Anarchist’s 2017 Gift Guide, Day 7: Sewing Machine Oilcans | Popular Woodworking Magazine
 In Chris Schwarz Blog, Woodworking Blogs

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.


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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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