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Thread: What is the best way to clean my new surface plate?

  1. #1
    shapeaholic is offline Stainless
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    Hi all!
    Just got home with my new prize. A 24x36 black granite surface plate.
    I cleaned the surface with some isopropal alcohol, but it still seams dirty. I won't be able to get my hands on any "surface plate cleaner" until mid-week.
    Can any one suggest an alternate cleaner? I have a vague memory of someone suggesting "Comet" cleanser but I hesitate to use something abrasive without good advise.

    Thanks

    Pete

  2. #2
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    bluchip is offline Stainless
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    Denatured alchohol, essentially what Dykem ink remover is.

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    Our shop floor plates get nasty, oils in the air and all that. I find some kind of soap, hand soap, dish soap, whatever (I'd be hesitant with an abrasive too), with a sponge or a light scrubby worked, then hit it with acetone or equivilant to get all the residues off. Hit the bottom of the height gage while your at it.

    I try not to clean it too often, because its such a treat to use when its super clean and smooth.

  4. #4
    traytopjohnny is offline Stainless
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    I'll second the denatured alchohol. I worked a lot with the Swisss jig bore techs. Some of the people thought they were drunk because they would always smell alchohol. The guys sprayed everything with it and immediately wiped the surface with lint free rags. (Everything) John

  5. #5
    toolmakerjim is offline Titanium
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    personally i would get some of that Starrett surface plate cleaner.
    catalouge number 81825 its one liter and its engineered for the purpose of cleaning surface plates...jim

  6. #6
    Randy R is offline Aluminum
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    DoAll and probably others have a aerosol foam cleaner especially for surface plates.
    Randy

  7. #7
    Mike C. is offline Diamond
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    Just hit it all over real good with a side grinder... heheh.

    Formula 409 or any typical household degreasing cleaner should be fine. Denatured alcohol should be fine. It's granite. Not much short of really serious abrasives that will change it. I wouldn't use Comet.

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    Milacron's Avatar
    Milacron is online now Diamond
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    As TMJ and RR, say, the cleaners made specifically for surface plates, in my experience, clean the most thoroughly and with less objectionable smell.

    But then these special aerosols may not appeal to some folks uncontrolable desire to find something "simplier" that works...if this thread goes long enough eventually someone will mention using spit or WD 40...
    doug8cat likes this.

  9. #9
    Mike C. is offline Diamond
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    Funny you mention WD.... That's what I use on the Taft-Pierce cast iron plate I scraped in at Savannah. Mineral spirits also works well. I use real prussian blue oil paint.

  10. #10
    Cheenist is offline Hot Rolled
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    Guys!
    Go easy on the solvents around surface plates! They are dyed to provide that even black color. I couldn't tell you how many surface plate I've seen that looked like the color was bleeding and running down the sides from someone cleaning the plate with a solvent. Just get the proper cleaner.
    Carl

  11. #11
    Milacron's Avatar
    Milacron is online now Diamond
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    WD might be fine for an iron plate, but in my comparisons of *granite* surface plate cleaners years ago I remember being amazed at how much more dirt showed up on the rags using the foaming surface plate cleaners, compared to everything else.

  12. #12
    John Garner is offline Stainless
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    Pete --

    The best commercial surface plate cleaner I ever tried was sold by Rahn. It was a soft, cream-colored paste in a screw-top tin can that sold for US$ 5 a pound twenty-five-plus years ago. Funny thing was that it looked, smelled, felt, and tasted just like . . . um, I've forgotten . . . DL, Go-Jo, Lan-Lin or one of the other national brands of waterless hand cleaner that the local fast-food auto supply stores offered for 1/10 the price in their weekly ads.

    Because of the striking similarity between the Rahn cleaner and waterless hand cleaner, I tried the waterless hand cleaner as a surface table cleaner.

    BINGO! For the past twenty-five years I've been using one or another brand of non-ammoniated waterless hand cleaner without pumice to clean precision stoneware. (The can I'm using now is Go-Jo Original from Ace Hardware's August Sale; US$ 1 for a big can.)

    Scoop a bit out of the can, spread it over the surface to be cleaned, scrub as necessary with a "ok for Teflon" kitchen scrubbie, and sop up the mess with paper towels or shop rags. Works wonderfully well!

    One word of caution: The name of the product is "waterless hand cleaner", but most of them are fundamentally oil-and-water emulsions. To avoid rusting you'll need to allow several minutes for the residual water to evaporate after cleaning your granite flat.

    And for what it's worth, the old Rahn Granite was bought by Tru-Stone, which was in turn bought by Starrett. Starrett Tru-Stone still sells the Rahn paste cleaner, and the MSDS reveals that it's made for them by one of the major makers of waterless hand cleaner, Stockhausen if I remember right.

    Here's a link to the Starrett Tru-Stone website page showing the Rahn cleaner: http://www.tru-stone.com/pages/smp.asp#clean

    And the MSDS: http://www.tru-stone.com/pdf/rahn_msds.pdf

    John

  13. #13
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    I am quite certain Rock of Ages surface plate cleaner used to be Dow 409 bathroom cleaner.

  14. #14
    Davis In SC is online now Titanium
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    eventually someone will mention using spit
    Naa, 'baccer juice works better.. All kidding aside, I always used Dykem remover, which I think is mainly Acetone. Also, Laquer Thinner, or Alcohol also works well. I would refrain from using 409, Mean Green, etc. They contain Sodium Metasilicate, which is also refered to as waterglass. In it's pure form, Sodium Met will dissolve glass. I always wondered about it eroding some of the minerals in a surface plate.

  15. #15
    Dave Haven is offline Cast Iron
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    Re: John Garner
    BINGO! For the past twenty-five years I've been using one or another brand of non-ammoniated waterless hand cleaner without pumice to clean precision stoneware. (The can I'm using now is Go-Jo Original from Ace Hardware's August Sale; US$ 1 for a big can.)
    The man who calibrates our surface plates uses Go-Jo Hand cleaner and a water rinse to clean our plates before he checks them. It gets them really clean.

  16. #16
    Milacron's Avatar
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    The man who calibrates our surface plates uses Go-Jo Hand cleaner and a water rinse to clean our plates before he checks them. It gets them really clean.
    That will indeed get them "clean enough", but try that sometime, let it dry, and then go back over it with the foaming surface plate cleaner and you'll probably be surprised at how much dirt was still there. Still, the GoJo does get it clean enough, but the foam is a little less work to use and cleans even better. Foam more expensive of course, so that's the usual tradeoff.

  17. #17
    Forrest Addy is online now Diamond
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    I use lacquer thinner as a GP surface plate degreaser. This removes grease, oil, and skin residues quite efficiently. If I'm working to significant accuracy and don't want to chill the plate I use paper towels moistened with lighter fluid to dab up sticky spots.

    When I really want it clean I use non-ammoniated (important!!) glass cleaner. The glass cleaner trick is a good last step before covering the plate at the end of the day.
    oldbikerdude37 likes this.

  18. #18
    Mike C. is offline Diamond
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    Yeah, I have a can of foaming surface plate cleaner... industrial foaming degreaser and it does work good.

    As for solvents taking the "dye" off a surface plate, I don't think there is any solvent that is going to make my pink grantie Starrett surface plate streak!!! lol.

    And yes, the WD is only for the cast iron plate. After cleaning up the Savannah plate, I don't plan on doing much bluing on my pink granite rock. Too damned much trouble to clean granite. I'll use the iron plate for spotting and save the granite to true the iron plate.

  19. #19
    BadDog is offline Stainless
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    Somewhat related, and hopefully not too much of an OT for the latest rendition of this discussion...

    What do you guys use to cover the plates and *keep* them clean? I read a bunch of the old posts and found the same answers posted here now on how to clean it. And I also saw folks often use wood covers to protect. So, I covered my plate with some old hard wood work surface boards (the kind you pull out of a cabinet to work on, about 3/4" thick hard wood). But I distinctly noticed a gritty “don’t slide right” feeling last time I had a height gage on there. I haven’t yet cleaned it again, but want to find a better way to store/protect it once I do. The wood is great for multi-purposing the plate and keeping it from getting damaged or something, but seems less than ideal.

  20. #20
    FranH is offline Hot Rolled
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    Do half the plate with anything suggested.....do the other half with an alcohol Bon Ami paste. Rinse with alcohol, wipe dry.....cheap and you'll see the difference.....appearance and when you move a surface gage across the surface. For protection a piece of carpeting on the underside of a plywood cover works fine.

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