How to oil a tufting gun (and how often you should)

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Tufting guns are incredible machines, but there’s some basic maintenance required to keep things running in tip-top shape. Chief among them is oiling.

If your tufting gun is making a strange noise or not working well, odds are you’re not oiling it often enough.

Here’s how to oil a tufting gun to help remedy that, plus a few more basic maintenance tips.

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How to oil a tufting gun

How to oil a tufting gun supplies
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

Oiling your tufting gun takes just a minute or two, and you don’t need much in terms of supplies. Here’s what you’ll need:

You should also make sure to work over a surface that you don’t mind getting dirty. You can definitely oil your tufting gun without making a mess, but it’s worth the precaution the first few times.

Step 1: Unplug your tufting gun

How to oil a tufting gun unplug
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

This sounds silly, but you should completely unplug your tufting gun before you start to oil it.

Even if you’re in the middle of a project, just unplug it. Trust me.

Step 2: Brush away built-up fibers

How to oil a tufting gun brush
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

Using a cheap paintbrush, brush away any tufting yarn fibers that have built up on the moving parts of your tufting gun, as shown above.

You don’t have to, but this is also a good opportunity to brush off the entire machine. The entire front area, including the needle, foot, and scissors (on cut pile models), tends to fill up over time.

Step 3: Apply oil to the rails

How to oil a tufting gun top rail
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

Now it’s time to actually oil your tufting gun. Apply a single drop (or two depending on the oil) to each of the four rails in the middle of the machine where the bearings are attached, as in the photo above.

Note that you will need to flip it over to oil all four rails.

However, you don’t need to apply oil to the entire rail, just the area where the two parts meet. You’ll spread it in the next step.

How to oil a tufting gun scissors
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

If you’re using a cut-pile tufting gun, you will also want to oil the scissors (as above) at least once a month.

Step 4: Turn the gear to spread the oil

How to oil a tufting gun crank
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

Before plugging your machine back in, manually turn the crank about 10 times to spread the oil around the rails. It’s important to do this by hand to get a nice, even spread.

If your tufting gun has a covered gear, like the newer Duo models, you can turn the gear by holding the bearing arm or by inserting a flathead screwdriver. Just be sure not to insert it too far.

Step 5: Tidy up any excess oil

How to oil a tufting gun cleanup
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

This step isn’t always necessary, but using an old rag, wipe up any excess or built-up oil.

Note: Do not wipe all of the oil off of the rails. They should be oily. That’s the whole point.

Once everything is looking tidy, you’re ready to plug it back in and get tufting!

How often do you need to oil a tufting gun?

Tufting gun ak I
Photo via Nick Rowan (Tiny Workshops)

For casual tufters, you should be oiling your tufting gun before every use. This will ensure that it stays in good condition in the long run.

If you’re more serious about tufting, you should oil your tufting gun once every two hours or so of tufting. For occasional tufters, you can get away with as little as once a month.

You’d be hard-pressed to oil your tufting gun too often. If you start to notice a significant build-up of oil, you might want to oil less often (or clean up better), or maybe use a different oil.

I’ve found that 3-in-One Multipurpose oil works best, while thinner oils like sewing machine oil may not last as long or lubricate as well.

One surefire way to know when your tufting gun needs oil is by sound. If it makes a squeaking sound while you tuft, it’s time to break out the oil

That’s it for this guide to how to oil a tufting gun! Any questions or tips? Drop them in the comments below!

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