Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Using steel wool to polish aluminum

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    175

    Post Using steel wool to polish aluminum

    Does anyone else use fine (000, or better) steel wool to polish aluminum? Not to get a mirror finish, but to remove tool marks and smooth out the surface as would be done with emery for polishing steel.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Chilliwack, B.C.
    Posts
    9,397

    Post

    From someone else's advice, steel wool fragments left behind tend to leave rust marks once humidity has had it's way. Aluminum tends to gall when scrubbed with steel wool, and this could easily result in fibres of wool being embedded. I've had reasonable luck using a metal polishing compound with steel wool, instead of just dry. Just use something wet with it, WD even. One thing I've been impressed with is Nevr-dul, it's a wadding that's impregnated with what smells like diesel. You can get a mirror finish with it, if you've removed all but the finest of scratches beforehand.
    I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    McKinney, Texas
    Posts
    1,917

    Post

    No, I use a variety of Scotchbrite pads. I pretty much only use steel wool (0000) for polishing chrome.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Posts
    5,725

    Post

    I got a harley here that is really oxidized. I started by using the velcro mounted buffing pads on my side grinder.

    Then just about any polishing compound will work.

    My favorite for motorcycles? Semichrome, using a brown paper bag rubbing briskly. It has I think ammonia in it, It makes the aluminum so bright it looks like chrome.

    David

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Posts
    3,041

    Post

    I use automotive wet-n-dry sandpaper and a bucket of water (or trickling hose if it's bigger than the bucket.)

    I blast down all the tool marks with 320 or 360, using a hard rubber sanding pad on flat surfaces. Keep both the part and the paper soaked and dripping- this floats away particles and helps keep the paper from loading up. Also cuts down on the dust, so you don't have to worry about a mask.

    After the 320, go back over it with 600, still keeping it wet, then, depending on the finish you need, bump that up to 1,000 and 1,200 or 1,500. I've found, though, that 600 is a good compromise- the buffer takes care of most of the rest.

    After sanding, dry it thoroughly and take it to the buffer. A spiral wound wheel and the brown rouge will give you a nicely lustrous finish. If you want bloody perfect, swap in a new wheel after the rouge (never mix grits on a buffing wheel) and go with the fine white compound.

    Be careful near edges, the part tends to look better, more professional, if the corners remain crisp and sharp, not "melted" and rounded over.

    Doc.
    Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    On the Oil Coast,USA
    Posts
    16,825

    Post

    Yes I have used steel wool to polish and prep aluminum berofe sending it out for anodising,never had any problems with rust since the acid bath took care of anything that was left which could not have been much.

    With that said thou,I have gone to scotchbrite pads instead,they last longer and don't leave little fibers sticking in my hands.
    I just need one more tool,just one!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    52N 122W Western Kanuckistan
    Posts
    40,418

    Post

    If you try to bring steel wool on my property you will meet Mr. shotgun. I hate the stuff. It's right up there with fiberglass sanding. I use various aluminum oxide papers, never had a problem. Scotchbrite pads also work well. I do a lot of aluminum.
    Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Origin now settable to bottom left! All values positive. Click Here

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •