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.