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Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help & suggestions

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  • Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help & suggestions

    Hello all! Looking for some guidance on what products to finish my gun barrel with.

    With a rotary tool, Heavy Metal liquid polish (green/medium), and felt wheels I was able to get to this point, after over 6 hours on just this section:


    On this one section I've been able to get a distorted/hazy mirror finish (total 6 hours), the rest I left at a shiny satin nickel -ish finish (about 4 hours).
    Maybe it's just the polish I'm using but I'm sure it's the rotary tool, if not both.

    What wheels and tool options do I have available to me? The actual barrel itself could take 6 inch wheels I think but what can I use for the nooks and crannies? Will the drill attachments allow me to get a mirror finish? Any specific tips or pointers?

    I'm new to buffing/polishing but it's something I'd like to end up doing to a number of items around the house in the future.

    Thanks for your help, greatly appreciated!

  • #2
    Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help & suggestions

    First off, most gun parts are made out of pretty hard steel, which is harder to polish.

    I'm not sure what I'm looking at in your photograph; it's a little confusing. What's that bright white patch in the middle?

    To give you much advice we will need more info as to the present finish: Is it already dead smooth and blued, or is it a rough "military" finish? Some more photos of the rest of the gun would help a lot.

    I can say that if you have worked that long on it then you are not using an aggressive enough abrasive. In 10 hours even a Dremel tool would have accomplished a lot with the proper abrasive.

    Richard

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help & suggestions

      Sorry, the bright white patch is photo editing. I didn't know what the numbers were so I erased them.

      Basically I spent 4 hours removing the melonite finish from the entire barrel, then two more hours the next day trying my best to mirror just that section in first post. The whole thing is reflective at an angle, but not mirrored. I'm at the point where I need to know what tools/items to buy because I'm *hoping* there are tools that will get this done more quickly. For example: a 1/3 hp buffer polisher. Except my guess is that the 6 inch wheels are too big for this little an item, with it's crevices? So am I limited to using a dremel or should I buy wheels/attachments to use in a drill?
      Heck, just pretend I don't have a dremel....If you owned no tools for doing the job, what would you purchase?

      Here's some more pics, taken after the initial 4 hours removing the melonite:

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help & suggestions


        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help & suggestions

          I'm thinking it's the serial number, and I'm wondering why you would erase the serial number.

          Richard

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help & suggestions

            Originally posted by Rasper View Post
            I'm thinking it's the serial number, and I'm wondering why you would erase the serial number.

            Richard

            It was done in the photo editing process, like I said. I "erased" it...with the "erasing" tool...in Photoshop.
            <frustrated>
            I'm not trying to remove the serial number from the barrel. I just thought it would be smarter to not share the serial number of my barrel with the entire world. Seeing as I'm getting absolutely zero help with polishing in a polishing forum I'm thinking that was a smart idea. See the pic from post #1, where I left the first part of the serial number visible.


            For some reason - unknown to me - the help I'm seeking is not coming across. Let me try asking a different way...

            "My friend" wants to polish the barrel of his pistol to a mirror finish. He doesn't own any polishing tools. What tools should I tell him to buy? He wants to get the job done in as little time as possible and is not sure whether using a polisher/buffer with 6 inch wheels would reach the tiny crevices of the outside of the barrel. Please advise.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help &amp; suggestions

              I get your frustration. Your explanation seems to hold water. I don't suppose I would want to broadcast the serial numbers of my guns across the internet either.

              A bench mounted 1/3 hp buffing machine with 6 or 8 inch wheels is the basic tool of a metal polisher. If you are planning to polish metal on an ongoing basis then you should buy one.

              If you have an air compressor, a die grinder is an absolute must have. If you don't have air, then an electric die grinder would be nice, but they cost a lot, whereas air tools are dirt cheap, and they are better too. For what you would pay for a good electric die grinder, you could almost buy a compressor and an air grinder. Cheap electric grinders are a waste of money; they don't hold up.
              A die grinder with 2 inch buffs is great for small pieces.

              For steel, a Dremel is not up to it. If you can't see fit to get a die grinder then an electric drill with 2, 3, or 4 inch buffs will do. Don't use your good drill; get a used Black and Decker or Craftsman on Craig's List. Electric drill bearings are not designed for lateral thrust, which is what you give it when buffing. It doesn't matter if you ruin the bearings in a 10 dollar Craig's list drill. You just throw it in the trash and get another one.

              The thing I see that will offer the most difficulty is that some of what you want to polish appears to need grinding or sanding, which can cause irreparable damage if done incorrectly.

              Even for expert polishers, being in a hurry is a recipe for disaster. If you are not willing to go forward slowly, and if you find you don't enjoy the work of polishing, you had best have it done by someone who does, for your gun's sake.

              Richard

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help &amp; suggestions

                Originally posted by pepsi View Post

                It was done in the photo editing process, like I said. I "erased" it...with the "erasing" tool...in Photoshop.
                <frustrated>
                I'm not trying to remove the serial number from the barrel. I just thought it would be smarter to not share the serial number of my barrel with the entire world. Seeing as I'm getting absolutely zero help with polishing in a polishing forum I'm thinking that was a smart idea. See the pic from post #1, where I left the first part of the serial number visible.


                For some reason - unknown to me - the help I'm seeking is not coming across. Let me try asking a different way...

                "My friend" wants to polish the barrel of his pistol to a mirror finish. He doesn't own any polishing tools. What tools should I tell him to buy? He wants to get the job done in as little time as possible and is not sure whether using a polisher/buffer with 6 inch wheels would reach the tiny crevices of the outside of the barrel. Please advise.
                i suppose you know that using that type of bold letters is considered as yelling at us . that is not a good way to make friends on a forum .
                as for your hand gun polishing it is like trying to kill an elephant with a rubber band . if you want to get decent results you need first to sand down any and all imperfections in the metal until it is perfectly smooth ,then you can start polishing and buffing .
                if you are new to polishing you would be better off starting with some easier and softer aluminium parts .
                tools you would need would be a polisher with 3 ,4 and 6 inch wheels , a die grinder with cartridge rolls and small buffing wheels , a DA sander with assortments of sanding discs ranging from grit 80 to 600 and a couple of buffing bars .
                http://www.peintureenpoudrepb.com
                http://www.polissagepb.com
                http://www.powdercoatpb.com
                baz

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help &amp; suggestions

                  Very very cool info. THANK YOU! A die grinder has always been on my list of things to get, here's but another reason.

                  I'd might as well get a 1/3 hp buffing machine now, as I have various plastic items, aluminum items, etc to polish.

                  I don't yet have a suitable air compressor. I have small ones for tires and little jobs but nothing that can adequately run a real tool for any length of time. That's something I still have to research more. My options are limited to 120v in the garage but even then it shouldn't be too bad. Again, something to research more.

                  I haven't sanded the barrel at all. Yup, there's a couple places that I agree should be sanded before I proceed. I was thinking start with 1500 grit, go up to 2000 grit, then polish the rest. Looks like others have used wet/dry sandpaper with a little bit of oil for barrel polishing. Unless you advise otherwise I'll try that.

                  Hmmmm....thinking more about it I think I'm going to skip the die grinder for now. I was looking at prices for electric ones and that's too steep for one tool (for my needs), and I just can't bring myself to get a good compressor yet.
                  As far as I can tell here's my list:

                  - 1/3 hp buffer
                  - Spiral Sewn Wheel(s)
                  - Loose Cotton Wheel(s)
                  - White Compound
                  - Blue Compound
                  - Assorted Felt Bob Kit (Caswell part #ASSFB1150)
                  - 2" Shank Mounted Wheel (Caswell part #SMW400; very last thing on the page - that looks like piled cotton in the pic...do you know if it is?)
                  - Sandpaper (various grits: 1000, 1500, 2000)

                  I'm thinking after sanding, the three large flat areas and the cylinder of the barrel can be hit with the 6 inch wheels. For the small areas (like where the cylinder meets the block section) I'll use the drill & bobs.
                  What do you think? Can this job be tackled with the above items?
                  Also, can regular polishes (white & blue compounds) be used on the drill bobs, or should I use something else (Flitz, etc)?

                  I agree wholeheartedly with your caution towards being careful with a barrel. The last thing I want to do it ruin the darn thing. :P I'm trying my hardest to avoid rounding any corners or altering the shape. I definitely don't want to rush it but the dremel was killing me.

                  Sorry for acting like a baby. My gun forum - where others have done this - has been absolutely no help. Another forum I asked on was absolutely no help. I was getting frustrated in general with the whole ordeal, nothing specific and certainly nothing from this forum.
                  Thanks a ton for your help! You've already provided more info than I've gotten in the two weeks prior to joining here.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help &amp; suggestions

                    Originally posted by baz View Post
                    i suppose you know that using that type of bold letters is considered as yelling at us . that is not a good way to make friends on a forum .
                    Pretttttttty stupid, I realize that. I was mentally facepalming the next day after I reread it, past the editing timeframe. Completely my mistake, has absolutely nothing to do with you guys or this forum. No excuse.
                    I found out yesterday where my frustration was coming from. In the threads on my gun forum some people were posting pictures of their mirrored barrels showing the end result, others were saying they were able to polish their's with a dremel in an hour and a half. Those that got it done in an hour and a half with a dremel: they were just polished shiny, not mirrored. Grrrrrr. lol
                    The worst part is I'm finding out only one or two of those mirrored barrels were actual done by their owners. Most of them sent the barrel away to a shop for like $50 and 6-8 weeks. I'd much rather try doing it myself than pay $50 and be without my barrel for two months. Granted I've a risk of screwing it up, but I get to learn something in the process so that's something I'm willing to live with.

                    +1 on "trying to kill an elephant with a rubber band" roflmao

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help &amp; suggestions

                      The SMW400 appears to be a cotton buff on a 1/4 shank to use in a drill or die grinder.

                      You would use the same compounds on the bobs as you use on the 6 inch wheels.

                      You may find that 1000 grit is not aggressive enough, but it's better to begin with too fine an abrasive than too coarse.

                      Richard

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help &amp; suggestions

                        from what i see on the pics you will need much coarser grit than your 1000 , probably a180 grit on a da sander would be a good starting point .
                        you would also need a more agressive compound , keep in mind here that you are working with some hard steel and not a soft material so if you want to get that part done before the end of the year you better work with more agressive products . forget about the liquid compounds and the flitz those are kids stuff just good enough to clean previously polished parts.
                        http://www.peintureenpoudrepb.com
                        http://www.polissagepb.com
                        http://www.powdercoatpb.com
                        baz

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help &amp; suggestions

                          Thanks guys! I've got 220 all the way up to 3000 grit. I also ordered a polisher, a bunch of wheels, a bunch of bobs, and 6 different compounds. If I can't get this job done I know it's me and not the tools. ;D I hope to receive everything by the weekend. I'll post pics of progress (and probably ask questions throughout).

                          Sanding is going to be done by hand. I couldn't go so far as to justify buying a DA small enough to handle the small areas/tight spaces precisely. I expect to be spending a very large amount of time with the papers.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help &amp; suggestions

                            Sorry for the delay. The sanding took a while by hand (no surprise) but I also took my time, doing 20 minutes or 1/2 hour every few days or so.

                            Just put the finishing touches on tonight. Out-freaking-standing!

                            Ended up going down all the way to 220 grit and working my way up.
                            220, 320, 400, 600, 800, 1000... I was planning on going up to 3000 but at 1500 there wasn't enough grit to the paper to remove the 1000 marks. The steel from the barrel is so strong it wore the grit right off the paper.
                            Luckily at that point the polishing was able to remove the 1000 marks with no effort and brought it to a beautiful finish (wheels/polishes mentioned in prior post). It's not perfect, but from more than a foot away it looks it.
                            Not too bad for no experience polishing. Because of the closeness of the photos you can still kind of see the polishing on the cylinder isn't as well done as the polishing on the flat parts.
                            Here's the results:

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Polishing my handgun barrel to mirror finish: help &amp; suggestions

                              ...And here's two more (it tell me I'm limited to 2 pics per post). The last pic is exactly the result I was going for.




                              Thank you guys! Could not have done it without your advice!!!

                              Comment

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