I've recently purchased a mini metal lathe. I've finished unpacking it and I've noticed that it's come coated in Cosmoline or some other packing grease like another of my tools. In the past I've just wiped the tool down with paper towels but given this was a slightly more expensive purchase I'm wondering what the proper way to handle this is? I've read that Kerosine based WD-40 is good for removing it, is that true? Is there anything that I should put on it instead that will still protect it while allowing me to use it and not affect work?

  • Off topic Karoly! Please don't treat SE like a regular forum.
    – Graphus
    Commented Mar 2, 2020 at 6:31
  • @Graphus How is this off topic? Metal Lathes are usable for woodworking as well, not to mention this is something that affects woodworking tools as well which I feel like is fairly relevant? Tool preparation and care is important and people's expertise is super helpful for that sort of thing...
    – Karoly S
    Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 7:43
  • 1
    You describe it as a metalworking lathe, this by definition makes the Question off topic. We've had similar Qs in the past closed for the same reason, and we need to remain consistent.
    – Graphus
    Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 8:10
  • If closed I'm sure this would be welcome on Engineering.
    – feetwet
    Commented Mar 6, 2020 at 21:11

1 Answer 1


Just about any grease or petroleum removal liquid will do a decent job of cleaning the ways and other contact parts. The key aspect of this cleaning process is to lubricate and protect those surfaces once the gunky sticky preservative is removed. Straight kerosene will work just as well as expensive WD-40.

There are a number of lubricants well suited for lubricating the ways. You want something that will protect from rust, but not collect dust and dirt and debris. I'm a big fan of Boeshield T-9, a wax based lubricant in a solvent. It's a supreme rust protector and a very slippery lubricant. Debris brushes off easily.

You'll also benefit from checking the 'net for unpacking videos for your lathe. Frank Hoose may be the best producer of valuable mini-lathe information, including how to unpack, clean and tune your machine.

The above link has multiple levels, including a link to his great YouTube videos.

Frank Hoose Minilathe

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