How can I polish and rust-protect a steel file cabinet? Answered
I asked a question on how to sand a steel file cabinet down to a mirror finish a couple of weeks ago and got a lot of great answers. I tried some of the suggestions. What worked best was an orbit sander, starting at 60 and going up to 400. At 400, I could see a pretty good reflection of myself with no scratches.
I could have made it perfect if I had kept doing that all over the whole file cabinet.
Unfortunately, it would have taken forever to get all the scratches out because while I was learning how to sand it and trying out different tools, different sanding techniques, I made too many scratches. For example I used a belt sander on one entire side, thinking that would be faster. It was faster, but it left deep cuts all over.
I had started by sanding off some of the paint with those metal brushes that you attach to a drill. Then when I tried to sand that section with the orbit sander, I couldn't get all the scratches out. Even using really coarse hand sandpaper didn't get the scratches out.
So instead of giving it a mirror finish, I decided to go over the whole thing with the metal brushes attached to a drill. See what it turned out like below. I am going to leave it like that.
So now I need to know how to finish it. I had been following these instructions but they are not working.
The rubbing compound does not disappear when you rub it. It is just smearing brown stuff all over the file cabinet. I do not know what the purpose of this is. It's not appearing to polish anything. It just makes a mess. So after rubbing it with cloths didn't get rid of it, I tried to wash it off. But that was an even worse mistake because now there are small rust spots all over even though I dried it with a dry cloth after washing the file cabinet. Also, washing it made it look dirtier. There are water streaks all over it now.
I went to Home Depot but I don't know what to buy. I don't want to ask any of the floor staff because they could just say anything and it might make things worse.
A guy at Parts Source told me I should use Metal Polish. He actually told me to go to a jeweller and get jewel polish, but then he suggested this Blue Magic Metal Polish Cream. I don't know if he's right or wrong.
So my questions are: How can I remove the brown rubbing compound? Washing didn't get all of it. Am I supposed to buff it off? Apparently you can't use water at this stage.
How am I supposed to clean off the mess I made when I was only trying to polish it and make it perfectly clean and shiny before coating it?
Assuming I can get it cleaned off and make all the rust spots disappear, what am I supposed to coat it with? How many coats?
Is there something you're supposed to do after you coat it? Such as do you polish it then? With what?