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surface plate cleaner - Windex vs lighter fluid

metalmagpie

Titanium
Joined
May 22, 2006
Location
Seattle
I have taken two scraping classes. In one I was taught to use Windex to clean surface plates. In the other I was taught to use lighter fluid. Both teachers were eminent luminaries in their field, loaded with unassailable wisdom and experience. Both ways seem to work.

I got what I really hope is my final surface plate the other day, a near-mint 24x36x4" Precision Granite on factory stand. I cleaned it with Windex, as has been my practice for the last few years. It looked pretty clean. Then my eye fell on my old can of Ronsonol. I went over it again with the lighter fluid. There was no visible dirt on the rag but the plate sure looked extra clean.

Just wondering - what do you use to clean your surface plate, and why?

metalmagpie
 
I've been using mechanic's waterless hand cleaner (without grit or ammonia) for 40-some years. Ever since I noticed how similar the Rahn paste cleaner that cost $US 5 a one pound tin was to the waterless hand cleaners sold by the "fast food" auto supply stores regularly put on sale for fifty cents a can.

The last several cans have been branded Go-Jo or DL.
 
Haven't done lighter fluid, but I typically keep Windex in my tool box just for cleaning ink from straight edges or scraped surfaces. On granite we use simple green for preliminary cleaning when it's really dirty or inked up (because that's what we keep on the shop floor, Windex would probably be fine too), then alcohol for the final clean. We also bought a bottle of the proper Starrett surface plate cleaner, and is notably better than anything else we've used, picking up stuff the others left behind, but I don't know that it matter for all work to justify using it exclusively.
 
Isopropyl alcohol seems to work very well with Dykem HiSpot and is right at hand in the shop. I do not think brief exposure to alcohol can have enough cooling effect to make any measurable difference in the trueness of the plate surface.

Denis
 
I use isopropyl alcohol also. There's not much cooling because I wipe it off to dryness. That last needs to apply to all cleaners. Remove them from the surface plate/table. Don't let them evaporate dry or they'll leave a deposit behind.
 
I don't like anything like Windex as it can cause rust on tools, same with alcohol. Windex also doesn't work well with real blue (oil based). Any oil based solvent should be fine, I use white sprits, I guess in the states that is "mineral sprits", not so different from lighter fluid.
 
Related video came out a month ago. You can play the @Houdini16 drinking game at home with this video.
  • One sip every time he says "granite plate"
  • Two sips when he says the complete phrase, "granite surface plate."
If you can make it the whole 25 minutes without blacking out, you win!
 
I use Prepsol which is grease and wax remover as used by spray painters. I also use it to clean the adhesion plate on my 3D printer. I used to use the proprietary pink fluid but it doesn't work any better than the Prepsol.
 
Related video came out a month ago. You can play the @Houdini16 drinking game at home with this video.
  • One sip every time he says "granite plate"
  • Two sips when he says the complete phrase, "granite surface plate."
If you can make it the whole 25 minutes without blacking out, you win!
I think I'll play the game without watching the video
Then I really win!
 
Related video came out a month ago. You can play the @Houdini16 drinking game at home with this video.
  • One sip every time he says "granite plate"
  • Two sips when he says the complete phrase, "granite surface plate."
If you can make it the whole 25 minutes without blacking out, you win!
You don't know the new Abom drinking game I got rollin?
You drink every time he says "whenever" out of context, one drink.
You drink every time he says "turrant" instead of "turret" , even after you pointed out that its on the side of the machine, 2 drinks.

edit: actually I think this is why I got blocked. :D
turrant.jpg
 
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I have always used denatured alcohol as the go-to. But the shop I'm at now has Starrett surface plate cleaner as well. I've noticed that I always pick up a little bit more with Starrett's cleaner after using alcohol.

I haven't heard of lighter fluid for surface pate cleaning but I have heard of, and have used, lighter fluid as a carrier fluid for lapping steel pieces and it works well.

EDIT: This is in regard to granite plate, not cast, as granite plates are the only thing I have ever used.
 
For those of you who have not tried it, I suggest you try lighter fluid. I don't know how it compares to denatured or isopropyl alcohol, but it seems extremely effective. I am not sure I trust cleaners that leave a shine - that shiny layer, after all, has some thickness. Anyway, to each his own. My first plate was an 18x24" Starrett pink granite plate and I bought a bottle of Starrett surface plate cleaner at the time and liked it very much. And pretty much the A team on the West Coast for testing and lapping plates is Standridge, and their cleaner supposedly leaves a slick plate.l

metalmagpie
 
I use Dykem remover and prep with excellent results. I have not compared it to hand cleaner. The MSDS says it has

Acetone 60 - 70%
Ethanol 30 - 40%
Isopropanol 1 - 5%
N-Propyl acetate 1 - 5%

I use it in a lot of places I used to use Laquer thinner or Prep Sol, it cuts the dirt faster and leaves a cleaner surface.
 
So I've been following the conversations on water based, flammable solvents and others.

And listening to concerns about temperature change from solvent evaporation. So there might just be a place where all of that meets in the middle. Simply light off the solvent when the plate is pretty well clean and the heat input will just about counteract any evaporation cooling, and satisfying the closet fire and explosion lovers is a definite bonus.
 
So I've been following the conversations on water based, flammable solvents and others.

And listening to concerns about temperature change from solvent evaporation. So there might just be a place where all of that meets in the middle. Simply light off the solvent when the plate is pretty well clean and the heat input will just about counteract any evaporation cooling, and satisfying the closet fire and explosion lovers is a definite bonus.
haha, I haven't been following at all, this is too trivial a task.
Ill throw one in, you could use electronics cleaner also, that flashes off almost instantly.
 
I am fairly certain that a few decades ago Rock of Ages surface plate cleaner was Dow 409 bathroom cleaner.
 
For what it's worth, Don Bailey at Suburban tool seems to think that Ammonia is the way to go. Seems nasty but cheap.
Actually Ammonia would be good on a granite surface, Base with Ph of 11, I have seen acids actually eat/convert/corrode what ever, out specific elements in a granite stone leaving it pitted.
 








 
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