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Working on Stainless Trim
#1257969 Fri Mar 09 2018 04:56 AM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 15,271
Boltergeist
Of all the things I have done I do not have any experience with Stainless trim.....well, very little.

My question is this: I have some stainless pieces of trim that I can polish and make shine but how do you get the
"fine scratches" out of it. I have used fine steel wool and it helps but needs a little more. I'm thinking maybe 1500 sandpaper or 2000....or do I need to start with 220 or something similar.

Please share your secrets and steps that you take to get a piece looking like new.


1937 Chevy Pickup [stovebolt.com]
1952 Chevy Panel [stovebolt.com]
Pictures in my Photobucket [s140.photobucket.com]
1950 Chevy Coupe
https://photos.google.com/share/AF1...Nko1cUJCNFFMTVFEUnNRbjFhNTFPc1J4YWV4cmRB

52 Chevy Panel [photos.app.goo.gl]

I'd rather walk and carry a Chevy hub cap than ride in a Ferd.
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Re: Working on Stainless Trim
Achipmunk #1257986 Fri Mar 09 2018 02:12 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 9,299
Grease Monkey, Moderator General Truck Talk & Greasy Spoon
Jewelers rouge?


Martin
'62 Chevy C-10 Stepside Shortbed (Restomod in progress)
'47 Chevy 3100 5 Window (long term project)
ā€˜65 Chevy Biscayne 4dr 230 I-6 one owner (Iā€™m #2)
ā€˜39 Dodge Businessmans Coupe
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Re: Working on Stainless Trim
Achipmunk #1257990 Fri Mar 09 2018 02:34 PM
Joined: Oct 2015
Posts: 349
F
Shop Shark
Depending on what you are starting with as far as damage goes, you can start with 220 but that's pretty coarse. You might want to start with green jewelers rouge on a buffing wheel. Black rouge is more coarse than green.
Wet and dry sand paper used with water works good but the stainless kicks the crap out of it so change your paper often. Once you've determined how bad the scratches are that you want gone, you work your way from coarse grits to finer grits. You might find that you need to start at 220, and if so, then go 400, 600, 800, 100, 1200, 1500, 2000 then rouge.
I researched (like you are) because I knew nothing about it and decided to tackle it. The process is very time consuming, mind numbing at times and nerve racking too when the buffer is spinning like mad and you are working on a curved piece... cross the wheel with your piece of stainless and it will turn into a pretzel in a nano second!
The pictures below show steps from a hole being welded shut, then the different stages up to polished.
Good luck!

Attached Files
IMG_1560.JPG (55.04 KB, 375 downloads)
IMG_1564.JPG (34.88 KB, 381 downloads)
IMG_1569.JPG (30.74 KB, 364 downloads)
IMG_1574.JPG (28.13 KB, 363 downloads)
IMG_1227.JPG (45.03 KB, 353 downloads)

~~ Darcy

1959 GMC 9310 Canadian- built Shortbox Fleetside Deluxe
FootStomper
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Re: Working on Stainless Trim
Achipmunk #1257991 Fri Mar 09 2018 02:38 PM
Joined: Oct 2015
Posts: 349
F
Shop Shark
Originally Posted by Achipmunk
My question is this: I have some stainless pieces of trim that I can polish and make shine but how do you get the
"fine scratches" out of it.


To answer your question directly, you need to sand it with sand paper that's coarse enough to remove the scratches without making deeper (more coarse) scratches, then use finer and finer grits up to 2000. Then polish.

You might end up polishing it a few times to see your final results only to see that you have missed some scratches and need to redo it once again.

Last edited by FootStomper; Fri Mar 09 2018 02:40 PM.

~~ Darcy

1959 GMC 9310 Canadian- built Shortbox Fleetside Deluxe
FootStomper
In the Stovebolt Gallery
In the Project Journals Forum
Re: Working on Stainless Trim
Achipmunk #1258005 Fri Mar 09 2018 03:55 PM
Joined: Apr 2016
Posts: 585
M
Shop Shark
I have been spending many hours polishing lately. One thing I have learned is first do no harm. It's better to take longer with a finer abrasive than to use a heavier one and then try to get the scratches out. On more fragile pieces I like to use die grinders with embedded abrasive nylon 2" rol-lok wheels, much more forgiving. There are lots of polishing wheels for die grinders of various sizes and shapes. Also a 2" orbital die grinder is handy and hook and loop disk can be gotten up to 10,000 grit. none of this is very expensive. I use Eastwood emery compound and then their stainless compound to finish. Hope this helps.


Old enough to know better, too young to resist.
Re: Working on Stainless Trim
Achipmunk #1258026 Fri Mar 09 2018 05:11 PM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 15,271
Boltergeist
Thanks guys. I think I'm on the right path.
The used some polish and then a coat of wax to shine it up a bit and after getting all the tarnish and dullness off that is when I could really see the real light stuff. As light as it is I think I'll start with 1000 grit. My polisher went down the drain so doing it by hand is really gonna take some time but I'll get it "acceptable".

Thanks for everyone's comments.


1937 Chevy Pickup [stovebolt.com]
1952 Chevy Panel [stovebolt.com]
Pictures in my Photobucket [s140.photobucket.com]
1950 Chevy Coupe
https://photos.google.com/share/AF1...Nko1cUJCNFFMTVFEUnNRbjFhNTFPc1J4YWV4cmRB

52 Chevy Panel [photos.app.goo.gl]

I'd rather walk and carry a Chevy hub cap than ride in a Ferd.
I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you smile
Re: Working on Stainless Trim
Achipmunk #1258040 Fri Mar 09 2018 08:28 PM
Joined: Oct 2015
Posts: 349
F
Shop Shark
I suggest you get a piece of scrap stainless steel and sand it with 1000 grit and try to hand polish it because I highly doubt you will be able to hand polish it. Stainless steel is extremely hard and only machine tools will be able to polish 1000 grit sand scratches. Try it and let us know your results but I'd hate to see you create more work than is necessary.
Here's a scrap piece I have that I simply buffed without any sanding at all... perhaps that's all you need to do too? Just try buffing it?


Attached Files
20180309_132510.jpg (46.98 KB, 319 downloads)
20180309_132526.jpg (31.31 KB, 328 downloads)
20180309_132545.jpg (29.46 KB, 312 downloads)

~~ Darcy

1959 GMC 9310 Canadian- built Shortbox Fleetside Deluxe
FootStomper
In the Stovebolt Gallery
In the Project Journals Forum
Re: Working on Stainless Trim
Achipmunk #1258050 Fri Mar 09 2018 10:32 PM
Joined: Jul 2013
Posts: 986
Shop Shark
Using a bench grinder with the buffing wheels attached, white polishing rouge and red jewelers rouge is the easiest and best way to polish stainless steel trim. However, I have used #0000 steel wool with Flitz polish or Semichrome polish to had polish stainless with good results. After the #0000 steel wool with the polish, finish it with just the polish and a soft cotton cloth. To get the fine scratches out of the stainless without a buffer, use 1500 grit, then 2000 grit and the 3000 grit 3M wet dry sand paper...then the #0000 steel wool and Flitz or Semichrome metal polish.

Tim


"Pay attention to the details! It ALWAYS pays off."

1949 Chevrolet 3100 Series 1/2 ton Pickup
1964 Chevrolet C10 (Ol' Yella) (SOLD)
1958 Chevrolet Biscayne 2 door (SOLD)
1970 VW Beetle
Re: Working on Stainless Trim
fixit1958 #1258057 Sat Mar 10 2018 12:20 AM
Joined: Sep 2017
Posts: 141
L
Shop Shark
Originally Posted by fixit1958
Using a bench grinder with the buffing wheels attached, white polishing rouge and red jewelers rouge is the easiest and best way to polish stainless steel trim. However, I have used #0000 steel wool with Flitz polish or Semichrome polish to had polish stainless with good results. After the #0000 steel wool with the polish, finish it with just the polish and a soft cotton cloth. To get the fine scratches out of the stainless without a buffer, use 1500 grit, then 2000 grit and the 3000 grit 3M wet dry sand paper...then the #0000 steel wool and Flitz or Semichrome metal polish.

Tim

I agree with Tim x2. You want a buffer that doesn't turn as fast as the harbor freight ones to buff stainless to a high gloss with no scratches. Use a new buffing pad and white rouge for final buff. Mine runs at 1725 rpm, and I think that"s just a tad fast. But I have wonderful results with trim. I could never get the marks out with sanding.


1961 ford f500
1953 3100 five window (https://www.facebook.com/1953-Chevrolet-5-window-1533405913413610/)
1955-2 3200 big window (https://www.facebook.com/Leep3200/)
55yrs as a mechanic and retired. (kind of)
Re: Working on Stainless Trim
Achipmunk #1258066 Sat Mar 10 2018 02:13 AM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 409
M
Shop Shark
It is risky to use steel wool to polish stainless. The microscopic particles of steel left behind will cause stainless to rust, especially the nonmagnetic 300 series stainless. We have used a Scotchbrite fine light deburring wheel on a bench grinder to remove tooling marks prior to buffing trim pieces with good results. Scotchbrite hand pads are less effective. If you use wet/dry paper, start with no more coarse than 320 and go to 600 and maybe 1000 before buffing with a buffing wheel. Try to have your sanding motion with each finer grit not exactly parallel to the motion of the previous, but at a slight angle, maybe 30 degrees or so. Your last passes should be parallel to the trim piece edges not across it. Those scratches remaining will be much less visible.

Good luck with your project.

Mar-Ktech

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