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Help With Stainless trim polishing

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  • Help With Stainless trim polishing

    I'm driving myself nuts trying to polish some stainless trim. I've tried all sorts of methods, compounds, sanding etc. I ordered compounds and wheels from Caswell and this is by far the best I've done. But I still get a haze that is cut in by the Sisal wheel.

    Here is my procedure on scratched parts. I start with a 6 inch DA wet sander. and work through these grits.


    Before moving from one grit to another I can tilt the sander and get the sanding lines all going the same direction. By changing directions between grits it allows me to see if I have gotten all the previous grits scratches out.

    After 1500 I move on to the wheels.

    My buffer is a 3/4 horse 3450 RPM machine bolted to the floor. I'm using 8inch Caswell wheels. Each of my compounds is stored in a zip lock bag with its wheel, my gloves for that compound and any rags for that compound. No cross contamination.

    I start with a Sisal wheel and Black emery to cut the sanding scratches. Works good but the Sisal seems to be cutting a line in the direction I polish.

    It looks like this after I've cut and colored with the Sisal.

    Next I use Black Emery on a spiral sewn wheel. Cut and color. It lessens the line but doesn't remove it.

    Then on to Green on a Spiral sewn wheel cut and color.

    The part looks great until I hit a certain angle in the light.

    Looks good looking straight on or in full sun.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Re: Help With Stainless trim polishing

    But at a certain angle the hazy lines show back up. (the downward lines are a smudge) I'm talking about the lines running the length of the part.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!!


    • #3
      Re: Help With Stainless trim polishing

      if you have done ok with the sanding up to 1500 then i would not use a sisal Wheel, in fact you might even skip the Emery and go directly to the green but you will have to try it out to see if it works for you.
      i can go from 600 grit directly to green on stainless trims but that is with a 3 hp buffer and many years of experience
      i think you should give it a try , skipping from 1500 to the green should be feasable but you will need to make sure pressure and the friction generates enough heat to melt the compound on the work piece to be able to polish down the sanding marks . then once the sanding lines are gone you can apply less pressure and less compound .


      • #4
        Re: Help With Stainless trim polishing

        I have gone from sanding to green but it doesn't seem to cut the sanding marks.

        I even went from 1500 to the sisal. Then went to 2000 grit to get rid of the lines. Which worked but the green wouldn't cut the 2000 grit marks.

        I'll be happy to buy a faster buffer if it will fix the problem.

        I'm on a mission and hate to fail.


        • #5
          Re: Help With Stainless trim polishing

          i don t think that the speed of the buffer is the problem.
          is your buffer strong enough so you can put a good amount of pressure without the motor stalling .
          also when polishing stainless steel you need a firm Wheel without being too agressive.
          some wheels have a row of stiches every inch but a firmer Wheel would have a row of stiches every 1/2 inch.
          maybe you are not applying enough compound to the work piece ,

          i don t see any other reason why you would not be able to remove 2000 grit lines with green compoound



          • #6
            Re: Help With Stainless trim polishing

            Just measured my spiral sewn wheels. It's about 3/8 between stitches.
            Maybe it is a combination of pressure and amount of compound. I can flatten the wheel out pretty good before stalling it.

            I did a lot of reading before starting and remember reading that if you flatten the wheel out to much the compound can't do its job. Also I've been trying to avoid an excess build up of compound. I figured if I can see a greasy film after each cut pass there is enough on the wheel.

            I'll try more pressure and more compound.


            • #7
              Re: Help With Stainless trim polishing

              I don't why I didn't do this sooner but a refrigerator magnet sticks to this stuff. So it's either low grade stainless or somehow I've magnatised it in the polishing process.


              If it's low grade will it ever polish correctly?


              • #8
                Re: Help With Stainless trim polishing

                It will polish. It's not low grade; it's just a different type. Knife blades are made of magnetic stainless.

                I polish a good bit of stainless. I sand to 600 and then use a coarse compound made for stainless. I find that emery (black) breaks down too fast (the emery abrasive is not hard enough). Stainless compound is made with aluminum oxide. A wheel with 3/8 inch stitches with an aluminum oxide compound will make pretty quick work of 600 grit scratches. Then a finer stainless compound to finish it off.

                I use very little compound on my wheels and rake them every few minutes. If I move the piece down and back and there is any compound remaining on the piece, I have too much compound on the wheel.

                The biggest problem most people have with stainless is that they don't sand out previous grit scratches before moving up to a finer grit paper. Stainless is hard to sand. It eats sandpaper and dull sandpaper is useless on it. I typically sand about twice as long as I think I need to and sometimes that is not enough.



                • #9
                  Re: Help With Stainless trim polishing

                  Thanks Richard,

                  Reading your posts over the past several weeks is what got me to tilt my DA sander and get the sanding marks going in one direction to check for scratches from previous grits.

                  I never do this in the direction I'll be buffing so the lines I'm looking at seem to be caused by buffing. They are deeper than anything left after sanding.

                  In this piece I've sanded the upper left corner with 1500 my plan was to go to 2000 in the opposite direction and then try the green like Baz suggested.

                  The lines running the length of the top of this piece are the reflection of my corogated metal ceiling not marks. As you can see after 1500 there are no marks running the length in the top left like there are just below it.

                  Would slightly out of round wheels cause this? My wheels came in out of round. I've raked them heavy, sissor cut them and have them close but not perfect.


                  • #10
                    Re: Help With Stainless trim polishing

                    I tried using a sisal wheel once on stainless and then spent an hour sanding the deep scratches out. I have not used sisal before or since.

                    It seems to me that all an out of round wheel would do that is objectionable would be to vibrate. But I don't recall ever having problems with one so I am not sure.

                    Another thing that must be considered is grit. (Textile mills tend to be filthy places.) Try washing your wheels in hot soapy water. I like to soak mine overnight and then spin them dry the next day.



                    • #11
                      Re: Help With Stainless trim polishing

                      i have had out of round buffing wheels before and they did not seem to be causing any scratches but they did not perform very well because at speed the part can not follow the high and low spots of the Wheel so the the Wheel just kind of float on its high spots .if after raking the Wheel i still get vibrations because it is still out of round i just throw it in the garbage.


                      • #12
                        What machine and sandpaper do you use to wet sand the part? DA with Hook and loop? How about for tight concave surfaces? My arms are about to fall off wet sanding by hand.


                        • #13
                          Sanding stainless by hand is an almost hopeless task. Unless the piece is small, such as a knife blade. You need to use a machine, and lots of fresh sandpaper. Stainless eats sandpaper.



                          • #14
                            I'm in the middle of hopeless. What machine do you use?


                            • #15
                              I answered a personal message regarding this that may be of interest to other people.

                              I just saw an old post of yours about the tools you use to polish stainless. i have a 3" chicago pneumatic hook and loop tool. Do you dry or wet sand the stainless? I was going to buy sandpaper from Online industrial supply. I see they have a black carbon, red, and platinum 3" discs. Which ones do you use?
                              What grit sandpaper to you end with before going to a SS polishing wheel with compound?

                              I answered:

                              My Chicago tool turns between 0 and 2500 RPM.

                              I generally dry sand with 150 and 220. Then I wet sand with 400 and 600, and sometimes 800 if the piece is small.

                              Then I use a fast cutting stainless compound to take out the 600 scratches. Then a finishing green compound.

                              I buy sandpaper in rolls and cut out the 3 inch disks. That brings the cost down to acceptable levels.


                              I have always used the Platinum paper, but they just recently added the red stuff. I will certainly buy that the next time I order. It has heavy duty backing paper. And that hook and loop wet paper is a welcome addition. I had to make a soft pad contraption and glue on the wet paper. That was less than a joy to use.

                              Stainless eats up sandpaper. Stainless is both hard and at the same time acts gummy; neither quality makes for easy sanding or drilling..

                              Where most polishers fail is they don't get out the previous grit scratches COMPLETELY before moving on to a finer grit. Guaranteed failure. It takes more sanding than people think, a lot more sanding.