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How to polish metal easily: expert methods and tips

polish metal easily

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What are the best ways to polish metal easily? Our guide outlines what to do, and the steps you should go through to bring metal to a high finish.

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Can I polish metal without special accessories? For small areas in the household, you can also use a microfibre cloth and home remedies.

Does polishing by hand make sense? In many cases, you can achieve significantly better results with the right tool, as the polishing machines work at very high speeds.

Can I save money on polishing paste? There are big differences in price. To a large extent, however, this is also justified. In view of the high time required, it is therefore generally not worth relying on cheap products.

In order for a metal surface to shine beautifully, it is necessary to maintain it regularly. In addition to removing flying rust, this also includes polishing.
This applies both to jewellery, to motorcycles or to repairing scratches in the kitchen. In our post you will learn how to polish metal so that it looks like new again. 

1. Metals are not all the same

Depending on the surface, the approach is very different. However, this applies not only to the types of metal, but also to the respective use.

While you’d better not approach a stainless steel refrigerator with the delta grinder, this is certainly not a problem with a knife or even a scratched car part.

So before you buy expensive polishing agents or buy a machine with which you can not only grind metal, but then also polish it, you should first familiarize yourself with the respective object.

2. Polish metal: first coarse, then fine

If you want to get hard, scratched or started metal shiny again, polishing pastes will help you very little at the beginning — leave them for the final stages

The steps of grinding and polishing often merge into each other. Rather, it is necessary to pre-sand the surface by hand or better with a machine, in order to polish it afterwards.

Before you can start the actual work, you must clean the metal in question. This applies regardless of whether it is brass, stainless steel or aluminium.

However, the hardness of the respective metal determines which sanding and polishing discs you can work with.

If you want to sand metal, work with very fine sanding paper to eliminate superficial scratches. In this way, the subsequent polish can only work properly.

On the other hand, the pure application and massage of polishing pastes without grinding elements is usually doomed to failure when it comes to a little firmer materials.

However, once the preparatory work has been completed, a Dremel is ideally used.This is available in many variants for different applications. In general, Dremel, which can generate high speed and can be stuck, is suitable for harder metal parts.

For rims, however, you better use a rather smaller model, which you can hold well in your hand when the rims are in front of you.

If, on the other hand, you want to polish painted metal to a high gloss,the disturbing lacquer layer must first be removed. The best way to do this is to use the appropriate tool by grinding the layer.

Start with a coarse grit and use grinding blades with a very fine grain in the end. With a grain size of 1000, you already polish and hardly grind any more, so that the metal piece shines again in a new splendour.

As an alternative to grinding, you can also use color solvents. However, this should only be done outdoors, as very strong vapours can occur. Then apply a polishing paste and polish the workpiece with a polishing disc.

Tip: For untreated metal surfaces, you can apply a spray varnish after polishing. In this way, you ensure that the shine is maintained for a long time to come.

3. Choose the right polishing disc

To ensure that the result is correct and that the metal shines beautifully again after polishing, you should use the correct polishing disc.

In general, the advice is that you should only work with extremely fine slices with very fine surfaces that are reflected, otherwise too high a removal will take place.

The following polishing discs are suitable for the appropriate uses:

  • Sisal cord: The very robust material is perfect for slightly coarser work. With profiled metal parts, you achieve excellent results.
  • Cotton: The natural fibres are very soft. Deeper scratches can therefore only be compensated poorly. However, in order to get surfaces beautifully shiny again, polishing discs made of cotton are ideally suited.
  • Flannel: As a rule, polishing discs made of flannel are used at the end. The fibers are extremely fine, so you should work with a matching high-gloss polish.

If you follow a specific guide, the result depends on various factors. On the one hand, this is certainly the starting point. However, it is much more important that you take a lot of time.

Do not try to work with pressure, but let the devices work for you. In case of doubt, another polishing paste or a new polishing disc helps to get the metal surfaces beautifully shiny again.

4. Home remedies to polish metal

There are many different metals. If you only want to polish household objects or small things made of metal, such as fittings or a doorknob, you can also use typical home remedies and save yourself expensive polishes.

Toothpaste is particularly well suited. This contains very fine abrasive particles that grind off the surface. In this way, fine scratches can be eliminated.

You can achieve a similar effect by making a paste from water and soda. It also contains extremely fine abrasive particles that do not damage even sensitive surfaces. By the way, this tool also helps with cleaning, so you can do two steps in one.

gerhardt-richter Gerhardt Richter is a writer and a trainer at trade technical colleges, specializing in carpentry, plumbing, mechanics and construction.