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Hard, fine particles used to polish metals, stone, wood, glass, and other materials. Naturally occurring materials used as abrasives include Diamond, Emery, Corundum, Sand, Garnet, Quartz, Pumice, diatomite, Kaolin, Fuller's earth, Talc, Chalk, and cuttlefish bone. Manufactured materials used as abrasives include Silicon carbide, Aluminum oxide, Zirconium oxide, Titanium dioxide, green rouge (Chromic oxide), Stannic oxide, cerium oxide, Glass, Boron carbide, boron nitride, and Synthetic diamond. Abrasives are sold as powders, slurries, and as abrasive cloths, papers, and wheels. They are characterized by hardness and particle size. Their hardness can be measured on the Mohs' scale in which the diamond is rated as a 10. Mild abrasives, such as chalk and talc, have a hardness of 1-3 Mohs. Diamond and silicon carbide are hard abrasives. Particle size depends on the mesh of the sieves used for separation, i.e. a 600 grit abrasive contains particles 8 micrometers and smaller.

Synonyms and Related Terms

diamond; emery; corundum; sand; garnet; quartz; pumice; diatomite; kaolin; fuller's earth; talc; chalk; cuttlefish bone; silicon carbide; aluminum oxide; zirconium oxide; titanium dioxide; green rouge; chromic oxide; tin oxide; cerium oxide; glass; boron carbide; boron nitride; steel wool; abrasive paper; lubrisil, micromesh; abrasive powder; crocus powder; jewelers rouge; rottenstone; tripoli powder; whiting; Schleifmittel (Deut.); abrasif (Fr.);


Properties of Common Abrasives (Excel)

Properties of Common Abrasives (pdf)

Resources and Citations

  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 4
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • Robert Fournier, Illustrated Dictionary of Practical Pottery, Chilton Book Company, Radnor, PA, 1992
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
  • Tom Rowland, Noel Riley, A-Z Guide to Cleaning, Conserving and Repairing Antiques, Constable and Co., Ltd., London, 1981