It is easy to do and allows you to create a variety of nice finishes with little extra effort.
Step 1: Items Needed
Every aluminum box should be sanded before painting to remove the oxidized aluminum from the surface so that the paint can adhere better to the base metal.
For this type of brushed or buffed finish, I am using an abrasive wheel that mounts in a hand drill.
The red and gray wheels are similar but the latter is a finer mesh that produces a smoother finish. The material seems to be some sort of tough nylon woven fiber much like the 3M abrasive pads that are commonly available.
I bought these buffing wheels in a kit at Harbor Freight.
Step 2: Buffing the Surface
Go over the entire surface of the box. Typically I start at one end and work my way to the bottom of the box face. Move the angled drill side-to-side and you will see a buffed and highlighted pattern emerge in the aluminum.
It is readily produced and if you make a mistake, all you have to do is buff over it to remove the error.
The sides of the box can be flat sanded or buffed with the abrasive disk to add some dimension.
Step 3: The Pattern Appears
It is important to buff the entire surface of the box to remove the oxidation.
Usually, I do the edges before starting on the face or sides of the box.
Step 4: Wire Brushing
In this example, the top half of the box has been scarred with the brass brush and the bottom with the abrasive pad.
Step 5: Drilling Holes
Here you see a template printed on clear mylar with the position of the various elements that are to be added during final construction.
Step 6: Closeup
Step 7: Painting
Krylon X-Metals is a type of paint that remains transparent after drying and allows the look of the buffed surface to show through. It is available is several different colors and I bought that can at Hobby Lobby ($5.97).
After the clear yellow layer has dried sufficiently, I spray the box with a red transparent paint. In this case it is Duplicolor Metalcast red which came from an auto parts store, as shown in the second photo.
A second layer of red was applied to darken the finish and remove some of the orange cast. A rich mahogany-like surface will be revealed.
Step 8: Final Boxes
The box on the left has a birdseye pattern made by moving the buffing pad in small circles as it is worked across the surface. In this case, I flat-sanded the surface of the box before coming back to add the pattern.
The box on the right was buffed in two passes, each only going to the centerline of the box. This produces a bookmatched imitation.
The surfaces are hard to photograph and capture the 3D effect produced.
Try some different buffing patterns and paints for an unusual custom finish!
More free DIY info is available on my web site: http://www.muzique.com/