Introduction: How to Polish, in Real Time.

This video is in response to questions I've gotten on polishing. As always, be careful and work within your experience. When I say "32 RPM's" I really mean "3200" RPM's". WIth or with out the drill press, this process is how I polish everything I make. Hope this helps.


Joshuafusco02 (author)2015-07-02


Corinbw (author)2015-02-21

nail polish is not completely smooth, however there is a nail polish gel that you put on and then put under a special light to cure. This nail polish is supposed to melt slightly and smooth out completely. This is what I want to use on copper pendants and rings. Hopefully it works

The Dark Ninja (author)2012-02-09

What method would you recommend to keep copper from oxidizing? Is there any coating that I can put on pendants and what not to keep them from getting any 'green' or yuck on people?

Mrballeng (author)The Dark Ninja2012-02-10

You can spray it with clear coat. I've also heard of a liquid called gold dip. It's supposed to coat metal with a thin coat of gold. Nail polish could be used too.

The Dark Ninja (author)Mrballeng2012-02-10

Gold Dip, I'll have to look into that. I've seen those gold plating machines for like $200... way too much for a beginner!

I'll have to try out the clear coat/nail polish. Only trouble will be that copper takes time to oxidize so to know if it worked will take a while. :)

Your instructables are amazing too btw. I'm going to have to try out some of this stuff!

black hole (author)2011-11-03

Could you post something on soldering the nail to the coin? I've tried, but it always falls apart if I even touch it, let alone spin it around in a drill.

Mrballeng (author)black hole2011-11-05

Yes. I'm working on a "how to solder amature jewelry" instructable.

black hole (author)Mrballeng2011-11-06

Okay, thanks.

ehudwill (author)2011-09-06

Thanks for posting this. Really helps to see your set up.

rimar2000 (author)2011-07-07

WOW! That is impressive!

Maybe you can advice me. I bought a sheet of aluminum 0.3 mm thick, in order to mirror polish and use it for a solar cooker. I tried to do it with a polishing cap and liquid metal polish/cleaner, but after an hour of work over an area of less than one square foot, the only thing I did was barely see a shadow reflection of my face. By this instructable I realize should have used fine sandpaper, I will try to follow your instructions.

But once polished, aluminum quickly oxidizes. There are somehow to avoid it? Any super transparent lacquer?

ac-dc (author)rimar20002011-07-10

It's not very suitable for a solar cooker even if you did manage to get the top layer of oxidation off (except for one time use). Aluminum easily oxidizes and a protective clear coat will rapidly wear away in an application where it's not just purposefully subjected to as much sun as possible but doing so to create heat.

If you want to try it anyway, your best long term result would be as mentioned, use sandpaper to cut through the outer surface layer, polish it as much as possible, then anodize it. Anodizing it will reduce shininess initially but in the longer term, keep it from getting even worse.

However, if you shine a piece of aluminum to a near mirror finish, it doesn't oxidize to a dull finish all that fast, relatively speaking. A very thin oxide layer over the surface drastically decreases further oxidation and it still looks like a near mirror finish for a fair amount of time. You could simply clean it with very fine steel wool after each use and retain the beat finish possible with the least amount of work over the oven's lifespan.

Fine steel wool alone will restore a previously polished aluminum surface to very near mirror state, especially when used wet (with detergent solution) as people did in the past decades to clean cookware.

rimar2000 (author)ac-dc2011-07-11

Thanks for the suggestion, ac-dc. Maybe clear car lacquer is weather proof.

ac-dc (author)rimar20002011-07-21

The problem with clear car lacquer is twofold. One, being a solar oven it is getting as hot as possible, which not only breaks down the lacquer faster, but it causes metal expansion to a larger extent so the lacquer will crack.

Two, it is meant to be applied over a painted surface, at normal viscosity levels you are likely to find that it beads up on a polished surface when you try to spray it on, or if you brush it on then it would be too thick to be ideal. You could thin it with solvent, that might work if applied in very light coats but I still feel the best option is to just scrub clean it with very fine steel wool and detergent solution every now and then.

rimar2000 (author)ac-dc2011-07-22

Thanks for the info, it sounds reasonable. A point: the mirror surface will be far from the focus (~80cm), the only heat source will be the direct solar light. In this case, its influence will be less important due precisely to the good reflecting factor. That of the beading is a real problem, maybe I will ask help from a car painter to do the work. I am not glad to spend money...

brettj1 (author)rimar20002011-07-11

What we used to do to keep the mirror finish on the alloy covers of our motor bike motor was to wipe/rub regularly with auto wax polish on a rag if we wiped it over regularly / daily it stood up to the heat & weather & only took a few minutes each time. But in your solar cooker it isn't subjected to the weather & road grime like the bike so it should last quite some time between rub overs / polishes

rimar2000 (author)brettj12011-07-12

Thanks for your concern! But my design for solar oven/cooker has 85 mirrors. It is impractical to rub each of them every some days. Should have a transparent and outdoors proof coating. Maybe NASA can help me!

bigbird0325 (author)rimar20002011-07-16

Have you tried using polished thin guage stainless steel? They can be polished to a near-mirror finish and are relatively lightweight...

rimar2000 (author)bigbird03252011-07-17

No, it is too expensive. I tried to design a cheap solar cooker to be used by the poor people (aborigins and so, that live far of the cities).

Thanks anyway.

sniffydogs (author)rimar20002011-07-10

How about Mylar?

rimar2000 (author)sniffydogs2011-07-11

Surely you mean "aluminized mylar". It is good, but tends to form wrinkles, like all thin films. Each wrinkle is like a black spot in the reflecting surface. I tried it and abandoned it.

My last testings were using glass mirrors. They are better, but too heavy.

Mrballeng (author)rimar20002011-07-08

Often times when you buy sheet metal it comes with a factory coating on the surface. I would start with 400 grit sand paper on a rubber sanding block and then move up to 1000, 2000, and then polishing compound. I would also use a spray bottle filled with water and spray the work surface often to keep the paper from clogging with aluminum. Once your done with that use automotive clear coat and wet sand it with 2000 grit. Finally hand buff it with polishing compound.

Scott_Tx (author)Mrballeng2011-07-08

aluminum will naturally oxidize to a hard gray layer on the surface. after you polish it you'll need something to protect it.

rimar2000 (author)Scott_Tx2011-07-09

Yes, it is.

rimar2000 (author)Mrballeng2011-07-09

Thanks, Mrballeng. I had thought of paint for cars, but as it is not cheap I did not dare to test. You have given me a good help. Your instructions are very complete!

RnReg (author)2011-07-18

I'd like to put in my two bobs worth, if I may, to PRO rimar2000 in his attempt to make a high polished mirror for his solar cooker. If you are able to get your hands on some surgical stainless steel sheets from your local plumber & have these cut by an industrial guillotine, you will have perfect mirrors. This stainless steel comes with a protective plastic sheet attached to the metal that is peeled off once the metal is in its final location. This material has an extremely high gloss mirror finish & with an occasional wipe with a soft rag, to clean off dust & or moisture, will give a lifetime of service. It will not rust if left in out in the weather. If you cannot get new surgical stainless sheeting, then you can go to your local builder/wrecker & purchase an old male urinal that’s been taken from a public toilet that has been either demolished or renovated. If this urinal is then cut up & polished back to its original high gloss condition, you will end up again with very high quality mirrors. It goes without saying, if you use second hand urinals, follow all necessary health precautions.

d.i.y master (author)2011-07-17

very cool but i have a coin i want to polish but not remove the pattern do you have any tips or ideas as to how i might do this.

Mrballeng (author)d.i.y master2011-07-17

Buy a buffing attachment in the dremel isle. You can find them at The Home Depot, Lowes, WalMart, ect.  From there you can put it in a dremel, or drill, or drill press. Use Polishing compund from the auto store to shine it up. You won't need much time on the wheel at all to bring it to a bright shine. 

d.i.y master (author)Mrballeng2011-07-17

thank you very much

sarawelder (author)2011-07-10

do you always work with the drill press on it's side or is that just to avoid all the water on the table?
Great instructional video.. off to the auto store!

Mrballeng (author)sarawelder2011-07-10

Most of the time I leave it on it's side, that unless I'm actually drilling something. Leaving it on it's side allows me to eaisier see the surface I'm working with.

sarawelder (author)Mrballeng2011-07-12

thanks! I'm going to try that!

DiligentTom (author)2011-07-12

Excellent video. Goes to show that you don't need a high-dollar buffing motor to get great results! Thanks!

Venemot (author)2011-07-11

What about 3d objects?And wont, attaching the nail like damage the object?And what about object that isnt round,and is irregular,like a highly designed neck piece or decoration piece???

rlacoma (author)Venemot2011-07-12

You can use a buffing wheel attachment to the drill/grinding wheel/dremel with cutting and polishing compounds. These can be had at places like Lowes/Home Depot, ect.

Be sure to read the label of the compounds since some are made for different materials and have different cutting/polishing strengths.

Mrballeng (author)Venemot2011-07-11

For 3d objects I place the sand paper over things like popsicle sticks of dulled down razor blades. As long as you can get the sand paper to rub on the area you want to polish it will happen.

Venemot (author)Mrballeng2011-07-12

yeah i can do that. But i wanted to find a much quicker way like the one you mentioned in the i'ble...!!!

rbormann (author)2011-07-10

Wouldn't be advisable to use protective gloves when doing such jobs?

trustr (author)rbormann2011-07-10

turning machines + gloves = never a good idea

it's better to cut your finger than losing the complete finger because the (leather) glove tangles up and turns a couple of times around the workpiece (+ finger) :-/

Mrballeng (author)trustr2011-07-10

just like he said.

Mrballeng (author)rbormann2011-07-10

As long as the gloves are a snug fit you could use them. I sometimes use bicycle gloves. Be very careful though. Glove finger tips can quickly be sucked into the drill press.

eschmeck (author)2011-07-10

I tend to use all the way up to a 12000 grit on jewelry items. In your experience, is there really a need to go beyond the 2k? Oh, I usually sand by hand as hubby frowns on me using his tools after the whole table saw incident. :P

Mrballeng (author)eschmeck2011-07-10

2000 is the highest I go. As long as you include polishing compound you'll get a mirror finish. Watch out for those table saws, I know from experience=).

joshsstuff (author)2011-07-10

Do you have any info about how you attached the nickle onto the nail perfectly centered?

Mrballeng (author)joshsstuff2011-07-10

When I place the coin on my soldering surface it sits level. It looks like a little bowl. As long as the nail is centered in the bowl it will balance strait up. If it's not centered the nail and bowl will lean to one side or even tip over. Once the nail looks vertical and the bowl it level, I drop in a little piece of solder and apply the flame.

jrh065 (author)2011-07-10

You deserve an award for shiniest roofing tack ever created! Thanks for sharing your skills I've always hated polishing, but this should make it a more bearable.

Mrballeng (author)jrh0652011-07-10

Thanks jrh065.

gmsmg (author)2011-07-10

Great job, How did you dome the coin. Keep up the great help you give every one.

Mrballeng (author)gmsmg2011-07-10

I placed the coin on a scrap piece of 3/4" pine. I then hit the rounded head of a carriage bolt against it with a hammer. Check out "vintage locket" for pictures of how it's done. Thanks

tommegow (author)2011-07-10

Your DP looks like my Harbor Freight DP I would interested
in putting. keyless chuck on mine too! Could you walk us through that
also ?

Mrballeng (author)tommegow2011-07-10

It is a harbot freight drill press. I think I paid $50 on sale for it 5 years ago. It came with the keyless chuck but I you can buy one throught their website. To change it out I think it has a reverse thread allen bolt in the chuck. You should be able to see it if you look into where you would put the drill bit.

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Bio: Awesome Gear I've designed myself.
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