piece.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by BobL
                              What exactly are you using?

                              if mist is the issue, you may be using the wrong unit to deliver coolant....but we really don't know 100% what you mean by mist.....if it is a mist, you're probably using a cheapo mister. They'll fog the air, the cheap ones do not or at least aren't supposed.

                              I use flood on most machines, but also have some of those atomizer bottles (get them at garden supply) and squirt coolant on that way. no issue with mist with either of those approaches

                              please give more info on what coolant, and how exactly its applied use what type of mister