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Handheld polisher? kind of long.

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  • Handheld polisher? kind of long.

    Ok I'm new to this metal polishing stuff, so please forgive my ignorance.

    I've been trying to polish up the wheels on my Jeep, they are forged aluminum wheels made by Weld racing. I'm having fairly good success so far but it is very slow going with my existing tools. I've used the search here and read through many threads. I've found lots of info on technique but little on handheld equipment. I want to do this with a handheld unit of some type.

    What I have tried so far:

    1. a drill with a 4" buff, painfully slow, I have a hard time even getting the wheel to a accept compound.

    2. a cheap air powered die grinder, works much better but not really powerfull enough, it slows down or stalls easily.

    3. dremel tool, works great with the 1" buff for tight areas but not practicle for entire wheel.

    Ok now for the question. What should I buy to make this job go a little faster.

    Things I have considered. (and what I see as possible problems for each).

    1. buy a better quality die grinder that will give me more power. (not absolutly sure I could get better power with a good one).

    2. buy the flexible shaft grinder that caswell has for sale here.

    (I think this would be great for the tight places but I'm not sure if it has the power to turn a larger buffing wheel for the big areas).

    3. buy an automotive polisher or electric grinder that i would have to adapt somehow to use a buffing wheel. (not sure if I can get one in the correct RPM range, it seems polishers are too slow and grinders too fast).

    4. get a flex shaft to use with my bench grinder (expensive).

    Hope someone can point me in the right direction.

  • #2
    I use a drill that turns 2850rpm and a bench grinder at 3500rpm, both with 6" and 8" buffs. I'm working on my motorcycle wheels right now and get good results from both.


    • #3
      Hi Guy's ,
      I'm also new to the world of polishing . My main projects are the wheels on my bike and pick-up . My first attempt at polishing was with a 8" yellow airflex buff with white compound mounted to a 4amp 2250rpm drill motor. This gave me good results, but the wheels were already in pretty good shape . The other day I purchased a 7" electric sander/polisher with a 6 amp 3300 rpm motor from Harbor Freight Tools . I repolished my bike's wheels with the new motor, starting out with tripoli compound on a spiral sewen wheel then I moved on to a yellow airflex buff with the white compound. this new set up made a big difference. The final step I did was to go over the wheel by hand with Amsoil metal polish. Now my wheels have a chrome like finish.
      Hope this helps


      • #4
        Answers to your questions:
        1.The die grinder will most likely not have any more power than the one you are using now.
        2.I have this tool. Flexible shaft is GREAT for the felt bobs, but it only has .5 amps, so you can't swing a wheel much larger than 3".
        3.Not sure on the RPM range. SFPM = 1/4 x diameter of Wheel x RPM (revs of spindle per min.) Needs to be between 3600 and 7500SFPM
        4.Best option. I have one, works like a charm. || Caswell sells an arbor flex shaft to hook to a high speed drill. I had one and it worked alright, but it can't handle much more than a 4" wheel.

        If you want a light duty alterative that will get the job done, you can get a cheap angle grinder, IE, less than $35. Then you can find a nut that matches the threads on the shaft. Then weld the nut centered onto the back of a long bolt. Then put some wheels on the bolt. Use nuts and washers to keep the wheels where you want them. I did this and it polishes fine. Overheating is a problem and you risk melting the bushings, therefore you will have downtime for tool cooling.


        • #5
          Thanks for the great replies, I really appreciate the information. I just thought I would let you know what I ended up with.

          I went with a combination of advice here. I got a variable speed (1000-3000 RPM) polisher/sander from harbor freight, it is an 11amp motor so it turns 2 stacked 8" buffs at 3000 RPM with no problem at all. To mount the wheels I did as suggested by welding a 5/8" nut that fit the polisher to the head of a 1/2" x 2" bolt that goes through the buffing wheels, it is perfect for stacking the 2 wheels on. The best part is that the polisher was on sale for $30!

          I can't believe the difference this makes, not only do I have the speed I need but I can apply pressure without slowing the motor down. I'm very happy with the results I am getting now.

          Thanks again for the help, hopefully this info will be usefull to others as well.