In Shop Blog

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There are a few things I keep at arm’s reach in the shop: an oily rag, some paraffin and a small sewing can oiler. Shown in the photo above are the four that I could gather in just a few minutes. I have at least four more around the shop.

These incredibly cheap oilers keep my tools in good condition. I oil the moving parts of my handplanes. The adjustment screws of my machines (especially my band saw). The adjustment nuts of my combination squares. Anything that screws or moves gets a drop of oil. Any excess oil on the tool then gets rubbed into the metal surfaces. It’s one of the reasons I don’t have a problem with rust.

I’m sure you can buy new oilers. Heck I’ve seen plastic ones. But they were such a common household item that you can pick them up in almost any antique store for $5 to $20 – I usually pay about $10.

Their biggest defect is they leak. If you are buying them in person, take them into the bathroom and fill them with a little water. You’ll know in a minute or two if the seam is leaky.

Even if you do buy a leaky one, the repair is easy with a little epoxy. First find the seam that’s leaking – it’s almost always in the base of the oiler. Mix up a little epoxy and push it into the seam all around the oiler. That fixes almost all problems.

Then fill the oiler with your favorite oil – jojoba, camellia, mineral, olive or 3-in-1. All the oils work (and no, they don’t interfere with finishing).

To start searching for an oiler, check out this link on ebay.


  • To read past entries from this guide (and from former years), click here.



Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

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  • bmack9810

    I bought a new, made in Nebraska USA oilcan from Amazon. Filled with mineral oil it will be used on my soft Arkansas stone, 2 cast iron plates for diamond paste sharpening, and my planes. Great suggestion- thanks.

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