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Quick Guide to Polishing Metals

Quick Guide to Polishing Metals

POLISHING METALS

IMPORTANT The list below and a general polishing processes that are proved to work, there are other compound and mop combinations that work just as well.
There are many factors involved regarding polishing some are listed below:

A) Condition of the metal with determine where you start.
B) Speed the mops runs at.
C) Quality of the metal. Its does vary and a bad casting can cause problems.
D) Abrasives, get a good even surface with no deep scratches to ensure a deep mirror finish.
E) Make sure you remove the marks left from a previous process
F) If possible try to alter the direction of the polishing for each process, even if only by a few degrees.
G) Do not overload polishing mops with compound. You will deposit grease on the work surface.
H) Use safety equipment, glasses and dust mask. Dust is never nice. Polish outdoors if you have no extraction.
I) Vienna Lime can be used after polishing to reomove light grease and finger marks etc. If the work needs degreaseing then a solvent like white spirit works well.
J) If the mop becomes clogged or dirty after use has been left on shelf for a long time for example then use a mop dresser or wheel rake to bring new life into the mop. Never wash mops in water
K) Use one compound per mop. This keeps everything simple for example if you are using a sisal mop with grey compound try not to change. It is possible to change compound but make sure the old compound has been removed. Tools like mop dressers and wheels rakes are ideal for this application.
L) Please do not use cheap compounds such as silverline, there are many brands such as menzerna or canning who have been selling high quality polishes for over 75 years. I do not know a single professional polisher who uses a brand such as silverline for polishing compounds.


Click here for polishing compounds.

Polishing Steel, Stainless Steel & Iron.
If the metal is in a poor condition then abrasives will be needed. Thats where experience of polishing comes in, looking at then metal and knowing what process you need to start at.
You will need to get the surface to 240/400 grit before you start polishing at process 1.
If the condition of metal is not too bad or you have the surface to 600 grit + then you could start at process 2.

Process 1 (Burnishing) Grey 523LBZ compound with a sisal polishing mop
Process 2 (Prepolishing) Green 439T compound with a white close stitched polishing mop
Process 3 (Polishing) Blue P164 Compound or Rose P126 Compound with a Loose G quality
Process 4 (Finishing) P175 for super finishing with a Loose WDR quality mop


Polishing Aluminium.

Not as hard as the above metals, steel etc. When polishing aluminium if you are getting small holes that appear when you are polishing, stop. These can not polished out they are due to the casting and if you keep polishing you will get more holes appear. Best just buff up if this happens for damage limitation.
If the metal is in a poor condition then abrasives will be needed. Thats where experience of polishing comes in, looking at then metal and knowing what process you need to start at.
You will need to get the surface to 240/400 grit before you start polishing at process 1.
If the condition of metal is not too bad or you have the surface to 600 grit + then you could start at process 2.
Some people prefer to use the green compound on Process 1 with a sisal rather than the grey.
There are a couple of option on finishing, P126 Rose is a superb finisher but for that extra special job P175 can be used.
For thin sheet Aluminium we have a new fine finishing compound available 480F, this is a light green compound thats is more greasy than the normal finishing compounds which keeps the surface cooler.
Process 1 (Burnishing) Green 439T compound with a sisal polishing mop
Process 2 (Prepolishing) Green 439T compound with a white close stitched polishing mop
Process 3 (Polishing) Blue P164 Compound or Blue 480BLF (compound formulated for aluminium) with a Loose G quality
Process 4 (Finishing) P175 for super finishing with a Loose WDR quality mop

Polishing Brass, Copper & Zinc.
Would say softer than the above metals but some grades of brass can be very hard. For example towel rails, in this case use the same process as steel above.
If the metal is in a poor condition then abrasives will be needed. Thats where experience of polishing comes in, looking at then metal and knowing what process you need to start at.
You will need to get the surface to 240/400 grit before you start polishing at process 1.
Some people might want to use a brown Tripoli instead of the green.
For finishing both compounds are very good but for the extra special job use the P175. But P126 Rose is normally suffice.

Process 1 (Prepolishing) Green 439Tor Tripoli 113GZ compound with a white close stitched polishing mop
Process 2 (Polishing) Blue P164 Compound or Rose P126 Compound with a Loose G quality
Process 3 (Finishing) P175 Compound with a Loose WDR quality mop

Polishing Gold & Silver.
Common two process used by the jewellers for years. There are some options on process 2, some people prefer to use a WDR or R grade mop.
Rouge has always commonly been used but compounds like the Ulto 15 and P175 are a decent alternative. If you are after a clear mirror finish then P175 if worth looking at.

Process 1 (Polishing) Brown Tripoli Compound with a Loose B quality mop
Process 2 (Finishing) Rouge Compound/P175 with a G quality or WDR mop.

Platinum
Precious expensive metal. Harder than gold or silver.

Process 1 (Polishing) White 495P compound with a Loose B or white stitch mop
Process 1 (Finishing) Yellow P175 compound with a Loose G or WDR mop


Satin Finishing.
Still have to remove major surface imperfections and scratches etc. Excellent at blending in jobs. Available in four grades. Important to remember that each grade contains a grit but they do not have to cut or finish of a true abrasive, they give a much softer finish.
The web on the VFA and FA looks almost exactly the same but as you can see the grits are very different.

Very Fine A- 280 grit
Fine A -180 grit
Medium A - 120 grit
Coarse A - 80 grit

For flat work use Solid satin wheels for general work use satin lap mops. Check the abrasive section top product section. Both are for taper spindls but the Solid wheels can but made to fit a bore.