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I Forge Iron

Cutting oils/fluids


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Lard was used for many years as a cutting oil for lathes,
drillpresses, taps and dies.
Bacon grease will also work.
Peanut oil will work for cutting fluid.
Kerosene will work as a coolant.(be aware of fire hazard)
Milk will give a nice finish on copper when used as a cutting fluid.
Old solvent (that has been strained through a paint filter)
works good on alum.& mild steel as a coolant.(be aware of fire hazard)
Crisco works well in about all tapping situations.


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Never, ever use motor oil! If oil was so good as a cutting fluid, it would never have been used to inhibit friction in engines. I use water or the non-flammable brake-cleen as a coolant. Also makes the iron ready for paint, or if it has to back in the fire, there isn't a foul smell or smoke.

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WD40 also works well on aluminum but plain old water is pretty good on almost anything. A very small amount of emulsifable oil makes it slicker, which is why most of the modern coolant "brews" are nothing more than oil suspensions that can be added to water. I have about three gallons of Cincinnatti's proprietary concentrate but it's a 30:1 recipe - 90 gallons of mix would serve my great-grandkids... :o

I still use unsalted lard for tapping and threading on the lathe but bacon grease has salt and will eventually rust your work if you don't take the time to clean it.

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