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Trim saw lubricants?


In regards to trim saw lubricants, this maybe a stupid question, but
instead of motor oil why not use vegetable oil? The flash points are
higher for vegetable, about 425-470degrees F for sunflower or soybean
versus 400-425 for motor oil or 90degrees for kerosene.There is no
smell or chemicals to worry about, its reasonably inexpensive, and
you don’t have to worry about rust, as with water additives. It
sounds good to me, is there a downside? Thanks a lot Adam


Hi, Adam-

By all reports, you would be well-advised not to use soybean oil.
Soybean oil tends to harden into a tenacious, gummy substance which
would soon force you to spend many an unhappy hour tearing down your
unit and cleaning the gunk from your bearings, etc. There was a
recent article in Rock and Gem which strongly recommended the oil
produced for cooling transformers as a saw lubricant. Apparently the
new stuff does not contain PCBs or other toxic chemicals and does
not have the offensive smell of Almeg oil.

Lee Einer



One problem with using veggie oils is they tend to congeal when
subjected to heat and they become a messy slurry with gooked up with
kerf residue as the blade takes it from the stone. As the stone is
cut, the surface of the blade becomes very hot (you may even see
sparks of light). This breaks down the oil and lessens what little
lubrication qualities the oil had to begin with. I hate motor oil
also as it can also become quite messy though it does retain its
lubrication qualities for a long time. I have never heard of the
flash point being a consideration. In nearly 30 years I can’t
remember hearing of anyone blowing up their saw because of using
motor oil, diesel, or kerosene. The Pres of our G&M Society says he
can’t either and he has been cutting for nearly 50 years. Seems the
sparks of light are quickly and constantly ‘drowned’ by the plethora
of lub that is constantly thrown onto the blade and stone. Anyone
else out there prove this to be incorrect?

Water does quite well for saws below 9 inches but, if you must use a
lubricant, I highly recommend Pella or Almag even though they are a
bit expensive. The are both water soluable so the stones can be
easily and quickly washed clean (as can your clothes if you get any
oil on them which I always seem wont to do!). Also, while you should
wear a face mask when sawing with any oil because of the fine mist
caused as the blade throws it onto the surface of the stone, these
two being water soluable, are less likely to damage your body. Motor
oil is not a good thing to ingest on the other hand.

I make it a habit that when finished with my trim saws, I drain them
down and simply give each side of the blade a short spray of WD-40 or
other inhibitor. That stops the rust.


Adam - There is no inherent reason why you cannot use vegetable
oils, per se. The difficulty is in what happens to the oil after a
little use; it degrades somewhat, and starts turning to gum on the
interior parts of the saw box. Rather than deal with this many
lapidaries use food-grade hydraulic oil, others use the special
antifreeze for recreational vehicles, yet others use water or a
water/lubricant mix for trimming. While it was once common for folks
to use motor oil, or a mix of motor oil and kerosene I’ve never seen
it done in the last four decades. Even slab sawing doesn’t get done
with motor oil any longer. I hope that you can find a lubricant
which does the job without too many hassles.

Jim Small
Small Wonders


Yes, there is a downside, and the cutter generally finds it when the
oil goes rancid. Also it is much more “gummy” than the standard
oils, and with some will clot up a bit.

Richard, In warming ): Michigan


Diamond Pacific and other companies sell and or can locate, a 5 to
10 weight food grade mineral oil… It is still a petroleum product,
albeit a highly refined one and supposedly containing only a small
amount of chemicals and their odorous fumes

Trim sawing, with blades up to 10 inches, should have little to NO
real problems in cutting, with 100% water alone as a lubricant…

Purchase a good blade which can be used in water MK 303, etc, there
are many good blades available for trim sawing in water alone.

Even with water alone cutting, it is very important to wear a mask
to protect not only your lung health, but your overall health as
well ! With oil trim sawing, wear an OSHA approved mask for oil
mists !!!



Yes, Adam. A big downside: it really gums up the works! Leaves a
gooey coating on the machinery that is very difficult to remove!