Aluminum Buffing and Polishing Equipment

By Paul Miceli

Use of the correct equipment makes for easier work when buffing and polishing aluminum. Polishing is the first step of the process and rids the aluminum surface of grease and dirt. When aluminum is subsequently buffed, the full brilliance of the metal shines through. When the two steps are used together, the very best results can be achieved. But it is important to note that different areas of the aluminum surface will require the use of different equipment.

Greaseless Compound

One of the most important components for polishing aluminum is greaseless compound. Aluminum must be set up on a level surface and safely positioned using an expander wheel and abrasive bands. Several varieties of greaseless compound are available. The correct choice will depend on the job being undertaken and how much grease or dirt needs to be removed from the aluminum before buffing takes place. A handheld rotary tool fitted with an abrasive wheel, or a mandrel and wheel, if needed, is used to work greaseless compound into the metal.

Buffing Wheels

Special wheels are available for the buffing process, but they can also be used effectively for polishing aluminum. When polishing, use a loose spiral-sewn buffing wheel accessory on a handheld rotary tool. When these buffing wheels are used with greaseless compound, the effect is the same as using a grinding wheel. A full range of coarse and fine abrasive grits are available to help reduce scratch and etching marks in the aluminum surface while polishing. Coarse grades can also be used to remove clear coat from the aluminum.

Buffing Equipment

Inflatable wheels are ideal for buffing aluminum and can be attached to handheld rotary tools for ease of use. The best results are achieved when the correct choice of woolen buffing belt is used in conjunction with the wheel. There are several different accessories for drills designed to assist with buffing in tight or unusually shaped areas. Specialized buffing wheels are widely available for certain shapes and these help to produce the best results. Specialized wheels are actually cost-effective, and can be purchased at similar prices to standard equipment.

Buffing Compounds

Always use the right compound when buffing aluminum. Jeweler’s rouge will always work well on the polished surface to bring out a perfect shine. Avoid applying too much compound; a dry, even application is preferred. After buffing thoroughly and wiping the aluminum clean, finish polishing by hand using aluminum polish. As well as adding a full luster to the aluminum, it will also protect it. Use the polish sparingly and wipe the metal clean to finish.

© Demand Media 2011