Setting Up a Machine Maintenance Schedule
To help fight the urge to be lazy about maintenance, Bob Miller selects a single day a year to grease and lubricate all of the bearings in the shop.
Grease Day should be a holiday on every woodworker’s calendar. Of course, I am joking about making it a holiday, but only in the slightest sense. Many woodworkers are in it for the woodworking, not for the machine maintenance. This naturally gives rise to woodshops the world over producing beautiful work, while their machines languish in the dark, never getting the maintenance they deserve until it is too late. I see far too many people backed into a corner by deferred maintenance, waiting until a machine fails, having never planned time for maintenance but rather waiting for the maintenance to force their hand. We all know that the shop gods are cruel, so it can be safely assumed that if a machine is going to fail, it is going to fail right in the middle of a job and without warning.
Set a schedule
To help fight the urge to be lazy about maintenance, I find that selecting a single day on which I grease and lubricate all of the bearings in the shop allows me to make sure that I cover all of my machines without forgetting any of them. It also ensures that I don’t do it too frequently.
Don’t overdo it!
A common misconception regarding grease in bearings is that there is no such thing as “too much.” This could not be further from the truth. Over greasing can be just as bad as under greasing or not greasing at all (gasp). In a typical woodshop, once a year is plenty for greasing, any more and you risk driving grease right past the bearing and into places it should not be, such as the windings of a motor or the cabinets of the machine or worse, spilling into your work. In my shop, I have a variety of older woodworking machinery, and in my time maintaining it I have opened up several motors to find them simply PACKED with funky, dried-out old grease. A motor packed full of grease is a fire hazard and is ripe for failure. The grease can damage the insulation on the wiring inside the motor and cause premature failure when the motor shorts out. Cleaning out these clumps of grease is a nasty, time-consuming task that can be easily avoided by simply maintaining a schedule for greasing and sticking to it.
So take some time to look around your shop, and see what kind of maintenance needs to be done. If you cannot remember the last time you showed a little love to the machines, you should probably think about doing it soon before the machines demand it of you. Do you have a set schedule for maintenance in your shop? If so, share it in the comments below.
*If you want to get a glimpse into Bob’s last “Grease Day,” check out this highlights reel on his Instagram page.
NOVEMBER 7, 2018