The finishing.com Hotline: Serious Education ... plus the most fun you can have in metal finishing. Ted Mooney, Webmaster
Fixing scratched glass with jeweler's rouge
Q. I am a store owner and someone "scratched" graffiti on my window. My neighbor told me to try jeweler's rouge [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] to try to take out the scratches from the glass. Is there any merit to this? If so, how would I go about purchasing this?Joseph M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
store owner - Brooklyn, New York
A. You can put in a new window for the time cost. A cheaper and workable solution is to contact shops that repair rather than replace car windows. It is used on rock damage on windshields. You can barely tell that is has been repaired, basically, you have to know where to look.James Watts
- Navarre, Florida
A. Hi, Joseph. I don't know how much skill is required to do a good windshield repair, and whether it can really be done by an untrained person, but inexpensive Windshield Repair Kits [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] are available for the brave do-it-yourselfer. See later postings for more detail, but storefront glass is different stuff from windshield glass. Some knowledgeable people say below that only professionals can polish tempered glass, some knowledgeable people say it can't be done at all :-)
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Windshield Repair Kit
Q. Can you tell me what type (color/grit) of jewelers rouge I can use to remove surface scratches on glass? Do I need a buffer or can it be done by hand.
Thank you.Lisa V [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
consumer - Manchester, New Hampshire
A. Hi, Lisa. Glass repair is not done by hand; you need an electric buffer of some sort -- a Dremel [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] tool or electric drill if not an actual buffing machine. The idea is to use an abrasive that is so fine that it leaves no scratches; that means the softest rouge (which I believe is actually cerium oxide rather than jewelers' rouge). But I have not attempted it, and don't really know that this can be done by amateurs. Good luck.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
March 17, 2008
A. IT WILL BE CHEAPER AND EASIER TO REPLACE THE GLASS IN YOUR STOREFRONT. WINDSHIELD REPAIR IS FOR A STONE CHIP THAT HAS CRACKED THE FIRST LAYER OF THE GLASS. W/S ARE TWO PIECES OF GLASS LAMINATED TOGETHER. A STOREFRONT IS EITHER ONE PIECE OF PLATE GLASS OR TEMPERED GLASS. YOU MAY BE ABLE TO SLIGHTLY POLISH THE PLATE GLASS BUT THE TEMPERED GLASS CANNOT BE PLAYED WITH. I WAS IN THE AUTO GLASS BUSINESS FOR 25 YEARS AND STOREFRONT GLASS FOR OVER 10 YEARS. HOPE THIS WILL HELP YOU.SHARON P [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- DELRAY BEACH, Florida
Thanks, Sharon. Your expertise in this may save people a lot of wasted work :-)
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Repair and Maintenance
August 21, 2008
Q. I wonder if Lisa V. can expand on her reply to the question about polishing out scratches on glass with jeweler's rouge. I have a Dremel, with buffer wheels, and a block of red rouge. I'm not sure if the rouge, or buffer wheel, is to be wet or dry when polishing the glass.
Thanks for your help.
- Poughkeepsie, New York
August 27, 2008
A. Hi, Peter. People come and go from forums like this. Lisa V's posting is from long ago, so I don't think we should await a response from her personally. I am not a polisher, only saw it done a few times, but you "dress the wheel" with the buffing compound. That is you get the wheel going, then press the bar of buffing compound against it. You can read more by searching the web for "wheel dressing" or "dressing the wheel". Again, I moderate the forum but claim no experience at this :-)
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
November 12, 2008
Q. I read on the following post that for auto glass it may be best to include equal parts water, glycerin, and jewelers rouge. www.essortment.com/hobbies/diyhowtorepai_sggt.htm, however, simply states to use hand buffing rather than a polishing wheel.
- Saint Paul, Minnesota
Windshield Repair Kit
January 14, 2009
Q. I also have a question about polishing mineral deposits out of glass with red jewelers rouge.I have clear glass shower doors and have tried everything that I've found posted on all sorts of web sites about how to get them crystal clear again. Finally I called the company that installed them and was told that the spotting was actually acid etched into the glass after years of harsh chemical cleaning products.It was suggested that I try a red jewelers rouge (preferably in liquid form) which I have located and a buffing cloth and apply it with a kit I have that goes on my drill.I have removed the doors and have them on 2 saw horses in my garage. Before purchasing the red rouge I wanted to get 1 more opinion from someone who is an expert and knows about cleaning and polishing glass.
- BALTIMORE, MARYLAND
February 22, 2009
Q. My son's dogs scratched my patio sliding door, the scratches are not that bad but look horrible and I would like to repair this. I would like to know how do I do this, I read something about jewelers rouge, electric buffer with lamb's wool buffing pad, 2 ounces of ammonia, 2 quarts of water. I know I have to put the ammonia in the water; but what do I do with the jewelers rouge? Do I rub it on the glass first? wouldn't this make it worse? Please help!Aida Morales
- Mesquite, Texas
February 23, 2009
A. Hi, Aida. I've never polished scratches out of glass myself, but considering the need for flatness, I'll bet it isn't easy, and requires experience. I'd certainly practice on an old piece of glass first.
But, maybe more importantly, I'd bet that the patio door is tempered glass (the very hard stuff that shatters into a million pieces to reduce the danger of someone being badly cut. And I have heard that you can't polish tempered glass: see the reply from Sharon of Delray Beach.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
April 28, 2009
Q. I have a similar question to the one above about removing dog scratches from windows. These were installed 15 years ago. I don't know what kind of glass it is. There are 20 of these windows 30" by 7' tall, so buying new glass is probably out of the question.
I see the recipe above for the stuff used to polish out these scratches. Would you, please, explain the process in enough detail that someone can follow these steps. Or, is there a finishing.com store in Houston that will provide this service?
- Houston, Texas
April 28, 2009
A. Hi, Nancy. Finishing.com is only a website, not a store. If anyone who has done this is willing to explain the steps, we'll be happy to post it here, but we don't have a store to help you. Good luck.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
April 30, 2009 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread
Q. Getting dog scratches out of plate glass windows: How can I get dog scratches out of my glass windows?Nancy Weller (returning)
- Houston, Texas
July 1, 2009
A. Hello one and all. Though glass scratches can be repaired, jewelers rouge is not ideal. I have been repairing glass for over 26 years, from flat glass (tempered, annealed, and mainly automotive windshields wiper scratches, gauges, residue, hazing and oxidation from shallow scratches to very deep without distortion to the glass.
I have tried every product available in comparison to one another and the ideal repair solution is a combination of critical temperatures, pressure and keeping the product between the glass and the buffing wheel providing the correct amount of water, temp and pressure and not to remove glass via sanding and buffing. This will offer nothing but more problems and serious distortion to the glass.
I use a rather expensive and very scientifically engineered system. It is used by over 70% of high rise building owners and sky scrapers internationally. There is really only one way of doing these procedures properly and should be done by an experienced professional. Everything else will be an improvement or a temporary cosmetic illusion, just spray your glass with water and it will disappear before your eyes.....Until it dries! Contact a local glass supplier, they all have shipping damage of all sorts to new glass or handling mishaps, and they use a glass scratch system to repair their own inventory. This is the same system I use, it can also remove scratches on mirror glass. Please look up "Gforce". All your questions will be addressed and put to rest. Best Wishes.Charles Givas
Owner / Operator since 1986 - Spokane,Washington
Ed. note: Thanks very much, Charles. That was a very helpful exposition! But this site is for technical discussion and we don't do testimonials that one brand is better than their competitors. That often leads to a race to the bottom as shills, even posing as satisfied customers, try to out-claim each other. So readers should also please search for "glass scratch removal system" to see what the other suppliers say about their systems compared to the Gforce system. Thanks again!
September 18, 2009
A. FWIW, I've just had success removing sandpaper scratches - a home improvement boo-boo - from my bathroom mirror using Ultrabrite toothpaste and baking soda! I found a list of toothpaste abrasiveness ranked by RDA value and Ultrabrite was one of the highest. I used a small piece of moist cotton jersey with a dab of Ultrabrite, a dusting of baking soda and more than a little elbow grease. It's taken a few days working at it off and on but the scratches are 95% or more gone. I am very happy that the mirror won't have to be replaced.
- Austin, Texas
May 21, 2010
A. Not sure who started the idea that scratched glass repair can be performed with toothpaste, but its ridiculous! I have personally done repairs on windows and glass that others have tried this toothpaste remedy. Obviously, if I was there, it didn't completely work. It MAY take out SUPERFICIAL scratches and thats it. However, if you're talking about scratches from sandpaper, fabricating debris, window washers scrapers, etc., then No, it's not going to work.
Call a professional. Make sure you check their references. Many upstart companies copy content and pictures from others websites. We know because it's happened to us 6 times now! We finally got an attorney on them now. Anyway, large areas of glass cannot be fixed quickly by just any scratched glass repair guys. Also, make sure the repairs are viewed in the afternoon or evening sun. 99% of them will not look too great. There will be obvious haze, swirls,and even distortion. All scratched glass repair is not the same. Do your homework, check the references and check their pictures. Go by the jobs they are claiming they did or call and verify.
Unfortunately, what we are finding is that people can say whatever they want on the internet and there is no policing to confirm their claims. Do your homework. We hope this helps.Rick Evans
- Los Angeles, California
July 5, 2010
A. Hi Guys!
I've just found this thread and feel I have to post as some of the advice given is, say, lacking...
There is, in my mind, only two ways of getting scratches out of glass, whether it be automotive or household:
1. Call the professionals, or;
2. Do it yourself...
To DIY, you need just one 'magic' ingredient; Cerium Oxide.
There are plenty of scratch removal kits available but, it is cheaper to buy the items that you'll need individually, tailored to your particular job in hand. I'll leave the Cerium Oxide till the end of the list so I can give a little more of an explanation as to what it is, and its most common uses.
For any job, you will need:
1. An electric or cordless drill - max. 2000 rpm. Slower the better, more control;
2. Backing pad - 2, 3 or 5 inch depending on the job in hand;
3. Felt polishing pad - to match the size of the backing pad above. Note: There are several types of felt pad on the market but, in this case, you'll need one that's preferably made of Rayon fibre and impregnated with resin on one side to give a faster cutting action and quality finish;
4. A damp cloth, and a dry cloth - to clean off the affected area from time to time to check on your progress;
5. Cerium Oxide - whether in powder form or already mixed into a compound.
Cerium Oxide (also known as ceric oxide, ceria, cerium oxide or cerium dioxide) is an oxide of the rare earth metal cerium. It is used to polish glass and stone, amongst other things. Quite a versatile little substance, is our little Cerium Oxide. It's appearance is of a very fine white powder. It is widely used to polish ophthalmic lenses (mass production and prescription) and optical lenses.
As to which Cerium Oxide powder to buy, I will advise thus... The one which I use (yes, I have done this before! :D ) is 'CEROX 1663 Cerium Oxide'. I think it is available in the US, but if not, look for a high-grade product. High-grade = more money, I'm afraid... :( It may be a good idea to ask at a hardware/polishing supply store or a polishing company if they can help you in your quest. If all else fails, I buy my supplies from www.glasspolishshop.com. They do supply to the States. By the way, CEROX 1663 has, according to the manufacturer, three main advantages;
* A high polishing efficiency which permits use at low concentrations.
* A very high cleanliness which gives polished surfaces without any scratches.
* Excellent suspension properties.
And I agree with all of the above! :D Well, it works just fine for me. :)
This stuff is really great, but as we're using it ourselves and we're not experts - on the most part ;) - then we have to take some precautions during use.
First of all, attach the felt pad to the backing pad and insert into drill. Secondly, if you bought powder, mix it into a watery paste to make the Cerium Oxide compound, and if you bought a prepared compound, start shaking the container vigorously until all the sludge is thoroughly mixed. If you do buy powder then the best way to use it is to put some of the Cerium Oxide powder into a small bottle and add enough water to enable you to shake and thoroughly mix. More water, better than not enough.
Whilst using the Cerium Oxide compound (referred to as 'compound' from now on) you must not let it dry out! You can either add a little more of the compound mix or add a little water to the felt pad to reactivate. Also, if you are going to use it on a wind-shield for instance, do not allow any of the compound to get on the paintwork, as it's an abrasive little beast! :) You can remove it from paintwork by delicately dabbing it up with a moist sponge or wash the area down with plenty of water.
Now comes the fun part, or the scary part, whichever you prefer... ;)
Pour a small amount of the thoroughly mixed compound onto the felt pad, press to the affected area, start the drill and keep it moving over the area for repair. Note: If you have a drill which has a lower speed setting, then all the better - high speeds give you less control and aid in distributing the compound all over yourself and your surroundings! :)
Important! DO NOT apply too much pressure to the glass! If you're working on a large pane of glass at home it is more likely to break than a car wind-shield if you put excess pressure on it. At this point, I'm not going to suggest any methods for making sure you don't apply too much pressure on the job as it's a very subjective thing - what may work for me, may not work for you. Just be careful and remember one thing; you'll know when you've applied too much pressure... That was a joke! ;)
Important! DO NOT allow the glass to overheat! This also means that you should not polish in one place for too long. Heat will either break, distort, discolour (correct spelling, I'm a Brit! ;) ) or do something else undesirable to the glass. As a rule of thumb, if the glass feels hot to the touch, that is, if it's uncomfortable to touch the area you've been polishing for more than a second or two, then you've reached the limit and will have to let the glass cool down. Depending on the thickness of the glass, you can usually get away with polishing for 30-40 seconds in one place. As long as you keep moving the felt pad over the glass and by that time it would probably be prudent to check on your progress.
Well, I think that's it from me... :)
I hope I've been as informative as I can but, if not, then post a question and I will endeavour to answer as soon as possible.
I know it's an old thread but, I hope that someone, sometime gets to read it and it helps them to polish some scratch out of something. If this is the case, drop a post and say 'Hi!'. :)
- Birmingham, West Midlands, England
August 4, 2010
Q. I have a large aquarium. The front of the glass seems to have minuscule points (holes) that are collecting algae. It looks like hundreds of little specs of green. You can't rub the algae off and can't feel the specs, but I tried a (don't laugh) toilet bowl cleaner that burned like fire if you got it on your hands. It "ate" the algae up in no time and the glass looked clean again, but then algae started growing again and now I have all those little green points on the glass. I think I need to smooth out the glass so the algae can't get in there. I thought about jewelers rouge until I read about CEROX 1663. If you have any ideas how to smooth this glass out, I would appreciate it. (Oh, and Algae eaters can't get to it_.Crystal Reilly
Medical - Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
September 28, 2010
A. I agree with much of what Richard wrote. However, I would not attempt to remove a scratch from any piece of glass thinner than 3/16". In addition, I would not try to remove a scratch from a piece of glass that was not supported fully underneath the area I was working on. Exceptions to this would be laminated or tempered glass, which might accidentally break but would pose less of an injury threat.
"If the scratch can be felt with a fingernail, it is probably too deep to remove by polishing alone. You will need to grind out the scratch with progressively finer grit. This is a more specialised (and tedious!) job and it may be best to seek the advice of professionals in these cases."
Crystal, your glass is probably OK. What you are likely seeing is just a concentration point for the algae. Clean as needed. I used to use a Scotch-Brite type scrubbing pad that had a course side and was used for cleaning Teflon coated pans.
I worked with all types of glass for about 30 years.
- Deming, New Mexico, USA
January 1, 2011
A. The process of "Polishing glass" is an art, i.e., you need lots of practice. The basics are the materials. Using SILICON CARBIDE WET OR DRY sandpaper. using a spray bottle to keep the glass wet and also cleaning the debris from the glass as you sand, you start with the largest grit you feel is necessary, usually around p800 for scratches you can feel with your finger nail. You progressively move to finer grits, i.e., 800 then 1000, to 1500, to 2000, then CERIUM OXIDE powder. the cerium oxide powder is the key to polishing the glass. it should be a HIGH Quality powder being above 90% cerium oxide, the closer to 100% the better. the higher the grade of cerium will work faster to polish the glass.
the art of polishing glass is the key to not destroying your glass. try to find a technique chart for grinding optical glass. follow it to the letter. practice on a magnifying glass and look at a grid with it after you've practiced on it for a day. if the grid looks uniform (meaning that it's symmetrically distorted) you're ready.
Flat glass is the easiest to master.
Watch videos of polishing windshields YouTube to see demonstrations.
- Olympia, Washington, usa
June 21, 2011
A. Really late to this response by a couple years, but in case someone happens to see it like me; any polishing of the glass will not remove the scratch. It just makes it less noticeable by making it clearer again. The graffiti will still be there unless you sanded the rest of the glass even with it. Windshield repairs use a clear finish to fill the hole and make it even with the rest of the glass to make it the least noticeable... In a shop window, just for aesthetics, I would recommend a replacement, unless it's a recurring problem. Then the best solution would be polishing. It would be time consuming, but certainly the least expensive on a hard goods purchasing standpoint...Sean m [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania united states
July 14, 2011
DO NOT USE SCOTCH SCRATCHING PAD 9, THE GREEN AND YELLOW ONES WITH THE SCRATCHING SIDE IS GREEN AND THE SPONGE SIDE IS YELLOW. That is what scratched my windshield by using the green side to get bugs and oil off my windshield and hence why I'm looking here to fix it!!!! DO NOT USE THOSE ON GLASS!!TONI RICHARDSON
- SNOHOMISH WASHINGTON
September 29, 2011
A. I have read with interest many of the entries in this blog; many are incorrect. Glass can be restored, even tempered glass. Jewelers rouge will take forever, tooth paste will leave a haze, and rookies beware. It is a skill to polish glass. If you want to learn the trade, be prepared to fail several times. Or call a pro. It is not cheap, but usually much cheaper than replacement. I routinely polish all kinds of glass with scratches up to 2/1000" deep. You can catch a nail on 1/4 that depth.Barry Steven
glass restoration - Sarasota Florida USA
December 11, 2011
A. I have a shower mirror that had gotten to the point that it was unusable due to the hardness of the water in our area. I tried everything that I could think of to remove the hardness. One of the most effective methods was to use a razor blade, the sharper the better. I pushed the blade into the dullest part of the mirror. I also tried concentrated hydrochloric acid thinking that this would dissolve the calcium carbonate. The mirror is much better than when I started but still not ideal. Apparently, some of the scale was calcium sulfate. The last method that I've tried has given me the best results. I put a water paste of diatomaceous earth on a power buffer and was able to achieve a high degree of polish. There are safety concerns with all of methods that I have described. Obviously, goggles, facemask, gloves, etc. should be utilized. If you have doubts...leave it to the professionals.Marty Siegel
- Sugar Land, Texas, USA
December 29, 2011
Q. I have read the posts as I am looking for advice to fix scratches on a mirror that I accidentally made while sanding the wood around it. I am going to try the jewelers rouge and the buffing kit with my dremel. We will see. I will follow up when I am finished. As to other posts regarding hard water and mineral stains on shower and other glass. I have your answer. My housekeeper cleaned my shower (it was mostly white from years of staining and nothing had worked to clean it so I gave up trying) she used a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] (the heavy duty one) and to my surprise the glass is completely clear again. Amazing! I now use those things on everything. Works great on pyrex dishes and stainless steel also. Hope this helps.Missy Griffith
- Coalinga, California
August 12, 2012
A. This is an article I found and will try tomorrow. You can get the rouge through Amazon or a jewelry making tool supply company. Don't waste your time looking at the hardware stores ... I did, and they do not carry it.
"Save money by fixing scratches and cracks in your car windshield yourself with these instructions ... [deleted by editor]"
- Sunnyvale, California, USA
Ed. note: Thanks Kim. But you can't cut & paste an article from one website to another -- it's a copyright violation (and takes revenue away from the author). So we abbreviated your posting and note that the article you quoted was www.essortment.com/yourself-repair-auto-glass-scratches-12056.html
March 1, 2013
A. There are now legal building codes that mandate where tempered glass must be installed. By reference thereto many localities have adopted the International Property Maintenance Code as may be found online. A local engineering inspector assessment of damage may determine that replacement is the only allowable remedy.Edward Lee
- Jackson, North Carolina, U.S.A.
June 13, 2014
A. I once prepared metal specimens for microscopic inspection. What I learned was that the first abrasive must be somewhere in the realm of being able to make scratches almost as deep as the one trying to be removed.
Successive grits must be used in between. A big factor with deep scratches is the distortion in the surface after your done. Some abrasives work only on certain materials.
If the final abrasive isn't fine enough on glass the outcome will be a milky appearance.
If you make the initial choice to start scratching something with an abrasive, you might be making the problem much worse. If you don't have the right material to finish the job, you'll have to be prepared for it to stay that way.
- St Petersburg, Florida, USA
March 26, 2015
A. I have been in the glazing industry for 30 years now and i have polished deep scratches out of float, toughened and laminated glass for years. The best method is using Cerium Oxide with a drill that is converted to use a felt polishing wheel; you mix the cerium oxide with water, then apply to the polishing wheel and then polish the scratch. Keep applying the water and cerium oxide to the glass; as the glass gets very hot and may crack or shatter, so try to keep it cool.
Experience in this is definitely required. If you over-polish the scratch in one small area then you can create a bullseye effect which distorts the vision through the glass.
Hope this helps.
Double Glazing - newcastle upon Tyne, UK
June 24, 2015
I am appalled at the answers posted here. Many claiming to have knowledge have none. I suggest that you read a book on amateur telescope making.
2. fine grinding. Go back through the grits, finer and finer. Inspect the glass surface with a magnifier to be sure that each grade of sandpaper has removed all roughness from the previous grit. Keep it wet when you are grinding. If the wastewater runs off milky from powdered glass, you are doing it right. Work through finer and finer grits, ending with #1200. #1200 carbo wet/dry paper is hard to find in California (I assume you are in California because you are a victim of vandalism), but I have found it in Colorado. The border police did not confiscate it when I came home.
3. polishing. Do not attempt polishing until you have completed fine grinding. You can do it wet or dry. On my dad's windshield I used a wet pitch lap because I was working on a telescope mirror at the time. I built it on a real silver dollar, but you can use any foundation you like. polishing with a slurry of cerium oxide cleared up the glass in about a half hour. On the storefront, I used cerium oxide dry on an opthalmic polishing pad. It scratched the glass and I had to redo fine grinding. Then I tried cerium oxide wet on the opthalmic polishing pad; same result. A pitch polishing tool did the trick and cleared up the frost.
Consider making a tool out of a battery powered hand drill. A disk sanding accessory can support a grinding or a polishing tool.
WARNING! Be careful when reading the book on amateur telescope making. Persons have beebn known to become addicted to that terrible bad habit!
Optical Propulsion Laboratory - hawthorne california usa