The Studio – Jewelry Blog by Rio Grande

Foredom Flex-Shaft Maintenance

Nov 17, 2010
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The idea of performing maintenance on a flex shaft may seem overwhelming. Here are some guidelines about when, why, and how you can keep your Foredom Flex Shaft in tip-top condition and enjoy it for years to come.

  1. The first and most important rule to remember when performing routine maintenance is to ALWAYS unplug the Foredom. If you have long hair be sure to pull it back securely.
  2. Although the motor does not need lubrication, it does need to have dust and debris removed. This is easily done with some canned air. Canned-air dusting should be done about every 40 hours of use. If your studio produces a lot of dust, you may need to do this more frequently.
  3. Check motor brushes for wear. Replacing the brushes will maintain the torque efficiency of the motor. Each brush measures 3/4” and should be replaced when worn down to 1/4". Even if only one is worn, both brushes should always be replaced at once. Unscrew the brush caps on the motor and simply replace both brushes.
  4. After 40-50 hours of use, the shaft itself should be re-greased. (Only duplex spring and hammering hand pieces need lubrication). The others have permanently lubricated ball bearings. Use high-quality white lubricating grease if you don't have flex-shaft grease. When greasing the shaft, be careful not to apply grease too close to the tip, because you don't want grease to drip into the hand piece.
  • Remove the hand piece.
  • Remove the screw at the top of the shaft.
  • Check condition of sheath. If it is worn, it will need to be replaced.
  • Remove sheath from shaft by sliding it off.
  • Apply light coating of grease to the shaft, leaving about 4 inches ungreased at the bottom.
  • Replace the sheath leaving 1 inch of the shaft key tip extended.
  • Re-tighten the screw.
  • Hang the shaft.
  • Plug it in and let the motor run for about 10 minutes prior to re-attaching the handpiece, to allow excess grease to drip off.
  • NEVER RUN MOTOR WITH OUTER SHEATH REMOVED—this could be dangerous.
  • Wipe off excess grease.
  • Re-attach hand piece and...

VIOLA! Your flex-shaft is as good as new.

After 200 hours of use, clean the shaft with a solvent such as paint thinner prior to re-greasing it. Remove the shaft by unscrewing the motor coupling from the motor shaft and soak it in the solvent. Then scrub it with a toothbrush to remove dust and debris. Lay it on newspaper to dry and be sure it's completely dry prior to re-lubrication.

Keeping your Foredom flex shaft clean and maintained will become easier each time you do it. Dirt and debris are the biggest causes of motor wear and electrical shortage of the flex shaft. The good news: Flex shafts can last up to 30 years if they are well maintained.

Here are some excellent video demonstrations from Foredom’s website for those of us who prefer visual and auditory instructions:

Foredom Maintenance Videos (the last two links on Foredom’s website are directly related to these instructions)

Thank you and long live your flex shaft!

Sources:

Making the Most of Your Flex-shaft by Karen Christians

The Ultimate Jeweler's Guide: The Illustrated Reference of Techniques, Tools, & Materials

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