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Old September 22, 2008, 07:57 PM   #1
surg_res
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Any tips on polishing stainless steel?

I'm looking for tips to polishing the gray out of a stainless steel receiver. I'm currently using metal polish paste with a rag and 000 steel wool to try and brighten the metal up a bit, though with only moderate success.

This method is quite time consuming and laborious and I was wondering if there is an easier alternative.

Thanks.
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Old September 22, 2008, 08:04 PM   #2
fisherman66
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Quote:
I was wondering if there is an easier alternative.
Turn on the hunting channel or whatever you enjoy.

The process takes time and is mindless.



I did use a dremel for the flutes in the cylinders, but everything else was done by hand.
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Old September 22, 2008, 08:43 PM   #3
Bill DeShivs
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A lot of variables come into play-
What kind of gun, how rough is the finish, what metal polish are you using?
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Old September 23, 2008, 08:52 AM   #4
Unclenick
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Dremel and felt bobs or a small buffing wheel on drill arbors and loaded with Dico Stainless Steel buffing compound. If you happen to have a full size buffer, obviously that would be fastest.
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Old September 23, 2008, 01:54 PM   #5
Bill DeShivs
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Please keep the Dremel away from the gun!
I have been polishing guns and knives for many years, and I can't get a decent finish with a Dremel-so I know a novice can't. The surface contact area is too small to get a consistent finish.
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Old September 23, 2008, 06:23 PM   #6
surg_res
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Bill, check out my post in C&R forum about the 1908 mauser. I posted it there with questions about the stainless barrel bands. The receiver metal is in great shape, very smooth with crisp and sharp markings, but turning a little gray with age. Thanks for the advice.

This rifle is the 6th or 7th DWM in my collection, and I've always been impressed with how well German steel ages when well cared for, as compared with all of the other junk guns made during that time in history.

The rifle is beautiful, but being the compulsive type, I like to see that mirror shine.
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Old September 29, 2008, 10:16 PM   #7
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I polish a lot of stainless, I have a surgical instrument repair business and you cannot really do a good job with a Dremel, I use a foredom flex shaft tool and I can only polish small items with it, for larger items I use a Baldor 8 inch buffer with either white or red rouge. You must have experience to use these or you can turn your item your polishing into a missile and hurt your self! Do not ask how I know!If you could find a leather wheel for a dremel it may work better than felt or cotton as both or these will leave buffing marks.
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Old October 2, 2008, 09:03 PM   #8
drail
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Yeah, forget the Dremel for polishing a frame or barrel. Either successively finer grades of sandpaper up to 1500 to 2000 grit or the buffer. And a buffer really does make an excellent missile launcher. Use eye protection and think about which way it's going to go if you slip. The buffer is the most dangeous thang in my shop.
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Old October 2, 2008, 09:12 PM   #9
Bill DeShivs
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Not only is it dangerous, a buffer can really mess a gun up unless you know what you are doing with it.
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Old October 3, 2008, 03:01 AM   #10
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My employer once sent me to understudy a master mold polisher.This gentleman was polishing dies for striking coins at a mint while I was with him.
I cannot approach teaching you in this forum.
I can tell you the higher the polish,the more imperfections will show.I can tell you that trueness of form is critical.By using "soft" processes,you will alter trueness of form.You will make high and low spots,ripples,etc.As light hits these,the highlights will emphasize this variation,and I would prefer an as cast matte finish.

I used stones called "puddle stones".They resembled a Japanese water stone in a way.The graded grit is sifted into water and allowed to settle,then baked.
Most commercial polishing stones (Gesswein,DME) are made by a press and vitrify process,and the issue is as the stone breaks down,a chunk of 3 or 5 grits will cut diggers in the finish.
What you might try is go to a machinist suppy like MSC and order some mold finishing diamond lap compound.
Cut some pieces of hard maple to use like files.They can be formed a bit.Use the grit with the maple like a file.
If you change to a finer grit,change direction,and work till there are no scratches.
If you can settle for a soft lustre,a very fine Scotchbrite is quite forgiving,but,only as a quick finishing touch.

The greatest part of the work must be done by some form of straight tool,like a sanding block.You want to cut off the high spots while you leave the low spots alone.
I have an interesting tool called a DME "Jigger".A pistol shaped affair that makes a 0-10,000 stroke a minute reciprocal motion,controlled by a foot rheostat.It takes various stone holders and picks and laps.My little cable rotary tool is 1/2 hp 10,000 rpm with a 1/4 collet.I cut buffs with a hole saw,2 or 3 in in dia from 1 " thick rock hard felt and put them on a mandrel.I use 1 in dia Tampico end brushes.These are large enough to work flat surfaces.Holes are filled with brass plugs to not wash,etc.

Once again,have fun,but polish with something backed by wood,or a red eraser,or use polishing stones to respect the original form of the part.
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Old October 3, 2008, 12:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
... 000 steel wool to try and brighten the metal up a bit ...
Avoid the steel wool.
It can leave enough smear of carbon steel behind to promote surface rusting.


After machining Stainless is 'pickled' to promote the formation of the protective layer and remove any carbon steel left behind by cutting tools.
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Old October 3, 2008, 12:42 PM   #12
Bill DeShivs
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No it won't. Just wipe it off and oil the surface.
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Old October 3, 2008, 02:27 PM   #13
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The oil will be the only thing preventing the carbon steel from rusting.
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Old October 3, 2008, 05:43 PM   #14
Bill DeShivs
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The steel wool is softer than the gun. Any residue will simply wipe off.
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Old October 4, 2008, 01:31 PM   #15
brickeyee
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Not true.

It is not just about hardness, but about the bonding of one type of steel to another.
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Old October 4, 2008, 01:36 PM   #16
Bill DeShivs
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OK. After 35 years, I haven't seen it.
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Old November 9, 2008, 03:17 PM   #17
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Wenol and a tshirt is what i use on my stainless guns. Wenol is the best IMO.
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Old November 23, 2008, 01:46 PM   #18
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For internal components, I have scavenged some ceramic from old, unusable electronic equipment. Look for Integrated Circuits (IC's) that come in various rectangular sizes - must be ceramic, not plastic as found in newer equipment. Some of them seem to be finer cutting than others so I had a small collection. Pull the IC out of the equipment (if socket mounted) or desolder it. Dremel off the legs and mount it onto something suitable as a handle. I just used them as is however.

Polishing is a very slow process as mentioned but if you can find these, they work pretty sweet.

Obvious disclaimers about messing around inside electronic gear apply!
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