Cutting Oils for Rock Saws

I am writing this article as a response to some concerns that I have regarding information mentioned in articles in the magazines that tell about different ways to save on some of the money you use for your rock equipment and materials. One such article was about using saws with water or oil that will mix with water.

I would like to mention some of the experiences that I have had with this. I've worked with and used different kinds of oils with the saw trying to find the most economical way with oil myself to cut down on the cost. Some information I've read told me you could use anti-freeze, you could use just plain water, light oils, water-soluble oil, diesel fuel, transformer oil, or deodorized kerosene.

In using these products you have to consider the flash point of the oil you use. As you cut quartz or other hard material there is a steady stream of sparks (of flame) from the rock you are cutting and those sparks can cause a fire to start if the flash point in the oil is too high. You want the oil you use to have a low flash point so that is why you should use oil made especially for rock cutting. The oil will also lubricate your bearings for a longer life. Your major oil companies carry one you can buy (Texaco Alamag)(Shell Dialax). You will be money ahead to use this oil. The oils have a very small amount of mist or fumes that goes into the air and if you breathe the fumes it will cause you to have lung trouble. You can wear a mask that can protect you from the fumes.

But one of the things that really needs to be brought to your attention on those just starting out and using new equipment and saws is what kind of bearing do you have in the saw? Saws used to have bushings in them but most of your saws that are more recent have steel bearings in them and when you use this water or a mixture of soluble oils, they have a tendency to freeze the bearings up and you will not be able to use them like you should. When it freezes the bearing that means it stops it so the bearing won't turn.

If they freeze up on you, you'll have to replace all of your bearings or ball bearings. Most of them will run you around $10.00 each and you may have 5 or 6 of these at least so be careful and thoughtful when you try to use water soluble oils or just plain water or anti-freeze. Now if you have a bushing as your bearing, you can tell that by the fact that there is a little holder that will have red brass or some kind of Babbit lining the inside where your shaft goes on your saw blade. Then you can use your plain water but be aware that if the bearings are selaed, the bearings might eventually still get a little moisture in them if you are using water and you'll ruin all the bearings. There are many different sizes of bearings in your saw. They can rust even with a small amount of water over time. In today's world, they do use nylon bushings in some of the tumblers. Use an oil that is made for what you are doing so you won't be sorry.


Homer Whitlock