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Surface plate care

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  • Surface plate care

    I recently pick up an 8” x 12” surface plate at an auction that I’ll mostly be using for layout. I’d like to know how I should care for it, what to use to clean it, do’s and don’ts, etc. Stu

  • #2
    Don Bailey, with Suburban Tools has a Youtube video on the interweb on surface plate cleaning, and he says using ammonia is a great cleaner. This thread may expand greatly, with many replies, based on everyone having an opinion. Some of the threads over on PM take up many pages on the care and cleaning of surface plates. There are many experts out there willing to chime in. I'm sure some will weigh in here also. Highly debated subject. Forrest Addy is very knowlegeable about these.

    Salem, Oregon


    • #3
      Originally posted by Stu View Post
      ... do’s and don’ts, etc. Stu
      Always use a coaster when placing your beverage on it.
      Location: Long Island, N.Y.


      • #4
        Be sure to put some sandpaper face down to keep the file from touching the surface.

        I clean mine with Windex or similar window cleaner and make sure no oil stays on it for very long.
        Kansas City area


        • #5

          I use rubbing alcohol or Windex
          Last edited by MichaelP; 11-24-2016, 12:04 PM.
          WI/IL border, USA


          • #6
            Surface plates can be etched. Based on the type of stone the material. Sample is marble; marble contains a large amount of calcium carbonate and sulfate. Acid pH cleaners are to be avoided , the carbonate reacts with the acid and results in solubilizing the stone and pitting. Any solution with a pH of 6.9 or less is a no-no. Granite contains little carbonate so mild acids infrequently should be Ok. Other stone materials may have more carbonate and the avoidance of acid cleaners is recommended. Keep surface plate covered when not in use. You can have a flat surface but be dirty. In that case dirty is Ok. If you have to clean use a clear solvent for grease that offer an acceptable evaporation rate and for water soluble dirt, just clean water, no detergent as this may leave a residue. Tom


            • #7
              Not the worlds greatest expert, but I have been using granite plates for a long time. They are tough to hurt other than by physical damage such as chipping, cracking (not easy, but it can be done) and wear.

              Basic guide is keep it covered when not in use, no rapid temperature changes, wipe it down before, after, and during use with soft wipes (micorfibre are trendy now, but I use optical wipes or blue shop towels, since I have them), don't let it get oily, and keep it clean of grit by wiping before, during and after use. Oh, did I mention, keep it free of grit? Some people swear by solid (wood) covers that don't touch the surface, other by soft vinyl covers, or fleece lined vinyl, or.... I don't think it much matters. I use cloth (medium weight tight weave polyester. Lint free and stops dust and grit) left over from making a new microscope cover. I think it was originally a cheap pillow cover from wallyworld.

              Don't drop things on it. Don't use it as a storage surface. Don't use it as a base for jacking up a car (I wish I were kidding, though that was a cast iron lapping plate)

              Few shop chemicals will hurt a granite plate (some acids and alkalis will, IIRC), so cleaning is pretty much personal preference. I use denatured alcohol or mild ammonia. Pretty much anything that doesn't leave a film or residue can be used, depending on what the cleaning need is. There are people that will swear by any and every cleaner as the best, and equally many that will swear each of them is harmful to the plate. If a liquid gets on the surface, remove it with the appropriate cleaner so you don't get dried deposits or films. For example, if someone spills a cola on it, I would wipe it and clean it with water followed by ammonia. For prussian blue, I use mineral spirit followed by alcohol for cleaning, and ammonia if needed.

              I've, as have many other here, seen plates that go back to the war that are still fine with indifferent concern for details of cleaning method and covering for their entire life.


              • #8
                Don't drop it.

                Clean with windex or similar, maybe wipe off with solvent sometimes. Depends what "blue" you use.

                Good to cover and keep dust off, for your own convenience. And so stuff is not set directly on it, cuz it WILL get set on top!
                CNC machines only go through the motions


                • #9
                  Great info guys, I do plan on making a matching wood top. Thanks Stu


                  • #10
                    It often strikes me as "odd" that a granite surface plate that is almost indestructible needs so much "babying" and "molly-coddling" when many survive quite well and will stand quite bit of "abuse" anyway.

                    Last edited by oldtiffie; 11-24-2016, 05:56 PM.