The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Skunkworks > The Smithy

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old December 20, 2001, 10:06 AM   #1
Join Date: February 26, 2001
Location: Murfreesboro, TN
Posts: 97
Polish Stainless?

Can brushed stainless be polished out to a mirror shine like those shiny Colt .38 Supers? I'm thinking of turning my 1066 into a Sunday go to meetin' gun... found some really nice grips from Hogue.... I think it would look great... well, shiny anyway... thanks in advance.

DCloudy777 is offline  
Old December 20, 2001, 10:20 AM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: December 2, 2000
Posts: 154
My Firestar 45 in Starvel did,althiough that was not intended.I used Flitz to clean it.It shows fingerprints though.
Tracer is offline  
Old December 20, 2001, 01:40 PM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: September 20, 2001
Location: Columbia, SC
Posts: 236
I buffed out my matt finished Taurus Raging Bull to a mirror reflection finish. It took an 8" bench grinder with the wheels and the side covers removed and an 8" buffing wheel installed. I used a rough cut for stainless then a finish cut. Took about 8 hours total buffing. And lots of disassembly. But I now have a one of a kind. Well almost, Taurus had a prototype bright stainless in .44 mag on their website. I called Taurus to try and get one, and their reply? "We don't make a .44 Raging Bull in bright stainless" Me: Well, you have it pictured on your website?
Taurus: That was a prototype. no one wanted to order any that way, so we don't offer it. Do a web serch on "Stainless Polishing" and your going to get many hits on suppliers.
ScottsGT is offline  
Old December 21, 2001, 07:02 AM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: February 20, 1999
Location: home on the range; Vermont (Caspian country)
Posts: 14,270

Stainless steel wool and crocus cloth.
"all my ammo is mostly retired factory ammo"
WESHOOT2 is offline  
Old December 21, 2001, 09:59 AM   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: August 27, 2000
Location: Hudson Valley, NY
Posts: 489

I'm not aware of any guns made in Poland that are stainless. But then again, I haven't ... uhhh ... wait a minute.

Never mind.

- Leonidas of Sparta, 480 B.C.
LIProgun is offline  
Old December 21, 2001, 09:25 PM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: December 11, 2001
Location: Palo Alto, People's Republic of Kaliforny
Posts: 724
Do you mean brushed or bead-blasted? My 1076 is bead-blasted, aka matte finish. Brushed finish is what you get with a fine-grit abrasive belt. and is typified by parallel scratches. Brushed finish usually winds up on slide flats as a shinier accent to blued or matte finishes.

The point of this distinction is that bead-blasting can be polished off with a buffing wheel, whereas brushed finish has fairly deep scratches, which will require real work to remove. If you polish brushed finish, you're left with a "scratched mirror" look, with shiny metal interspersed with burnished scratches. Bead-blast finish can leave pits behind in the same way if the blast abrasive was fairly coarse.

Most brush finishes are in the realm of 220-320 grit abrasive. If you have to remove such scratches, you're looking at removing a couple of thousandths of material over several square inches. This is best accomplished with sequentially finer grits of emery cloth and sand paper. Each polishing step must be thorough, so as to remove all the scratches from the coarser grits. This gets tricky down at the finer (400-600) levels, and it's frustrating to find scrathes that won't polish out when you're trying to change to the next grit. Spot-polishing particularly deep marks does not pay off, as you will dig dips in the surface. Mirror finishes reveal even the slightest flaws or dips in the surface. Once you get down to 600 grit, you can move to buffing.

Try a buffing wheel and Jewler's rouge or Simichrome. You can get different grits of rouge at lapidary supply stores. For tight spots, the hard felt wheels for Dremel tools are just the ticket.

BE CAREFUL WITH THE BUFFING WHEEL! You can easily dig "waves" into the surfaces that want to be flat. Even the finest polishes can do this with the help of the wheel. Polishing out mistakes of this type gualifies as sweaty gruntwork. Of course, the real fix is to go get the coarse grit and start over.

Large flats can be polished with sanding blocks to avoid dips. I like to use hardwood blocks with a layer of sheet rubber, like a bicycle inner tube, applied with spray adhesive.

I got out my 1076 and looked at it. Realistically, this is HOURS of work. If you think your time is worth anything, look into handing the task off to a professional. A sloppily done polishing job can look terrible. Mirror finish is absolutely unforgiving. Think of the finish on cheap nickle-plated automatics...

I learned all this the hard way, making high-vacuum mass-spectrometer manifolds out of stainless steel for Hewlett-Packard. The people working in their Q-A department were VERY picky, and enjoyed rejecting entire batches of assemblies if they found one tiny little flaw.

I hope this helps. You're looking at a labor-intensive, messy sweaty job. (That black stuff gets everywhere, and it's hard to wash off.) Gun manufacturers look at polishing as skilled labor, so perhaps it is not casually done, unless you have copious amounts of the patience it takes to get the job done right.

Of course, you don't HAVE to be as persnickity about it as me...
I find the world disappointing at best.

I'm reminded of that every time the phone rings.

"The telephone is an infernal device whereby any damnfool with a nickel can ruin your whole day."---Mark Twain

Hand_Rifle_Guy is offline  
Old January 3, 2002, 07:15 AM   #7
Join Date: October 28, 2001
Location: Central, KY
Posts: 18
I polished the flats on the slide of my Stainless Kimber this past weekend. It took me about 2 hours and the finish came out to a near mirror finish. First get a piece of 1/4" glass about 1' square, you need a true flat surface. You'll need some sandpaper, get the kind thats for wood and metal in 220, 300, 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1500, and 2000. Get extra of the 220, and 300 as these are the two you'll spend the most time with, also try to get full size sheeets of sandpaper they are easier to work with. Once you have the sandpaper and glass tape the first piece of sandpaper to the glass using duct tape. Disassemble the slide and make sure your sights do not protrude past the flats on the slide. Then carefully work the slide long ways across the paper, I used a back and forth motion, use firm pressure. Be sure to not let the slide slip and sand the rounded surfaces. If your slide is like me there will be some "low" areas on the slide that will have a frost apperance after you work it with the 220 grit. Work the slide on the 220 grit until yo get an even dull sheen with the 220 grit with no frost. Work your way up the grits through 2000. You should now have a very smooth finish. I used Flitz as a final polish. I think it looks good with the polished flats and bead blasted rounds. I though about doing the frame but though it would be to hard to keep finger prints and oil off the frame. Let us know how it turns out.
BiG_MaN is offline  
Old January 4, 2002, 11:51 AM   #8
SW 586
Senior Member
Join Date: March 9, 2000
Posts: 269
Having worked in the stainless steel fabricating and finishing industry for 30 years myself, I will say that Hand Rifle Guy is very knowledgeable in this area. I agree with everything in his post from the first sentence to the last.
"I started out with nothing and I still have most of it left"
SW 586 is offline  
Old January 4, 2002, 02:34 PM   #9
Senior Member
Join Date: October 29, 1999
Location: Dewey, AZ
Posts: 12,858
I also agree with all of HRGs post.

when cleanin up brushed or matte stainless you soon discover the flat places aren't. Non shiny finish allows mediocre workmanship to sell.

C.R.Sam is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:36 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2017 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.08829 seconds with 7 queries