Cleaning Tool Holders

Tips on routine cleaning for CNC tool holders. October 27, 2008

What is the proper way to clean tool holders? We currently just blow out the cone, threads, nut, and collet and wipe everything the best we can with a rag. I've heard of some people scrubbing the collet and cone with steel wool but it seems to me that doing this time after time all day and everyday would wear down the metal thus changing the very absolute dimensions that these things are manufactured to. Would it be advisable to wipe our tool holders down with mineral spirits or something of that nature after we blow them off with compressed air? We do, by the way, use one of those cone cleaner what-ya-macallits to clean out the cone in the spindle.

Forum Responses
(CNC Forum)
From contributor R:
I used to operate a Holzher CNC and the tech recommended blowing out each holder with compressed air and then spraying it with LPS-1 (available at Grainger or auto stores). Then wipe each one with a clean cloth. LPS-1 doesn't attract dust like WD40 does and it's a good cleaner/lube for dusty environments. Use the same procedure for cleaning the clamping mechanism in the router head.

From contributor E:
Use a citrus cleaner; it cleans oils and grime well, and does not leave behind any residue. It also evaporates fairly quickly.

From contributor B:
I use a brass brush to clean the collets and nuts of dust and dirt that sticks on. It sort of looks like a toothbrush but has brass bristles. It won't change your tolerances or affect your finish. That with compressed air gets 'em quite clean.

From contributor T:
Contributor B is right about the brass bristled brushes. There are even round ones available for cleaning collets and such. You should never use steel wool on precision tooling. If you have any pitch buildup on the parts you should use a wood pitch remover. Preferably not the stuff that is like oven cleaner. There are a couple of different products out there like the CMT wood pitch remover that are non-caustic and safe to use. As far as lubricants go, you should be careful of what you use. Many metal protecting lubricants contain materials that can damage wood by leaving spots or inhibiting adhesion of adhesives and finishes. A good product to use is the Woodworkers Dry Lube. It is a spray lubricant that will not damage wood if it gets on your products.