Lubricating a Sliding Table Saw

Views on how to stop a slider from squeaking. December 10, 2007

I've been fighting a noisy, squeaky, shrieking sliding table saw for about a year, and it's time I got this thing taken care of. It's a Minimax CU-410E combination machine, and the noise is coming from where the bearings contact the carriage. It's a metal-on-metal contact (and of course the design has been refined since I bought my machine), and worked well for about two years until I started using it daily. I've replaced the roller bearings with a new set, and disassembled and cleaned the whole mess no less than half a dozen times. On the advice of a local metallurgist, I first tried molybdenum disulfide (or sulfate, can't remember), which left a black, sticky mess. Cleaned it, tried Teflon spray, and that worked for a few days, but it was messy and gummed up with sawdust. Cleaned again, tried paste wax, with little effect. I've been thinking about silicone lubricant. Any ideas?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
Never use any silicone based products anywhere in a wood shop. It is the #1 contaminant in finishing wood products.

From the original questioner:
I knew someone was going to bring that up. Think about it, though: the silicone would be applied to the internal bearing surfaces of a sliding table, not on a surface that wood passes over. We all use oil, grease and cleaners and other finish-unfriendly substances to make our various and sundry machines do their job. How is silicone different? Unless it somehow atomizes and wafts through the air, I can't see how it could contaminate anything.

From contributor M:
Does your saw have eccentric bearing mounts for your sliding table? Maybe they are turned so the table is dragging slightly. My saw has a set of rollers and as the table is pulled back, the outer roller bearings come in contact with the bottom carriage and start rolling approximately 50 cm from its end. The central pair come into contact with the bottom carriage just before and release just after they pass the main table. I would not think you should need any grease at all, but not being familiar with SCM, I could be wrong.

From contributor G:
I use White Lightning on my bicycle chain. It is dry and doesn't attract foreign material. Check at the local bike shop.

From contributor J:
I have a KS3000 slider (10'). It has two matching hardened v-groove style (self cleaning) runners with ball bearing between them. A couple of times a month I wipe them clean and re-oil them. The best oil I have found is the same stuff Castle tool sells for its gand drills. It has slick 50 or something like that in it. It's a little heavier than nail gun oil. Okay, don't laugh too hard. I've had this saw for 20 years, and I'm not showing any wear on my slider. It's as tight as it was when I bought it new. The trick is not to use an air blow gun under there to clear out dust. You'll blow dust into the bearings, and things kind of crunch for awhile. The nice thing about this saw is the v-groove, as it's self cleaning. I believe Martin has a similar setup. SCM has a round shape and packs dust (from what I've heard). I wouldn't use dry lube on my saw - save that stuff for your motorcycle chain and then see if your chain lasts more than 200 miles. 20 years - that stands for something. This is what was recommended by the dealer.

From contributor R:
I bought a brand new Lazzari Tema 3200 a year ago. It seems to have the exact same slider type, judging from your picture. It also has the same very annoying squeaking, squealing table since it was new. The dealer's tech was useless in trying to fix it. I too have not been able to solve this problem. Tried to coat, but it starts squeaking within an hour of use.

From contributor P:
"V" groove slide carriages can squeak from wear/friction or being out of adjustment. Nothing should be touching except the steel balls that the carriage rides on. First thing to check is that nothing is dragging. If there is something dragging, you should see a visible trail on the sub-carriage. Once you determine this is not the problem, then try step #2.

Slide the carriage to one end and move from side to side. How much side play do you see? Does it feel excessively loose? The fact is a little play at this point is normal. You don't want the carriage so tight that it takes a horse to pull it. Sliding carriages support weight in a downward direction and not side to side, as some at the shows would have you believe.

Every "V" groove carriage has one side that is adjustable. It's that push the "V" over method. If your carriage has lost its correct adjustment, the balls are not seated into the "V" top and bottom. You will probably notice much more wear on the bottom "V" than on the top. Normal wear has caused the looseness in the slide, the friction and the squeak.

There will come a day, as with all things, when the "V" and the balls will need to be replaced. This should not be the case after just a few years. The gentleman who just purchased a new saw and has the squeak has an adjustment problem.

Always use a dry lube. There have been many good suggestion, but remember that sawdust and roller bearings do not mix. Keep it lubed with dry lube.

From contributor L:
We have an SCM SL16 bought new in '87. It was run two shifts a day for several years before I bought a Schelling. Now the SCM is still used quite a bit. It has the balls that ride in a curved V track. For the last 20 years we've lubed the track with a light coat of oil. No problems with sawdust buildup and it will run quiet and smooth for a month. The carriage is still tight and runs very nicely.

From contributor J:
The "V" groove slide carriages are hardened steel. The ball bearings are slightly softer. The wear is on the ball bearings. When worn, the bearing will need replacement. Use a good oil, don't mess with the dry lube. I've had 20 years of very hard use on my saw without any problems. Don't buy into the dry lube idea unless an engineer will support it. Call the factory or a rep that knows what he's talking about. If you're going to try dry lube, why not try beeswax or an old candle, or maybe WD40, or maybe some olive oil? If you don't have this system, don't bother with our advice.

From the original questioner:
Well, mine arse on a bandbox! I have to admit, it never ceases to amaze me the variety of opinions to be found here. I've tried using nothing, I've tried Teflon, Chromium Disulfide, Trewax and Mold Release for dry lubes, so I think I'm done experimenting with them. I put on a light coat of oil yesterday and it's shut itself up for the time being, with no ill effects thus far. The moral of the story is apparently, different lubes for different dudes. Thanks for your suggestions, everyone. And Minimax had no advice whatsoever, except for the immensely helpful "it's not supposed to do that. If you fix it, let us know."