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Unread 02-20-2009, 03:41 PM   #1
Unlimited04
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Drilling, Taping and Machining with Coconut Oil

So I took a class on machining and figured I'd share some cool information. In the machine shop I've got access to we use nothing but coconut oil for machining, drilling, taping or cutting of metals. Coconut oil is a solid paste until about 95-97* F, so every machine has a little cup with a modeling paintbrush. You then use the paintbrush to apply solid paste coconut oil to the part or drill bit before starting the machine. You then start drilling, cutting, milling or whatever, and the friction from the metal and the cutting tool then heats up the coconut oil to a liquid. You can then apply more as necessary with the modeling paintbrush. A incandescent work light over the working area will also melt the coconut oil in the cup. Steel, brass, stainless steel, aluminum - it works GREAT!

Hopefully you fab guys can save some money with this

The good part: no smell or odor, inexpensive, non-toxic, environmentally friendly, washes off with soap and water and lubricates GREAT!

The bad part: coconut oil is a plasticizer so it deteriorates natural rubbers (like vegetable oil).

Heres some pics of coconut oil in action:




I used it to make this (its a roll bar clamp that my GPS will mount to):


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Unread 02-20-2009, 06:21 PM   #2
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Cool... I'm gonna have to give that a try. The synthetic stuff I use is about $35gal. I dilute it down pretty good but if I can use coconut oil... all the better.
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Unread 02-21-2009, 11:38 AM   #3
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I have some old machinist books and one popular cutting lube was bacon lard. The problem with any organic cutting lube is rancidity, if you don't clean your machine thoroughly, pretty soon the shop smells like a garbage dump.
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Unread 02-21-2009, 04:26 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Smtty58 View Post
I have some old machinist books and one popular cutting lube was bacon lard. The problem with any organic cutting lube is rancidity, if you don't clean your machine thoroughly, pretty soon the shop smells like a garbage dump.
im sure bacon lard would smell bad. coconut oil on the other hand has zero smell. the machine shop I took those pictures in is a teaching shop, with 7 or 8 lathes, 8 or 9 mills (one is X-Y CNC), and all have been using coconut oil for many years without issue.
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Unread 02-21-2009, 05:17 PM   #5
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I'll just hose everything down with Coppertone.... I can slather some on my face before "tacking" to keep from getting sunburned..
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Unread 03-12-2009, 08:36 AM   #6
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hey BESRK, did you get a chance to test the coconut oil out?
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Unread 03-12-2009, 02:46 PM   #7
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hey BESRK, did you get a chance to test the coconut oil out?
Not yet... I've still got a full gallon of the "synthetic lubricant" that cost me $40.. I'll scrape out every drop of that, then try some coco oil..
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Unread 03-12-2009, 04:53 PM   #8
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so... there is no worry of the coconut oil becoming a solid again down in the cracks of the machine and building up over time? Just asking. Seems like it could be hard to clean up once it cools back down.
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Unread 03-12-2009, 06:11 PM   #9
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so... there is no worry of the coconut oil becoming a solid again down in the cracks of the machine and building up over time? Just asking. Seems like it could be hard to clean up once it cools back down.
well you wouldn't put it in the pan or reservoir, because it will turn into a solid and gum things up. You just paint it on with a modeling paint brush from a small cup while the part is in process. You don't need to apply a ton or spray oil at it. It doesn't really drip or run. Once the oil drops off the part it pretty much turns back into a solid, so it will just stick to the metal shavings, sides of the machine and grease up sides of the catch pan a little. You get some clumps, but they clean up very easy with a dry rag. If you're really worried about the solid greasy film it leaves behind, you can use a wet rag to clean it up - coconut oil is water soluble.

Basically the machines that have been 'converted' to coconut oil don't use the oil reservoir or pumps at all (you can plug them off if you like). You just paint the part as necessary, most of the time you gotta stand there to adjust things and watch anyway. I'd say give it a try by filling a small cup with solid coconut oil, it has a similar consistency of butter. Use a small modeling paintbrush to apply the butter to a scrap piece of aluminum and take some small cuts. See if it works for you It would definitely work on a drill press or in hand drilling without skipping a beat, it cleans off with dish soap & hot water so tool cleaning and part clean is super easy. A compressed air hose dries the part in seconds.

Apparently coconut oil was used by the Japanese manufacturing sector in WW2. The war effort wanted to save sulfur based oils for fuel and engine/gear oil, so they used coconut oil for machining. It might not work in a fully automated CNC without some heating mods, but for the average hand operated lathe, mill, drill press, etc it works great. Perfect for a hobbiest IMO.

SAFETY EDIT: watch where you put the modeling paintbrush in this painting process!!! its really easy to cut the bristles off, or grab the brush and drag it into the cutting process (or your hand/finger). because the cutting bit/tool is hot, you can apply it to the top of the bit (or part) away from danger and let the melting oil drip into the action. I wish I could take a video of it...

Last edited by Unlimited04; 03-12-2009 at 06:29 PM..
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Unread 03-12-2009, 06:38 PM   #10
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like for example...it the above pic with the part on the lathe - when turning the radius down, I applied coconut paste to the top of the part, so it was pulled into the cutting tool as a solid. When drilling the center hole, I turned the flutes of the drill bit so that there was a flat facing upward. This allowed me to put solid coc oil on the flute and it would melt and drip into the cutting area. I did stop the lathe about halfway through the part, pulled the chuck back and removed the small shavings and packed some solid oil inside the hole. It melted immediately, and I stuck the chuck back in and drilled the remaining depth.
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Unread 03-13-2009, 12:05 PM   #11
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So where do you get coconut oil?
I'm about out of cutting wax.

Enjoy!
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Unread 03-13-2009, 04:48 PM   #12
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I've used the Coconut paste before. It works well, but the main problem I found with it is once the smell fills the shop everyone just wants to listen to Jimmy Buffet records and drink Margaritas. Nobody wants to wear proper safety equipment either, just Ray Bans, cut-offs and Hawaiian shirts.
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Unread 03-13-2009, 06:26 PM   #13
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Where's a good place to get this stuff?.. Summer is coming soon.. I want to be ready!

No.. seriously though.. where do I get it?
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Unread 03-13-2009, 07:30 PM   #14
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you can get 15-20oz containers at almost any organic health/food/vitamin store locally for ~$5-7. your local grocery store may even have it. if you can't find it anywhere, you can get it on the internet. Typical google searches throw up hundreds of pages of organic food grade sales. you aren't going to eat it...so you really dont need organic...

Make sure you get a liquid/gel/paste NOT "softgel" pills!

heres a small container for 5 bucks:
http://www.luckyvitamin.com/item/?it...te=google_base
These places have larger containers, including bulk:
http://nutiva.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=23
http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/vi...FRFWagodyVQrqQ
www.ebay.com has a few pages of it too, and seems to be the cheapest.

I don't know anything about these places, I just typed "coconut oil" into google, and pasted a few links. Depending how much lube you normally use, 16oz might get you far. I could have probably made 10+ of those clamps from the 3" OD stock like shown above on 16 oz. All the orange cups in those pictures are about half full of coco oil, and typically only need filled every week or two...and they see use daily. The cup will get a bit dirty with metal chips...but for 5-10 bucks a container, its a lot less spendy than high dollar sulfur based stuff. If you like it and decide to buy in bulk it gets a lot cheaper. I found 5 gallon buckets on ebay for $66.

stole this picture from Ebay, so you know what its supposed to look like:

Last edited by Unlimited04; 03-13-2009 at 07:57 PM..
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Unread 03-14-2009, 12:42 PM   #15
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you dont have to worry about it getting on your hands either. you can just lick your fingers clean.
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