How can I sand stainless steel down to a flawless mirror finish? What is the best way? What tools should I use? Answered
I have a stainless steel filing cabinet painted khaki. I want to remove the paint and give the underlying steel a mirror finish. Removing the paint is not a problem. The problem is I don't know how to give it a mirror finish. The finish I want is so that I would be able to see my reflection just as if I were looking in a normal mirror.
Here's an example of what I'm trying to achieve, starting from an old, painted filing cabinet. If I could make it look that good or better, I'd be satisfied.
I have tried several methods which I found on the internet but none of them seem to be working. I have tried sanding by hand starting at 60 grit and going up to 220 with regular sandpaper. I have also tried using emory sandpaper which says it is for metal. I used coarse up to fine. Neither of these are resulting in a mirror finish. With the regular sandpaper, after using the 220, I can sort of see my face if I get really close and look at it from exactly the right angle, but can't make out any features.
I also tried using various dremel tools attached to my electric drill. These give a much different finish than what I am trying to achieve. It ends up looking like brushed aluminum. You can't see a reflection in this because it's too diffused.
Then I tried using a sandpaper wheel attached to my angle grinder. The sandpaper wheel was made up of many sheets of sandpaper, shaped into a wheel. It sort of worked, but was very uneven. I could see my reflection in little parts but most of the rest of it was scratched up.
Then I tried using a belt sander, using paper from 50 up to 120. The result was similar to a stainless steel refrigerator, but messier. There were a lot of lines or grooves, and they were not straight.
So the best I have achieved so far is a finish close to that of a new stainless steel refrigerator or stove, where you can't see your reflection, but the sanding grooves are clean and straight. I got this through a combination of the angle grinder, the belt sander, and hand sanding from 60 to 220. I also tried a small section purely by hand, using regular sandpaper from 60 to 150 and got slightly better results - meaning there are fewer lines. But the reflection is still barely visible; it's still way too cloudy. These results could look nice but they're not what I want. I'm really trying to get the perfect mirror finish.
I've tried to upload pictures of what I've got so far. Don't know if they will make it into this question or not.