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Woodworker's Gazette
Gazette Archive 8/7/98

SlipIt - a tool review by Jim Mattson

Perhaps I'm not the best person to review Slipit. For all the touted uses of it's lubricating properties, I personally couldn't test for all of them. My windows are casement and swing open with ease. If I had sticky drawers, I'd never admit it, at least not to a bunch of woodworkers. I guess what stirred my interest about this old, space-age material is the claim it outperforms paste wax. I rely on paste wax to make my shop glide smoothly. Is Slipit really better? Let's find out.

Slipit comes in three flavors: an aerosol can, a small spritzer bottle and as a wax-like paste. Included with my samples were several pages of thank-yous, testimonials and positive comments. Additionally was a page describing all the great things Slipit can do for homeowners, machinists and woodworkers. Slipit sounded like a great product.

Additionally, Slipit is non-toxic with no perceivable smell. The wax and spritzer versions are pretty safe for anyone to use. This is good as it really sticks to your hands. The aerosol can has a propellant like most such products which require you to 'Keep out of reach of children' - I wasn't afraid...:-)

Tool And Table Surface Sealant/Lubricant
The first thing I did was spritz a little Slipit on my tablesaw and fence. The directions asked that I clean the saw first with a degreaser (I used mineral spirits) and leave a thin film of Slipit (twice) to act as a lubricant and rust protector. Just exactly what a thin film is wasn't very obvious. When using wax for the same purpose you just goop it on, wipe it out, let it dry and buff to a thin film which has the same thickness no matter how much you initially apply - the final depth is measured in molecules (I think).

With Slipit, you really aren't sure how much to leave behind. Do you buff it out like wax or leave it a little 'wet'? It doesn't harden like wax but it will give your saw the look of three coats of glossy lacquer - I liked it!

After leaving what I thought was a thin film I fired up the saw. Feeding a few scraps through the saw left me the impression that Slipit wasn't quite as slippery as a fresh coat of wax but for some reason the pushing seemed more purposeful and deliberate and maybe, more durable. I did notice where my unflat wood had contacted the saw top there were blotches of Slipit accumulating on the wood surface. Onward to the first test.

Silicone Free
Slipit contains no silicone and is advertised to be completely compatible with all finishes. I figured it had been adequately tested against lacquers but I wondered how it fared with the water-based polyurethanes I was spraying. Without sanding, I took one of the blotchy scrap pieces and sprayed it with poly. After the coat had dried, it was still possible to see the blotches of Slipit but it didn't seem to affect the finish's adhesion. After two more coats with about an hour in between, the blotches were still there even though the finish was building nicely. Whether the Slipit was under the finish or rising above it was impossible to tell. It didn't seem to dissolve into the varnish.

I'm happy to say after a week or so, the blotches disappeared and the varnish looked as good as a water-based finish can. Still, if you start applying Slipit to surfaces in your shop, you might want to be careful where you set your freshly sanded parts, particularly if you're on a tight schedule.

Router Bit, Sawblade and Bearing Lubricant
I normally don't apply anything to my cutters to prevent pitch buildup or to give me 'truer cuts' as Slipit is supposed to do. I almost never cut pine and rarely cherry - my favorite blades have Teflon coatings and besides, how would I make such a test? Wood, even man-made panel materials can be very subjective when it comes to pitch build-up and without a stock feeder to level off feed rates for a tablesaw, keeping any unconscious bias out of the results would be impossible.
There is one area Slipit might be useful to me - preventing glue build-up on flush-trimming bearings when routing plastic laminate. The next time I get a countertop to do I'll update this section with a report.

Outperforms Paste Wax
Slipit claims it's better than paste wax. As a professional, I have limited use for wax in the shop. My finishes never have that deep hand-rubbed patina which only comes from hours of loving care. Instead, wax is used to prevent work from hanging up during machining with a side order of rust prevention. Indispensable but that's it! Yet these wax applications are the ones Slipit is touted to exceed.

My first impression from the tablesaw led me to believe wax was slipperier than Slipit. Figuring out a test to measure this wasn't easy but I finally settled on using two identical sheets of melamine laying atop each other. The sheets would be cleaned thoroughly and the bottom sheet would be coated with wax for the first test and then Slipit for the second. Using a fish-weighing scale, I'd measure the amount of pull needed to get the top sheet sliding over the bottom sheet. Pretty simple, huh?

To make sure everything was properly recorded, I set up the video camera to witness the event. In case there was a close result, high-speed videography would capture the exact moment the top sheet of melamine started moving.

Well folks, such exacting measures weren't necessary. The waxed interface let the top sheet start sliding after only 6 lbs of pull. After recording the event several times, I cleaned the sheets again with mineral spirits and then Fantastik to remove all traces of the wax. Using the aerosol can, I coated the bottom sheet twice with a liberal film of Slipit, wiped to a thin film and placed the upper sheet back into position. Yanking on the fish scale revealed something I didn't expect.

With Slipit as the lubricant, the amount of pull required to move the sheet went off the scale. With a top measurement of 8 lbs, I can only estimate the force exerted to be between 10 and 12 lbs, maybe more.

Maybe I had too much Slipit on the panel so I wiped it again with a clean cloth - still off the scale. Maybe I didn't have enough Slipit on the panel so I applied some more to the point where it was way too wet for normal woodworking. Still it was off the scale. My first impression was correct - Slipit kinda slipped when compared to wax for slipperiness.

The Slipit Review concludes on Page 2

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