How to Hone a Cylinder with Sandpaper – Only for Emergency

Honing cylinders using sandpaper is for those who have no other ways or solutions at the moment. However, keep in mind, it's no advisable form of honing and if you're not in a desperate situation, consider getting an appropriate tool for the process.

For example, there are brush hones or ball hones that are pretty common cylinder honing tool options. Now some may wonder how to hone a 2-strike cylinder by hand, and in that case, those common tools won't be able to provide good results. The lisle cylinder hone or similar rigid hone would be more preferable.

Anyways, let's assume you don't have an access to any of those and there's no other way than learning how to hone a cylinder with sandpaper. Let me help you with the whole process and related matters.

How to Hone a Cylinder with

Let's Know How to Hone a Cylinder with Sandpaper.

Cylinders are prone to lose their perfect fitting ability. And as a part of maintenance, you would require to hone it and get things back to normal. Not performing the honing process, sometimes end up making cylinder completely worn out. And the machinery basically stops working.

Considering you don't have a honing tool at the moment where condition of cylinder is quite awful, go ahead and grab a sandpaper. You will also need some cylinder honing oil for this process.

Once you have all the things ready, follow given instructions for honing a cylinder. Make sure you actually pay attention to going with the right cylinder honing techniques used. So that there are fewer risks due to using sandpaper instead of designated tools.

Choosing The Right Grit.

The wrong grit can literally do the opposite of what you're intending for. That is why you should pay extra attention in choosing the right grit sandpaper. The best way to determine is directly consulting with a mechanic or a friend who can give you some suggestions on grit.

Generally, you have options of 400, 280, 180, and 100 grit types. Most of the time, the 120 or 100 grit sandpaper are great for glaze breaking as well as bore oil retaining purpose. Then to do the finishing job, you can use the 180 grit and get a smooth result.

280 grits can be helpful if you have to handle scoring issues. Some experts even recommended using 600 grit sandpaper in case of a ring replacement. But in that case, make sure you ask someone expert first and then go ahead.

Get Rid of All Loose Elements.

The cylinder might have some loose elements on top of it. You should get rid of those first before the honing session. That way you will be easy to handle later on. The thing should also be easy enough to moves around. Taking out the cylinder carefully comes next. 


On the wall of cylinder, you need to apply honing oil. Make sure you lubricate it well before the honing session. This will make the later process easier, properly done, and also, it'll take less time to complete everything. 

Get The Sandpaper with Drill. 

Now there are two ways to use sandpaper. One is going with the sandpaper alone and using your hands to hone. And the other method is using a drill. The second one is more preferable. Because when you use your hands there are chances of imperfections after completing the process. However, including a drill will help you avoid those errors. 

It's almost like making your own DIY cylinder honing tool using sandpaper and drill. You want to cut the sandpaper and then attach it with drill.

Make sure the attachment happens in such a way that when spinning, it can move in a circular direction. Something similar to a fan or even a tire of a bicycle. I hope you can visualize that. Also, remember that the gritty areas should be placed on the drill's outer part. 

Start Honing.

You can put drill into the gun for beginning honing process. Go over the cylinder carefully and take your time. Once you go over all the areas, there should be no imprecations left. Get ready to spend quite a lot of time on this process. Usually, this is a major reason why people don't prefer honing with sandpaper.

Keep In Mind:

  • Never skip wearing gloves before starting the process.
  • The cylinder should be held steady while honing. 
  • You should not skip the lubrication part. 
  • Bring new rings for the cylinders that are slightly bigger in size. 

Warning – Don't Hone Too Much!

With too much honing, you might invite the risk of making hole bigger. And it can basically impact oppositely. Usually, this results in parts not fitting right in the cylinder any more. You can go for 4 to 6 strokes. This should be enough for the cylinder honing. Or another rule is spending approximately 10-15 seconds for each hole. The crosshatch marks on the cylinders will be much more consistent in this way. Anything crossing that amount may result in additional size issues.

Solving Common Confusions of First Timers. 

Those who have never tried such a process before will face some challenges quite obviously. This segment is meant to sort out those common confusions or challenges. 

How To Confirm You've Honed Enough?

You should be seeing scratches that will go away with the honing process. Typically, once those scratches disappear completely, you should stop honing as well. 

How To Get Rid Of Vertical Scoring?

Honing a crosshatch pattern should help. You can use a drill for this. And get sandpaper wrapped on the main shaft. Use it for starting from the bottom and then switch sleeve around. Then start from the top. You can go back and forth until there's no more scoring left for removal. 

Is There a Significant Difference That Honing Makes?

Being uncomfortable as a first-time tryer of honing could be the reason for someone feeling this way. Sometimes there are critical scratches on the sleeve. And that's when honing can actually show you some visual differences.

If you notice that the condition of sleeve is pretty good, you can stop bothering about honing. The same goes for situations where you might have no scoring at all and simply need to get ring replaced. Beginners can also try practicing on a new liner, simply buy one.

Final Words

And that was my thoughts on how to hone a cylinder with sandpaper when you basically don't have a proper tool. Some will find using sandpaper very absurd. But then again, there are tutorials on honing cylinder with scotch brite as well that some people try due to situations. Now if you can manage a proper honing tool, then it's best to use that. But in case of an emergency where you just need to get out of the situation as soon as possible and there's no time for purchasing specific tool, go ahead with a sandpaper. Be Careful & Follow Things Sensibly, It Shouldn't Be Absolutely Bad.

About Jeremy

Hello! My name is Jeremy Bloomberg. I have been passionate about carpentry and DIY. Over the years, my passion slowly turned into expertise and wider knowledge about electronics. I’ve been involved in numerous projects, both professional and personal. I want to share all I have learned with you. Welcome!

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