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topic 20660

Buffing lines appear when polishing aluminum

A discussion started in 2003 but continuing through 2020


Q. I need help with getting the buffing lines out of aluminum from the buffing wheel. I tried Mother's Mag & Aluminum Polish [affil. link to product info on Amazon] after buffing but the rag still leaves marks. I get a good shine at one angle but you look at it at another angle and you see the lines. The piece I am doing is 1/8 in tail wing for a dirt track race car.


William Cramer
- Bellevue, Ohio, U.S.A.


A. William, you will probably have to treat this the same as a good coat of paint. Very fine sanding, buffing compound, polishing compound, fine scratch remover, and wax. If you go from a coarse compound to a very fine, with nothing between, the fine will not take out all the scratches from the course compound.

Good luck,

Ed Kay
- St.Louis, Missouri

affil. link
"Metal Polishing Tips"
from Abe Books



A. Hi. First you must finish the piece by polishing at right angles to eliminate as many scratches as possible. Finish compound should be a rouge with the least amount of cut abrasive in the compound. The wheel must be straight cotton, either spiral sewn or multilayered muslin. Your speed needs to be right, along with the amount of compound on the wheel. To take off the last of the buffing lines, take either a fresh wheel or rake your wheel to remove all compound. Oscillate the part while polishing and finish with a back stroke to pull off the compound. A little known trick of the trade on aluminum is to add ivory soap to the compound which gives a beautiful deep color as well as cleaning streaks. Hope this helps.

Robin Thede
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Q. Aluminum dishware polishing. Hi: I recently obtained aluminum restaurant eating plates. They are very tarnished and I would like to at least get them back to the original aluminum luster. Is this possible at home and how is it done? Thanks.

Robert Camp
Hobbyist - Austin, Texas

November 14, 2011

A. Clean surface is important, flat surfaces are the Hardest (show lines easy if not done properly).
Would like to know what you have to work with (machinery, compounds, wheels or grinder). And what you are working on that you get lines. Possibly more prep, higher RPM tools, or compound.
Have 15 years in this occupation.
Thank you Patrick.

pat bottensek
- Warren Illinois

March 21, 2016

Q. Dishwashing liquid? How do you add this ? This is a new one I've never heard of.

Bernard Gaites
polishing - langley BC Canada

April 25, 2020

Q. I've been custom polishing for over 5 years with awesome results but recently when polishing any fuel tanks I have to polish long and hard to get the mirror shine I'm used to getting (these are on logging trucks in really bad condition). Tanks and rims are extremely pitted from rocks. On bad condition aluminum I use an orbital palm sander with 320, 400 and 600 grit sandpaper. Tanks are very smooth and look like they're in perfect polishing condition ... but once I start, it's like a black film emerges. I think it's from sanding too coarse. If I only use 600 grit on the top of the tanks, I get an incredible shine. Normally it take 1 to 1.5 hours per tank but recently it's more like 3 or 4. Feel like I have to polish really long before it gets through this "layer" then comes an amazing shine. What can I do to reduce my time? To not have this dark layer appear? Any advice is very welcome!

Marten Braun
Polishing - Clairmont Alberta Canada

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