Metal Polish Shop: How to Use Polishing Compound

Metal Polish Shop Says: polishing compound is typically sold in bar form and ranges from fine to coarse, much like sandpaper. Polishing compound is used to smooth and shine surfaces such as metal, plastic and wood. This compound also minimizes, or removes the appearance of scratches on surfaces by effectively “buffing” them out. Use polishing compounds with a buffing wheel for the best results. The best way to polish a surface is to first determine what type of polishing compound to use.

Select the appropriate polishing compounds for the surface. Some surfaces, such as aluminum, require only one polishing compound for a satisfactory finish. However, surfaces like brass, copper and stainless steel require several polishing compounds to achieve a mirror finish.

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Different colors of the compound mean different grits.



Metal Polish Shop always wants you to wear a safety shield, skin protection and a respirator to protect yourself from the polishing dust and fibers from the pad that will be created.

Begin with the coarsest polishing compound that is needed. As you polish, move from the coarsest to the finest polishing compound until the desired shine is achieved. Remember that you can always move up in aggressiveness if you are not getting the results you want.

Spin the buffing wheel on a bench grinder, converted hand grinder, a dedicated multi speed polisher or  electric drill. Gently push the polishing compound against the buffing wheel while it is spinning. Hold the compound against the buffing wheel until the wheel has a light layer of compound on it. Only a small amount of compound is needed. A little goes a long ways.

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Different pads are used for different grits of compound.



Hold the item to be polished against the buffing wheel while it is spinning to apply the first polishing compound. If you are using the converted grinder or electric drill hold the buffing wheel against the object. Once the entire piece has been buffed, select the next compound, and buff the surface again. Keep doing this, moving up from the coarsest to the finest compound.

Once you have the desired finish on your object put some corn starch on a soft cotton cloth and rub it into the object. This will remove any black tags that may have been left behind by the polishing process. Some say this step is not necessary but Metal Polish Shop believes it is. If it makes the final out come just a little bit better why would you not spend the extra 5 minutes?

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Metal Polish Shop says: “Keep the Shiny Side Up”




  1. When polishing, do you need to be concerned with the direction the buffinguwheel is turning? For example when using for example, a 7″ grinder with a white buffing wheel and its turning clockwise so its turning into the piece to be polished is this correct, or counter clockwise so its pulling the “dirt” (for lack of a better word) out away from the tank. Hope this makes sense.

    • Go lightly against the wheel direction to “cut” to remove scratches. Use Sand paper first, If you can catch your fingernail in the scratches
      Go lightly with the wheel to buff and shine

      • Hi Arthr, I will assume you are talking about aluminum here. When you are polishing anything try to go with the “grain” of the metal, not against it. If you have to sand use the appropriate compound that has enough cut to remove the sanding marks. If you go against the grain you are essentially adding more scratches in the opposite direction of the grain that will reflect light in the opposite direction. This will take extra time to polish out to get the great result we all want. If you go with the grain, use the correct speed for the size of wheel you are spinning, along with the correct compound, the results will be stunning. Have fun with your latest project :)

  2. Aric- when you hold the polisher have it so the buff is turning away from you and is vertical. This will allow most of the junk coming off the buffing pad to get thrown away from you and not in your face. Either way you will get dirty!

    Work from the bottom left of the tank towards the bottom right. Then move up an inch or so and buff the other way. So you are going from left to right from the bottom to the top of the tank. When you come to an edge work “down” toward the edge not “up” towards the edge. If you work up your buff will catch and throw the grinder. The hotter the day the hotter the tank will be and the better result you will get.

    Hold the grinder 90 degrees to the tank so your pad is spinning in the same direction as the grain of the metal. The buff will be spinning vertically not horizontally to the tank. When doing the first initial cut (use 1400 RPM on your grinder) use a fairly stiff pad and brown or green rouge, wipe with corn starch on a old cotton rag after to remove the black tag(to reduce the tags sand down the rock chips and abrasions to 1000 grit before buffing). Then use your white soft buff and white or blue rouge (on 3400 RPM) to get your colouring of the piece. Then again use the corn starch to remove the black tags. The black tags are caused by the used rouge from the buff catching a sharp edge on a rock chip. The chips are trying to clean the pad. Keep your pads from gumming up by cleaning them often. You can clean them by using a pad cleaning brush or something rough on the pad face. A trick to do for lubrication of the rouge (if you are not using a liquid polish) is to mist your tank with mineral spirits just before you polish that area.

    After you are finished polishing use an acrylic or polymer sealer or carnuba wax to protect and prolong your efforts. The sealer will last longer than the wax. I use Klasse all in one sealer/ cleaner, it is an acrylic based product but Meguiars has some good polymer sealer’s as well.

  3. Finally someone that is not full of *%#!

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