Have you ever seen a luxury car or a gold ring and asked yourself: How did the metal surface get to look so reflective? How does it last so long?
We’ll let you in on a little secret of the trade. The secret is in how jewelers and metal fabricators polish their surfaces. They apply polishing compound onto a buffing wheel; it can be mounted on a rotary tool or a buffing machine. This article will cover the steps of using a polishing compound to create a mirror-like reflection on YOUR metallic surface.
What Do I Need to Create a Shiny Polished Surface?
There are a couple of things that you need to create your perfect metallic surface:
1. The appropriate polishing compounds
2. A cleaning cloth
3. Buffing / Polishing Wheels attached to a power tool, such as a drill, buffing machine, rotary tool, etc.
What is a Polishing Compound?
A polishing compound is a mildly abrasive solid substance made out of polishing powder mixed with waxes and fats used to clean and remove imperfections of a surface. It is less abrasive than alternatives such as polishing wax or rubbing compounds and less aggressive so that you don’t damage your work during the process of polishing. It is applied for minor imperfections like surface scratches rather than deep scratches.
Furthermore, they work to smooth out the metal surface around the scratch instead of filling it up. The polishing compound is the best solution to creating a mirror-like finish on any surface.
How Do I Choose the Right Polishing Compound?
There are various types of polishing compounds. The key to finding out the appropriate way to use buffing and polishing compounds depends on the surface you are trying to polish and the level of shine you want.
Here are the different colors of LINE10 Tools polishing compounds and their uses:
#1 Black: Made for heavy-duty cleaning of hard metals, such as iron and stainless steel
#2 Grey: Ideal for medium cleaning, buffing, and scratch removal of hard metals such as iron, stainless steel, and aluminum alloys.
#3 Brown: Great for cleaning, buffing, and removing scratches from soft metals such as brass, copper, tin, and pewter.
#4 Red: Ideal for cleaning, buffing, and removing scratches from precious metals such as gold and silver, also known as jewellers' rouge.
#5 White: Ideal for polishing all metals to a high gloss finish, including hard and soft metals.
#6 Green: Ideal for polishing all types of metals to a mirror-like high gloss finish, including precious metals.
How to Use a Polishing Compound in Five Easy Steps:
Step 1: Identify the Material of The Surface
The tricky part of using the correct compound is understanding why you are using it. As stated earlier, different colors represent various grits and are appropriate for a variety of surfaces. Some grades are used for softer metals, and others are for harder metals. Furthermore, some compounds are slightly coarser, making them better for scratch removals, such as #2 Grey for hard metals or #3 Brown for softer metals; Other compounds are used for the final polishing steps, such as #5 white or #6 Green. Refer to the chart on the product page for a quick reference.
Step 2: Start From Coarser Compounds and Work Your Way Up in Steps
Begin by using your coarser compounds to remove scratches on your surface. For soft metals like copper, you may want to use the #3 brown polishing compound to remove the scratches and imperfections of your compound. After steps 3, 4, and 5, you should use a finer grit compound such as #6 green or #5 white for the final cut to produce a mirror-like surface. Lastly, repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 using different polishing compounds and wheels.
Step 3: Apply The Compound Onto the Revolving Buffing Wheel
Once you find the suitable compound, spin the buffing and polishing using a power tool such as a bench grinder or drill and gently apply the polishing compound stick against the wheel. If you push too hard, you will end up with the compound applied excessively and unevenly on the wheel. Apply the compound until you see a light layer of the compound onto all ends of the wheel. You only need a little bit of compound to polish your surface.
Step 4: Hold the Item against the Revolving Buffing Wheel (or Vice Versa)
You are ready to polish your surface. Hold the item against the compound-covered wheel and let the compound work through the surface. Repeat step 3 and re-apply the polishing compound again often. Apply the compound until you cover up the entire surface with a light layer of compound.
Step 5: Wipe Up the Residue With a Cloth
After polishing, a layer of residue compound will be left on the surface. Grab a cloth with warm water and soap, wipe the residue with the moist cloth. Once it is clean, you will finally see the result of your polishing efforts, Good Job!
Keep Your Surface Reflective and Fresh Looking
Now that you know the secrets to create a mirror-like finish, you can make the roughest metals look brand-new. From a rusty car in the ’70s to a wrench from WW2, you can make them look like they were manufactured yesterday. The polishing compound is an everyday staple for metal workers and fabricators. The best part of the polishing compound is not just having your surface look fresh, but it helps preserve any surface from oxidation and scratches. With the right tools, YOU can get started on any restoration project and make your metals look shiny and brand new.