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How to Shine Aluminum



CAUTION: Aluminum dust is very dangerous. A mask and eye protection are musts.

A viewer, Dave, had asked how to shine aluminum since it's a lot different than steel.

Kevin likes to start out with about a 60-grit flap disk on his 4-1/2" angle grinder. He uses it just to clean up the welds - you don't want to touch the base metal. Then he switches to 80 grit to blend in the weld.

After that, you come back and get rid of your grrr marks. That's what you make with the flap disks: grrrs. They're called that because when you look at them, you say, "Grrr!" because you have to grind all of them out again.

Then Kevin goes to a 120-grit sanding pad on some of his woodworking equipment, an electric dual action orbital grinder. Next he uses a 220 grit.

After the sandpaper, he uses Scotch-Brite pads to remove any marks caused by the sanding pads. Kevin shows coarse grit and finer grit Scotch-Brite pads, and there are 4 or 5 grits to allow you to get finer and finer. He attaches the Scotch-Brite pads to an air tool to polish the metal.

To see how to shine the aluminum, Kevin has a piece of 16 gauge 5051 aluminum with some oxidation and grrr marks. He uses the red Scotch-Brite first, but it won't take out the oxidation, so he goes one level back to the electric dual action grinder with 220-grit sandpaper on it - that'll take care of that oxidation!

Kevin shows how the grinder has a dust collector bag on it. Just line up the holes in the sandpaper with the holes in the grinding pad, and it sucks the dust into the bag. The 220 grit takes care of the oxidation, so he goes back to the red, then the finer Scotch-Brite pad.

At this point, you can almost see yourself in the aluminum. Kevin shows the side he has polished in contrast to the other, untouched side.

Kevin says that, if you want to go really crazy, CCW offers a surface preparation pad. He puts one on his angle grinder and shines half of the piece of aluminum to a high reflection using the red surface preparation pad.

You can even go further to polishing compounds, buffing wheels, some rouge, and just go crazy from there.

His best advice: don't put the grrr marks in there in the first place, a real challenge with aluminum and stainless steel.

Kevin is ready to go back to work, but you might want to stick around for another moment to see him fly that saucer! ....

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