Introduction: Belt Sander Aluminium Polishing

There are several Instructables showing how to make a stand for a woodworking hand held belt sanders but I haven't seen any using them on metal.

I like to make motorcycle parts 'shiny', it looks better and also makes thing's easier to keep clean

I'll show you how to polish small parts to mirror finish using far less work than files, emery cloth, etc. I had been doing these parts by hand but it took quite a long time to get good results, this method gets a better finish in about 20 minutes

Things you need :-

1. hand held belt sander - mine is a real cheap one from Harbor Freight Tools, made in China and available pretty much everywhere although the name may be changed in different countries - I know it is in Canada and Australia

2. Vice or some method to mount sander 'upside down', could always search for Instructable on mount

3. Dust mask - very very important, aluminium dust is believed to cause long term health issues, Alzheimer disease, etc

4. Heavy gloves, two reasons, you are quite likely to accidentally touch belt and the parts will get quite warm through friction

5. Face shield or goggles, this is pretty dirty, I used a micro fiber cloth to clean it up

Final pic is sander 'mounted' in vice using the front handle

I messed up a bit and put this into introduction instead of first step, I'll get better at it eventually

Step 1: The Component to 'shine Up'

Carburettor mounting bracket for 1974 Honda CB360, mould line and sharp edges

start with an 80 grit sanding belt. when the seam has been ground off, switch to 120 grit belt to remove scratches from 80 grit

Step 2: Repeat Step 1 Using 320 and 400 Grit Belts

Continue to use finer grit belts, I normally go to 600 but couldn't find it so stopped at 400 grit, then used 'secret' method to reduce cutting action

Red rouge (or brown 'compo') polishing compound is easily available at most home centers and online auctions

Used engine oil is 'free' if you do your own oil change and saves a trip to recycling center, a gallon will probably last for years

Apply a layer of brown compo to 400 grit sanding belt, just run sander and press compound down onto belt. When you have an even layer, dip brush in engine oil and paint on a coating of oil (while sander is still running)

Push part your polishing into the mix and smooth everything off, use a rag to check scratches are coming out

If belt starts to look 'dry' apply some more oil (but not so much it throws off everywhere)

Finish with a soft cloth and ordinary aluminium polish, I use old 'T' shirts

What was taking about one and a half hours is now finished in about 20 minutes