Polish aluminum to mirror / chrome like finish

Polishing aluminum is not an easy task. It is very time consuming and entire process can take days depending on your project size. Many car and motorcycle parts are made out of aluminum. Mirror like finish can be achieved by polishing aluminum.

Tools needed for this project will require many different grades of sand paper. Sand paper types are classified in different grades. You will need grades from 200 all the way to 2000. Also, depending on what shape your aluminum part is in , metal file may be needed. Metal polish cream will also be required for final step (and a soft cloth to apply the cream). All these tools can be purchased at your local hardware store and are not relatively expensive. Sand paper will cost you around $2 for each grade. Metal file around $10 and metal polish cream around $7.

We'll start off by removing your aluminum part that requires polishing. This part I will leave up to you.

Aluminum is a very soft metal. You will not need a lot of strength to polish your part.

We will begin by examining your part. If there are any deep dangs, scratches etc, those might require use of metal file and making your surface as flat as possible.

Next step we will move to using sand paper grade 200. At this stage sanding should be done in various directions, switching from going left to right, up and down to circular motion. Do not apply a lot of pressure to sand paper as this may create deep grooves in aluminum. You may also notice that at this point it may look like you're actually scratching your surface and not doing it any good. Don't panic as it will get better once you start using finer grades of sand paper.

Next step we'll switch sand paper to 400 grade. Continue sanding as described in above step. Also you should be decreasing in amount of pressure as your surface becomes to looks smoother. Continue sanding until you notice grooves from previous sanding have disappeared and gotten finer.

Repeat above steps using sand paper grades 600 and 800, also once you start using sand paper grade 600 you should concentrate on directions in which you're sanding and stick to one direction.

Once you get to grade 1000 we can start doing what's called wet sanding. You should prepare yourself a bucket or a container with water as occasionally we will be dipping our aluminum part in water. Sand paper can also be dipped in water.

Sand your part using grade 1000. At this stage you should be applying very little pressure to sand paper. Your motions should be fast and gentle. You will also notice black residue on your aluminum. This should be rinsed in water often.

Repeat above step using sand paper grades 1200, 1400, 1600 and finally grade 2000.

Once you're finished with grade 2000 your aluminum part has been polished to mirror like finish. Although the result may not quite look like mirror do not skip next and last important part.

We will now apply our metal polish cream. You want to rub on a small amount of polish with soft cloth until you see that your cream has changed to a black film. After this you need to buff the black film using either a clean soft cloth or buffer. In our case soft cloth did the trick.

Now you're done. Your part should be all shiny now. Enjoy the new look.

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Few pictures of our aluminum part before polishing.

And here it is after polish.



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