If you work with hydraulic systems, you may be familiar with hydraulic cylinder honing, the process of smoothing and finishing the internal surface of a cylinder. Honing is an essential part of maintaining hydraulic systems, but many people have questions about the process. In this article, we’ll answer the most common questions and provide you with expert tips to get the best results.

What is Hydraulic Cylinder Honing?

Hydraulic cylinder honing is the process of smoothing the internal surface of a cylinder by using an abrasive tool to remove any imperfections. The process involves rotating an abrasive honing tool in the cylinder bore while moving it up and down. The honing process removes any high spots and creates a crosshatch pattern on the cylinder walls. This improves the seal between the piston rings and the cylinder wall.

How to Hone a Hydraulic Cylinder?

To hone a hydraulic cylinder, you will need an abrasive honing tool and a tailored machine. First, you need to attach the honing tool to the honing machine and set the machine to the appropriate speed. Then, insert the honing tool into the cylinder bore and start the machine. Move the honing tool up and down while rotating it in the cylinder bore. You should continue honing until the crosshatch pattern is visible on the cylinder walls.

Cylinder Honing

Is It Necessary to Hone Cylinders?

The first question you might be asking is whether honing a hydraulic cylinder is necessary. The answer is, yes, it is essential to maintain the performance and longevity of hydraulic systems. When a cylinder is used, the internal surface can become rough and develop imperfection. This can affect the seal between the piston rings and the cylinder wall. Honing removes these imperfections, which ensures a proper seal and improves performance.

How Much Does Honing a Cylinder Remove?

The amount of material removed during honing depends on the condition of the cylinder and the grit of the honing tool. Typically, honing will remove only a small amount of material, usually less than 0.002 inches. However, if the cylinder is severely damaged or worn, more material may need to be removed to achieve a smooth surface.

What is the Proper Way to Hone a Cylinder?

The proper way to hone a cylinder will depend on a variety of factors. These include the type of cylinder you’re working with, their condition, and the specific honing tool that you’re using. In general, however, the process involves attaching a honing tool to a drill or other rotary tool and inserting it into the cylinder. The tool is then moved back and forth while applying a small amount of pressure. This gradually removes material from the inside of the cylinder.

The proper way to hone a cylinder is to follow these steps:

  1. Clean the cylinder thoroughly.
  2. Choose the correct grit for the hone tool.
  3. Use the proper honing oil.
  4. Insert the hone tool into the cylinder bore.
  5. Turn on the honing machine and set it to the appropriate speed.
  6. Move the hone tool up and down while rotating it in the cylinder bore.
  7. Continue until the crosshatch pattern is visible on the cylinder walls.
  8. Clean the cylinder again.

This video is a demonstration as to how a honing machine works.

The video shows HEMS’ honing bench, the HEM CH14. A particularity of this bench which you may come across is the fact it has an automated design. The entire machine can be controlled from a screen, where at the press of a button you can order your cylinder to be honed. This reduces labour costs, and increases worker safety. 

How long should you hone a cylinder for?

The length of time that it takes to hone a cylinder will depend on the condition of the cylinder and the specific honing tool that you’re using. In general, however, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.

Does honing increase bore size?

One common question that people have about honing hydraulic cylinders is whether it can increase the bore size. The answer is that it depends on the specific honing tool that you’re using. Some tools are designed to remove material evenly from the inside of the cylinder, while others can cause the bore size to increase slightly.

Should you use oil when honing a cylinder?

Yes, it’s generally recommended to use oil when honing a hydraulic cylinder. The oil helps to lubricate the honing tool, which can make the process more efficient and effective. It also helps to prevent the cylinder from overheating, which can cause damage.

How much metal will honing a cylinder remove?

As mentioned earlier, honing a cylinder typically removes a very small amount of material – usually no more than a few thousandths of an inch. However, the specific amount of material that is removed will depend on a variety of factors, including the condition of the cylinder and the specific honing tool that is used.

What oil is best for honing a cylinder?

When honing a hydraulic cylinder, it’s generally recommended to use a high-quality honing oil that is specifically designed for the process. The leading honing oil suppliers are Goodson, Premier Lubricants, and Pacehigh. However, you can also find what you need on eBay or Amazon. HEMS Honing Machines are self-feeding oil, making them vastly easier to use. These oils are formulated to provide excellent lubrication and cooling. This can help to prevent cylindrical damage and ensure that the honing process is as efficient and effective as possible.

Do you need a new piston after honing?

A further frequently asked question is whether a new piston is required after honing. The answer, for the most part, is no. I am sure this is the answer many wanted to hear, as this is another cost that is reduced by getting a honing machine. However, it is worth noting that if the seal holders are damaged, then it would be in your best interest to change the piston. If not this could damage the cylinder, causing leakage.


What grit to hone hydraulic cylinders?

When it comes to honing a hydraulic cylinder, it is essential to have the right grit. The grit size will determine the roughness or smoothness of the honed surface. If the grit is too coarse, it can leave deep scratches on the surface, causing premature wear and tear. On the other hand, if the grit is too fine, it may not remove enough material, resulting in an inefficient surface finish. According to a study by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the ideal grit size for honing a hydraulic cylinder is between 220 and 320. This range provides a balanced surface finish that is both efficient and durable. When selecting the grit size, it is important to consider the material being honed, the desired finish, and the operating conditions of the hydraulic cylinder.

Cylinder Honing



In conclusion, honing hydraulic cylinders is an essential process in maintaining the integrity and functionality of hydraulic systems. Honing helps to remove scratches and other imperfections from the cylinder bore, resulting in smoother and more efficient operation of the hydraulic system. Honing also helps to extend the life of hydraulic system components, such as pistons and seals, by reducing the amount of wear and tear they experience during operation.

By following the proper honing procedures, such as selecting the appropriate grit, using the correct lubricant, and monitoring the honing process, you can achieve excellent results and improve the performance of your hydraulic system. It is important to consult with an experienced professional before honing your hydraulic cylinders to ensure that you follow the correct procedure and avoid damaging your hydraulic system.