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Home > Autos, Planes & Bikes > Detailing Supplies & Tips > Detailing Tips > Metal Polishing Secrets > Perfect Aluminum Polishing

Perfect Aluminum Polishing

Perfect Aluminum Polishing Aluminum FAQ:

The ancient Greeks and Romans used alum in medicine, as an astringent. Aluminum is the most abundant metal to be found in the earth's crust (8.1%), but is never found free in nature.

Pure aluminum, a silvery-white metal, possesses many desirable characteristics. It is extensively used in thousands of industrial applications where a strong, light, easily constructed material is needed. Pure aluminum is soft and lacks strength, but it can be alloyed with small amounts of copper, magnesium, silicon, manganese, and other elements to impart a variety of useful properties. These alloys are of vital importance in the construction of modern aircraft and rockets.

Aluminum, evaporated in a vacuum, forms a highly reflective coating for both, visible light and radiant heat. These coatings soon form a thin layer of the protective oxide and will not deteriorate like silver coatings. This makes it an extremely durable coating for an endless array of products, equipment and vehicles.

Aluminum is our favorite metal. No matter how much you polish, it always looks better. Aluminum is the metal most responsive to polishing and can produce the most dramatic finish. Let's follow the road to a perfect aluminum finish.

Prepare the surface

Wash the surface to be polished. If it is a part, remove and wash it if possible. Make sure all surfaces are clean and dry. (You'll need to clean between every polishing level, so an abundant supply of clean terry or microfiber cloths is necessary.)

First Level Polishing

Begin with the Metal Restorer Polish, applied with a hand drill and wool pad. Hand polish the crevices and slots, or use one of our mini polishing accessories for a drill.

When you use the buffing wheel against the direction of it's own rotation, you will see a compound trail. This is a cutting stroke. A polishing stroke goes with the rotation of the pad and leaves polish only on the leading edge. Begin with a cutting stroke and finish with a polishing stroke to remove 90% of the oxidation.

Liquid polishes, like our English Custom Blends, tend to perform better than pastes because they allow you to use the oxidation you're removing as an abrasive. If you don't roll or turn your applicator as the residue appears, you can make the residue work for you. The oxidation will be no coarser than the abrasive in the polish, and since aluminum oxide is second only to a diamond abrasive, it makes an ideal cutting compound.

Second Level Polishing

Clean the surface after using the Metal Restorer Polish and replace your cloths and pads. Apply the All Purpose Polish by hand with a terry pad, or with a hand drill and a felt polishing accessory.

It is best to work on a small area at a time. This slows the work down and insures one area is completed before you begin the next. Clean the surface again and replace your pads and towels.

Third Level Polishing

We know the surface looks beautiful but we thought you wanted it bright! Don't you want to get the attention of a blind man on a stampeding horse after midnight, while he's riding side saddle and looking backwards?

The Showman's Blend Polish will bring the finish to an awesome shine. Apply by hand with a terry pad, or a drill and a terry bonnet or felt accessory. Clean the surface again and buff well with a soft cloth or diaper.

Final Polishing

Go Get your shades! Polish one last time with the Ultra-Fine, Custom Blend. There is no finishing polish any finer. The formula was specifically designed for competition quality finishes. The more it's buffed, the higher the shine. We recommend a machine on this step. Buff with a terry pad or any soft bonnet until you have a perfect mirror finish. Don't stop buffing until you can rub a diaper across the surface and it remains clean.

Finally, give the surface a light misting of distilled water. Dry it with a clean diaper and buff again. You can never over-buff with the Custom Blend. The metal only becomes brighter!

Congratulations! You now have a show winning shine.

Final Tips

  • Perfect preparation prevents poor polishing!
  • Only work on small areas at a time.
  • Meticulously clean the surface between polishing levels.
  • Use wool for the first level compounding, terry cloth for the middle levels and a diaper for the final polish.
  • Remove labels from all cloths to avoid scratching.
  • Apply and remove polish in straight lines or follow the grain on scored aluminum.
  • Clean your hands between each polishing level.
  • Use barrier creams or latex gloves to protect your skin and goggles if you are machine buffing.
  • Each polishing level is just a preparation stage. The last wipe, is the finish!