Instructables

How to polish out scratches on laser discs

Picture of how to polish out scratches on laser discs
In this instructable I'm going to cover a process I've used to buff out scratches from laser discs. Before I get into the process I need to tell you that I'm in no way an optics engineer and this process has not been lab tested. Any long term effects it may have on the discs are unknown. There's plenty of ideas on how to do this task. I'm the tech at the Miami Space Transit Planetarium and we still use laser discs on a daily basis. This is just one way to get the scratches out that worked for me.

I tested this process on the workbench using discs that were blatantly scratched up and beginning to act up when played. If you have a disc that's almost at the point of being unplayable, this process might save the disc and make it playable again but by all means record that video ASAP to another media. This process may work on cd's and dvd's but I haven't tried that yet.


 
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Step 1: What you'll need

Picture of what you'll need
First off you need to clean the disc of any grease or grime. Once it's clean and dry we are ready to start. You will need to obtain two products, a small jar of "Mother's Mag and Wheel polish" and a bottle of plastic scratch remover. I have a few friends in the public safety business and they swear by Mother's Mag and Wheel polish when it comes to removing haze and light scratches in plastic lenses. Yes, wheel polish cleans up scratched plastic! Who would have thought to try that one out?

The second product, plastic scratch remover, is available at some auto parts stores and at boat stores. It's used for polishing up plastic windshields and so forth. The particular brand I used was "Star Brite Plastic Scratch Remover". This stuff looks and smells like watered down car wax. It may just be that in a special bottle. I haven't tried car wax but I imagine clear coat safe car wax :might: work the same.

You will also need 3 small CLEAN terry cloth towels. One big enough to lay the disc on while you work on it, and two to work in the compounds. These towels must be clean, as in right out of the washer and haven't been used for anything else clean. Now we'll get to work!

WHATS A LASER DISC!!!??!!?!?! >.<

(sorry for all caps rant, but I have no clue what the heck that is)
ke4mcl (author)  videogamemaster3 years ago
its basically like a giant cd. it was how high resolution movies were sold to the public before the DVD existed.
Oh, ok. Were there many different movies made on laser disks or were they one of those short lived things with only few made?
ke4mcl (author)  videogamemaster3 years ago
there were plenty of movies made. trouble is they were quite expensive. 50-100 a disc. players and movies can still be easily found on ebay and in thrifts. the movies are often mistaken for LP records at thrift stores and placed on the record shelves. the pioneer players were very well made and most that you find used still work
master key5 years ago
cool!!
is that a 'laser disk' like... OLD school GI-NORMOUS disks... my school still uses them :|
ke4mcl (author)  TheWelfareWarrior5 years ago
yes, the size of an old LP record. been around since the late 70's. up until the dvd came out, it was the best way to buy movies as far as quality and long life where concerned. there is an HD version of the laserdisc in use in japan that blows away dvd.
... um... what about blu-ray?
ke4mcl (author)  TheWelfareWarrior5 years ago
dont own one yet. im waiting for them to get as cheap as regular dvd players. some of us dont care soo much about being able to count the hairs on an actors eyebrow in a movie! as far as will this process work on blu-ray? beats me. i dont have a disc to try it on.
yeah, i have no intention of buying a bluray player, i don't even pay attention to the picture half the time...
ironsmiter5 years ago
I must say, I feel some relief. I'm not the only one still using LaserDiscs! Just yesterday, I threw my copy of "Total Recall" into my laserdisc player. There is a certain satisfaction in these sizable discs that you just don't get with cd/dvds. I've seen stacks of cds, wihtout ases, scratched beyond recognition, much less playability, in peoples cars, rooms, etc. I have NEVER seen laserdiscs handled or stored in anything but a careful, almost religious manner :-) They have SUBSTANCE, and are not for casual interaction(like old records, which which they share a similar size/heft) Mother's Mag polisher.. that's one I've never heard of using before... must try it. Luckily, i have 2-3 discs from the thrift store that are "unplayable" due to scratches, so perfect subjects for testing. If it screws them up, no loss, if it works, yeah me! Question though The "plastic polisher/wax"... is it an actual abrasive polish? or a wax-n-buff product? I've had LIMITED success filling scratches with wax and buffing. only really works for VERY fine scratches.
ke4mcl (author)  ironsmiter5 years ago
i think part of the reason this process worked for me is the two steps. mothers has a more abrasive grit than the plastic scratch remover. both are very fine grit but it seems that one does the bulk of the job and leaves very fine scratches in its wake, the plastic scratch remover product takes care of the very fine scratches left by the mothers product.
codongolev5 years ago
dudewhoacool. do you think it would work on a screen? because my psp has two huge gouges in it from my earbuds.
Actually it may, I have used this on LCD Screens before with limited success. Wont work to well on deep stuff (read:gouges ) But it may make them less noticeable if nothing else.
well, I have almost gotten rid of scratches (ie, gotten to a light haze) using FINE, not normal, FINE sandpaper, then steel wool, then some commercial scratch remover. this might just finish the job.
ke4mcl (author)  codongolev5 years ago
might be a good way to finish the job. the wheel polish is a very fine abrasive mixed in with a wax, the plastic scratch remover is an even finer abrasive mixed in with what smells/looks like car wax.
you must define "FINE" a little more closely ;-) I have some 8000 grit abrasive paper laying around that I can cause a mirror shine with, on metal... sadly, plastic clogs it up way too fast, to try sanding scratches out of an lcd. Steel wool would be TOO rough, i think, for anything but working on the bezel.
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