How to Hone a Cylinder with Sandpaper: Only for Emergency

Honing the engine cylinder with sandpaper does sound a little absurd. And it is pretty natural for it to sound like that. In fact, it should only be an option during emergencies. For example, when you have no specialized tools and cannot afford to make a trip to the car mechanic.

The process is as weird as it sounds. That is why not everyone can do it properly during their first tries. However, we know exactly how to hone a cylinder with sandpaper properly. We gained that skill through honing cylinders for years. And we will share all our knowledge in this article.

Choosing the Right Grit

As the process involves sandpaper, the first thing that you need to worry about is the sandpaper. You probably know this by know that there is a wide range of grit options available for sandpaper. And not all of them are applicable for the honing process.

Additionally, not all cylinders are of the same material, so there is really no universal grit number for this task. Our first advice, in this case, would be to contact a mechanic. Ask them the engine model you have and tell them to recommend a sandpaper grit for carrying out the honing task.

If that is not possible, we would recommend you start with the options that usually work. Here, we are referring to the 400, 280, 180, and 100 grits. These are the safest options for the task, and they usually give good overall results. However, these options are not the best ones to opt for.

But, you can get decent results if you use multiple of them during the task. For example, you should start with a 200 or 100 for breaking the glaze. They will work for retaining the oil inside the bore too. After that, you should use a 180 grit to finish off the whole task. That grit will offer smoothness.

Get Rid of All Loose Elements

The honing will not offer a fruitful result if the loose elements are still with the cylinder. For that reason, you need to remove all of the loose parts first. When it comes to getting rid of those, you should follow the proper steps.

Each engine will have a different procedure, so we will not be digging that deep regarding this factor. But we would recommend following the instructions written on the engine guide if you are completely new to this stuff.


After getting rid of the loose parts, you would need to focus on lubricating the cylinder walls. In this case, our recommendation would be to stick with the honing oils. There are loads of options in the market. Choose the one that has the highest lubricating power.

It would be best if you did not hone the cylinder without lubricating the walls. That will make the honing task harder than it has to be. Additionally, the result will not be as you might expect it to be. So, do not skip getting the lube.

Get the Sandpaper with Drill

To get the best possible results, you would need to combine the sandpaper with a drill. Yes, you can obviously sand the cylinders with your hand, but for that, you will have to put in too much effort. And no matter how much of an effort you give, sanding with hand will indeed cause some imperfections.

For that reason, we would recommend getting a drill. You would hone the cylinders by attaching the sandpaper with the drill. That will make the whole process easier and let you finish the honing tasks faster.

Start Honing

Now that you know the preliminary stuff let us get into the steps that you need to follow. And they are as follows:

Step 1: Get The Loose Elements Off The Cylinder

Before anything else, you need to get the loose elements off the cylinder. Make sure that the parts you are removing are kept in a position where it is easier to clean them. Also, ensure that you can move them from one place to another pretty easily.

Step 2: Put The Honing Oil On The Walls

Next, you would need to put the honing oil on the walls. Ensure that the application of the oil is even. Do multiple coats if you have to, and lubricate each part of the walls properly.

Step 3: Use The Drill

Then, you would have to get100 or 120 grit. Cut the sandpaper according to size and attach it to the drill. Attach the paper in such a way that it creates a circle when the drill spins. That will yield the best results, and the honing will look near perfect in that way.

On that note, ensure that the gritty part of the paper is on the outside, not the flat side. If you attach the flat side facing outwards, you will not get any honing results at all.

Turn the drill on and sand the entire surface with that grit for a while. Ensure that you have covered each of the spots and then switch to a 180 grit.

Follow the exact attaching procedure we have mentioned above. Smoothen the entire surface by ensuring that the gritty texture is facing outwards.

If the 180 grit does not do that much of a proper job in terms of smoothening up the surface, you might want to switch to a 200 grit. That should do the trick!

Warning – Don’t Hone Too Much!

Honing the cylinders do come at an expense. No, we are not talking about the cost of the equipment. Instead, what we are referring to here is that the process can have an opposite impact on the cylinders. There is always a risk of making the hole too big while honing.

And when the holes of the cylinder are more prominent than they should be, the parts will not fit properly. For that reason, you should avoid honing the cylinders too much.

Generally, four to six strokes will be enough to hone them. Also, you can keep the 10 to 15 seconds limit on each of the holes.

Final Words

As you can see, learning how to hone a cylinder with sandpaper is not that much of a deal. You just need to have an idea regarding the preliminary stuff and follow the steps correctly.


I am Samantha, an automobile engineer and POD business owner. I am also a wife of Jason and a mother of three children, two of whom are twins. I am passionate about making a difference in the world and strive to be a role model for my children. I believe that hard work and dedication can lead to success, no matter what your circumstances may be. I have a passion for cars and enjoy working on them in my spare time. I am excited to be able to share my knowledge and experience with you. Stay connected !

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