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The use of emery cloth on metalworking lathes

A tool post is used to clamp and hold a looped strip of emery cloth in place during application.

Every year there are serious accidents involving the use of emery cloth on metalworking lathes, resulting in injuries such as broken bones, dislocations, lacerations, amputations and occasionally death.

Emery cloth is often used to deburr, polish or size a wide range of cylindrical, tapered and threaded metal components while they are held in the rotating chuck jaws of a lathe. Accidents occur when hand-held emery cloth is entangled in the rotating parts of the machine or where the emery cloth is snagged on the rotating component dragging the operator into the danger zone.

Acceptable and unacceptable methods of use

Where your risk assessment has determined that the most practicable method of polishing, deburring or sizing your components is by use of emery cloth on manual metal working lathes then one of the following methods need to be used.

Acceptable methods

External work

The method in the video below uses a strip of emery cloth which is formed into a loop and clamped into a holding device attached to the tool post. This method is for external work only. This is one of the safest ways to use emery cloth on a manual metal working lathe.

Internal work

The technique in the video below requires the emery cloth to be wrapped around the holding device which is held in a boring bar holder in the tool post. This method is simple to set up and significantly reduces the risk.

Unacceptable methods

It is never acceptable to apply emery cloth directly by hand on a rotating CNC or manual metal working machine.

Holding strips of emery cloth wrapped around a rotating component is dangerous practice and may result in serious injury or even death.

Further information

More detailed guidance is available in the engineering information sheet EIS2.

Updated 2016-02-24