View Full Version : Maintaining a Surface Plate

05-18-2009, 07:33 PM
Hey guys -

Is there anything I need to do to my new surface plate, or is it ready to go right out of the box? It seems "porus" - I got my greasy paws on the edges and it left a little stain. I tried cleaning it up with some rubbing alcohol and it didn't help, which brings me to my next question: what do you guys use to clean your surface plates?

doctor demo
05-18-2009, 08:18 PM
See if this is of any help.


05-18-2009, 08:28 PM
Comet and water . Then wipe down with denatured alcohol.

05-18-2009, 09:00 PM
While a granite surface plate is a precision item and deserves good care, it's also useful to remember it's a very hard wear-resistant rock that's been around for millions of years, so don't be too paranoid about it.

Starrett (and others) sell special surface plate cleaner. I've got a quart that has lasted me for years. But, I suspect any mild cleaner would be satisfactory if you don't want to bother getting the "official" stuff.

05-18-2009, 09:10 PM
What about acetone, will that hurt the suface? I can't imagine it would ...

What about my finger prints? They didn't come off with alcohol ... The "high spot blue" washed off nicely with some alcohol.

This is one of those chineese tombstones so I'm not horribly worried about it. (Once I figure out what I'm doing and get a big enough shop, I might buyer a larger/nicer one)

05-18-2009, 09:43 PM
Most shops use what ever they have handy . I have seen from gasoline to spit . Spit want work. any thing that will evaporate .

05-18-2009, 09:43 PM
I use Windex for general cleaning followed by a rub down with lanolin.


05-18-2009, 09:51 PM
All the things that concern the experts who preserve the great stonework of the masters of antiquity should be a concern to you. Don't allow a lot of foot traffic on it, don't leave it out in an acid rain, keep pigeons away from it, don't use it like you would an anvil, don't use it as a work surface for drilling, tempting as it might be, don't use it for a glue-up surface or press weight for a glue-up job, and if you get any prussian blue on it, use lighter fluid to wipe it clean when you're done. Dust it between uses with a light bench brush and then wipe away any grit that may have floated over from your grinder or shop vac.

Things to pay attention to are the way you mount it to your table to prevent sag, and teetering (worth a trip to google), and keep it covered with something that won't itself etch it. Some kinds of paper and wood products have chemicals in them that can affect photographs and stone. I have a wood platform over mine that doesn't touch the surface so even if I toss an anvil on it, the surface plate is still reasonably safe. But then I can't toss a very heavy anvil. It's also mouse-proof so rodentia cannot build a brick house with it.

05-18-2009, 10:01 PM
And if you do layout work and general tinkering on it DO NOT USE A CENTER PUNCH ON IT (as one fellow I know did on the one at a place I once worked). ;) They are pretty sensitive to damage from sharp points and hammering. As was mentioned, cover it and keep it dusted off and it will serve your grandkids.

Don Wojtaszek
05-19-2009, 01:05 PM

Starrett surface plate cleaner is probably the best made. We have close to 20 surface plates at work and that is all we are allowed to use. The stuff is so good it even removes magic marker ink from surfaces!

The guy that comes in and calibrates our surface plates for us also recommends and uses the Starrett cleaner. To remove metal residue from parts that were dragged along the top he recommends any good pencil or ink eraser. We keep a few Pink Pearl type erasers around for that reason.

05-19-2009, 06:20 PM
Your surface plate sounds like it is new.
It will take a while to accumulate an even tone; grease- dirt patina. This is available only through use.
If you were to clean the plate and the surface gage base and move the surface gage around feeling equal drag everywhere in your movements, you are in business.