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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    19

    Default How do you polish stainless ??

    Hey there guys.

    I am working on some parts for a boat project of mine and feel like I may be wasting my time.

    Question: will all Stainless steel tube and stock polish to a mirror finish ??
    I try to snatch up any 316L s/s surplus from a local supplier when ever it is in the reminents bin so the materials are unpolished and some times rough.

    I have some 2 in tube (not sure if it is 316 or 304) any way there is a deep grain pattern that looks like a brushed finish, that won't sand out I have tried scotch brite pads Brown/Maroon/Blue then 150, 220, 320 sand paper. I even made a fixture to attach short legenths of tube to my bench grinder to act as a lathe for the purpose of spinning the tube. So that is one problem, the other is some 1in x .125 flat stock it has a scaley s/s mil finish and it is 316L I would really like to get all the parts to a mirror finish.

    I do have a large buffer and rouge for the final polish, but could use some advise on how to get it good for the final high shine polish.

    Thanks
    Mark

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Eugene, Oregon
    Posts
    2,428

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pescaloco
    Question: will all Stainless steel tube and stock polish to a mirror finish ??
    It's called electropolishing.

    http://www.google.com/search?sourcei...tainless+steel
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    19

    Default

    Thanks KB

    What do you think of the possible results of a combination of abrasives then black or green rouge on a sizel wheel then white rouge on a sewn cotton wheel.

    I know a Marine fabricator friend of mine (he has since droped out of sight, or i would ask) Used to be a master of hand polishing with amazing results, but I'm not sure what his process was.

    Thanks

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Anchorage AK
    Posts
    344

    Default

    I use a polishing wheel and polishing rouge.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Eugene, Oregon
    Posts
    2,428

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pescaloco View Post
    Thanks KB

    What do you think of the possible results of a combination of abrasives then black or green rouge on a sizel wheel then white rouge on a sewn cotton wheel.

    I know a Marine fabricator friend of mine (he has since droped out of sight, or i would ask) Used to be a master of hand polishing with amazing results, but I'm not sure what his process was.

    Thanks
    I personally think it would be a chore to get a finish like you are wanting by manual processes. Not to say it can't be done but a chore and time consuming nonetheless. If you don't mind the work then I say give it a shot. I guess it all depends on what you are willing to do.

    If it's just a one time gig for these parts then it maybe isn't worth going the electropolish route but if you are going to be doing any kind of production work, I would seriously look into it.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Mpls, MN
    Posts
    1,790

    Default

    You need to have a pretty decent surface finish before you electropolish or it will still come out looking rough...
    Last edited by Admin; 12-15-2008 at 01:32 PM. Reason: Catty remark edited to be factual
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Central Iowa
    Posts
    72

    Default

    You are going to need some hp to get to a #8 finish.

    First it needs to be sanded probably at least 80 grit to start (on the mill finish). Try to sand in one direction (not a radom or DA). Then work up thru the grits. The #4 finish (brushed) should have been put downwith about 120 grit and finished with maroon scotch brite so you can probaly start about 180grit.

    if you have a low power buffer you'll probably need to sand out to 1000 or 1200 grit. Changing direction to cross your sand lines each grit.

    Then you'll need to start buffing with a siasal wheel with SS buffing (black usually) compound. Once all the sanding lines are gone move to a green coumpound on a stiff cotton buff. Once all those lines are gone use white compound on a softer cotton buff. Again if you can cross the buffing lines each time it will be better.

    It can be really tuff without the hp for buffing. My buffing lathes are 7 and 10 hp motors so a 1/3 hp bench grinder isn't going to cut it.

    Or PM me and you can just send the parts to me and I'll polish them.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    19

    Default

    thanks for the replies Etonline and all.

    To be a little more specific the the tube that has a brushed finish I have made a fixture and and coupled to the spindle on the bench grinder to turn the tube then using and air powered die grinder with different scotch pads to sand out, then with hand held paper tried to further sand out.
    My problem is even with scotchbrites and paper as fine as 320g it still looks brush finished no real improvemnt. "But" I took a piece of polished stock I had hit it with the blue scotch brite on the die grinder then a grey scotch hand pad it ofcourse lost some shine, but and it looked like it was ready for the buffer and some rouge.

    Etonline I do have a Baldor ext. spindle pedastal mount buffer (3)hp I think, what kind of finish or to what grit would you recommend I sand to, I"m not sure to what level the buffer will remove scraches

    Thanks
    Mark

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    San Diego
    Posts
    375

    Default

    In my experience, there is no easy way to polish stainless steel by hand.
    You must first eliminate any grains/scratches, then painstakingly progress through the paces until you reached the desired polish. If you start to skip steps, you are most likely fooling yourself. The scratches will soon magically resurface. You'll see.

    If faced with anything more than a small piece, I generally consider it false economy to attempt to polish the material by hand, rather than paying up front for #8 material. It all depends on the combination of your money and time. What you save in surplus pricing leads you to a polishing eternity.

    Good luck.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    3

    Default

    Just look at "The Bean" in Chicago. I can't remeber how many months it took to polish it. Does anyone rember?

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