The #1 consideration is the type of metal. Is it aluminum, stainless steel, brass, silver or gold? Then follow these suggestions to save you a lot of time, effort and mistakes.
Always work in an orderly area with your tools and chemicals nearby, but out of your way.
Keep this area clean and free of used buffing pads and soiled cloths. A build-up of solvents, metal shavings and oil can be hazardous.
Do not smoke, use open flame burners or any other source of ignition in a fume or dust laden atmosphere. Work in well ventilated areas.
Do not use polishes that contain anhydrous solvents, ammonia or acids on aluminum, brass, copper or bronze. These chemicals attack zinc and alloys, which are normally present in these metals.
Clean the surface before you begin polishing. Even dust can cause scratching when rubbed across a surface.
Work a small areas at a time on large jobs. It's faster and more consistent.
Apply light pressure and work slowly when applying polishing compounds. Let your machine and product do the work. Don't rush your polishing. It will show.
Polish in the direction of the grain if the metal is rolled.
Wipe down surface with alcohol between buffing steps to remove cleaning residue. Buffing pad lines or polish residue in seams can be removed with flour. Wiping cloths should have no labels or sewn edges with plastic thread.
Lightly mist the surface with distilled water before the final buffing step. This seals both metal and wax, and helps reduce future water staining from rain and condensation.