Picture of How to Polish Titanium.
Titanium is the literally the hardest metal I've worked with. It's still metal though and metal can be polished. It doesn't have to take long either. This piece is a Fish Bone Knotless Gear Tie. It's grade 2 titanium and measures about 2" X 1/2". I spent about 45 seconds per step with exception of the buffing wheels. Those were about 3 minutes each.   
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Step 1: Start with 220 Grit Sand Paper

Picture of Start with 220 Grit Sand Paper
Take a sheet of 220 sand paper and lay it, rough side up, on a flat surface. I'm using a glass block. Apply some metal polish to the sand paper. Meguiars makes different grades which makes things go quicker. For this step I'm using heavy-cut metal polish. Leave some extra polish on the paper so you can "scoop" more up as you go along. Rub the piece in a circular motion. Eventually you'll feel a difference in how the metal feels against the paper. This is because the metal surface is becoming a uniform texture against this grit. Pay attention to where you're putting pressure. The head and tail went faster because of how I was holding it. In either case I only spent about 45 seconds on this grit (and every other grit). 

Step 2: Move on to 800 Grit.

Picture of Move on to 800 Grit.
Next is 800 grit with medium-cut metal polish. Same rules apply from the last step. If you have stubborn spots you can fold the paper over a file to focus on those areas. See the pictures. Inspect the metal surface and make sure the entire area is the same texture. You want all scratches from the 220 gone. You may have to wash it off to get a good view. 

Step 3: Move on to 2000 grit.

Picture of Move on to 2000 grit.
Next is 2000 grit with metal finishing polish. Same rules apply from the other steps. For stubborn spots fold the paper over a file. Inspect the surface and make sure the entire area is the same texture. Make sure all scratches from the the 800 are gone. You may have to wash it off to be sure.

Step 4: Move on to a buffing wheel.

Picture of Move on to a buffing wheel.
Load a buffing wheel with polishing compound and buff the piece against it. Keep in mind titanium gets hot very fast. You may want to keep a bowl of ice cubes near by. 
AdamL23 months ago

Any advice on what kind of wheel or abrasives to use for hot-forged titanium? What about Ti6AL-4V?

That is the Titanium.

snoopindaweb9 months ago

Hello Mr. Balling, long time no see. Changing computers can change a lot of other things I'm thinking. Thanks again.

tjk19399 months ago

That glass block looks anything but flat, but I get the point.

AndreErasmus9 months ago

It may be a bit easier if you go from 220 to 400, 800, 1200 and finally 2000 grit

MaClay9 months ago

First, I wasn't aware of Walmart as a source for these polishes. Thanks.

Second, it looks like you're using a lathe as your buffing station. Not a good idea to introduce grit (polishing compound) into the workings and surfaces of such equipment. It will over time destroy the close tolerances that were built into the machine.

Lastly, good job of polishing a difficult metal.

bllwdcrvr9 months ago

Great ible, and an additional note, as a long time woodcarver some of us wood chippers load up good ol' toothpaste on a wooden strop to strop our blades to keep the oxidation down and it helps glide the blade thru the basswood with much more ease , generally about every 15minutes of steady carving

WouterZ9 months ago

Tip: if you polish on a flat surface don't use circular motions. Instead make figure of 8 motions. That way all bits get even pressure and polish. Nice instructable!

Bill WW9 months ago

Looks great, good job!

A question: Is it typical that you use metal polish on top of the sandpaper? The few times I have polished metal I have progressed up to 2000 grit sandpaper, then went to polish. Also, where do you get the polish?


Mrballeng (author)  Bill WW9 months ago
Using metal polish on sandpaper is not typical. It does work well for me though. You can find both the sandpaper and polish at Walmart.
Bill WW Mrballeng9 months ago
Thanks; sometimes, like now, I'm surprised at what is available at Walmart. I'll pick up some of the polish there.

That is amazing! I feel like I can see right through it!