"A determined soul will do more with a rusty monkey wrench than a loafer will accomplish with all the tools in a machine shop."

Posted: July 14, 2011

SlipIt Sliding Compound

Slippery? Somewhat. Protective? Not so much.

Available from Rockler and Woodworker's Supply

SlipIt is an odd substance. It's like nothing I've seen, it's almost like non-oily oil. Designed as a lubricant for sliding surfaces, I've heard many people extol its virtues for machine surfaces like tablesaw tops, so I decided to check it out. I picked up a quart can from WoodCraft for about $15. You can also get it as a pump spray and aerosol can.

According to the manufacturer, SlipIt is non-toxic and certified by the FDA for incidental food contact. It also contains no silicone to interfere with finishing. SlipIt also comes in another formula that does contain silicone, make sure you get the right one.

Nasty-looking

When I first opened the can, I was a little confused. The directions say to stir the SlipIt, but what I was looking at reminded me of Crisco. It didn't look "stir-able" at all. However, after sticking a screwdriver into it and wiggling a bit, it quickly liquefied to the consistency of ... well ... snot. That's the best way I can describe it, it's like a can full of mucus. Luckily, SlipIt seems to have no odor whatsoever, I don't think anything stinky and snotty-looking would remain in my shop.

Convenience good, performance ...

SlipIt is quite easy to apply. Glop out a little on your metal surface and spread it around in a thin layer. And when I say a little, I really mean a little. A little SlipIt goes a long way. After you spread it around (I use a paper towel) just buff it to remove the excess (another paper towel). You don't need to let the SlipIt dry, because (as far as I can tell) it never does. It leaves a slight liquid film on the surface, which is a little disconcerting at first. Be aware that this film gives cast iron a satiny look, which may not set well with people who like their tops super-shiny.

I've tried a variety of products for protecting and lubricating my cast iron surfaces. I've generally stuck with TopSaver for protection plus Johnson's Paste Wax for slickness, although I'm taking a second look at Boeshield lately. JPW is the Gold Standard for slipperiness, perhaps a bit too slippery. I didn't do any scientific tests, but I can tell you subjectively that without a doubt SlipIt is nowhere near as slick as JPW. It certainly gives a surface conducive to sliding wood, but nothing spectacular and it didn't seem to stay slick nearly as long. On the other hand, SlipIt is tremendously easier to apply than JPW and doesn't have JPW's powerful odor. SlipIt is also very easy to work into areas like miter slots where it works quite well.

Bring on the rust

One area where SlipIt falls far short is corrosion protection. I had recently cleaned the ways on my lathe and also gotten a brand new planer. Each got a coating of Slipit and then (because of circumstances) sat unused for several weeks. My shop is air-conditioned and stays around 50% humidity, so it's not like there was a lot of moisture around. Imagine my horror when I went to use my lathe and found rust! Same thing on the planer bed, tons of rust. The manufacturer says that SlipIt "provides a level of rust protection". Apparently that level is "very little".

Not for me

I can see where someone would really like SlipIt, especially if they're willing to take advantage of SlipIt's super-easy application and do it frequently. Also, if you're one of the many who feel JPW's smell is sickening, SlipIt may be your ideal product. I might have been willing to give SlipIt the nod over TopSaver/JPW if it had been able to give better protection against rust. But I need a product that keeps my shiny tools shiny even if I'm not using them at the moment.

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