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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am attempting to polish a matt stainless pistol. I am not concerned about reducing the re sale value I just want a custom shooter that I will personalize, hang on to and shoot. I have no real experience with this but I have aquired a Redwing 2 speed lathe and am looking for advice on materials and techniques to get started. I realize I will not get a mirror factory like finish starting off with a factory matt finish but just want to do the best I can with what I have. So what type of wheel and compound to start with and what to go progressivly finer with? Should I use different size wheels? How about a Dremel for tight spots? I know there is allot to this but since I am working on a pistol that I would ask the big brush stroke question here first. Any experience would be appreciated. Thanks, Richee
 

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I was going to do this and then seen some examples that had been done and the destruction of the rollmarks and Rampant Colt and just couldn't bring mysef to do it. I am not worried about the resale either, but to me the improvement in finish was way offset by the destruction to the markings. YMMV
 

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Power polishing is NOT a good move unless you've developed the skills and technique.
This is why a bad blue job is bad, it's not the bluing, it's the poor quality polishing.
It's because the polisher doesn't do enough to develop and maintain the skills.

Power polishing is how sharp corners and edges get rounded off, defining lines between the side of a frame and the top get blurred, holes get dished out, lettering and stamps get buffed out, and you get waves and ripples in the flats and along the barrel.
Nothing looks worse than a gun that's been over polished by a inexperienced polisher.

Most of the professional gun refinisher services and the factories have people who do nothing but polishing eight hours a day, and have done so for years. They've developed the skills and "touch" and maintain those skills.

With that said, you can do far less damage by polishing by hand with metal polishes and cloths. You can bring the metal to a high shine that won't be as good as a factory job, but you also won't ruin a nice gun.
My advice, unless you can find a few old junk guns to practice on to develop the skills and "touch" stay away from power tools and stick with hand polishing and metal polish.
There's very few areas on a gun where a Dremel will do a good polishing job. The Dremel polishing heads are simply too small to do any area of any size and will seldom do a good looking job.

With that said:
The correct polishing equipment is NOT soft muslin buffs. These "dig in" and that's what causes the dished holes and rounded off edges.
The way professional polishers do it is with HARD felt LARGE diameter wheel buffs they "stack" to make very wide polishing wheels.
This hard, wide, large diameter felt wheel gives a larger surface that keeps flat surfaces flat and prevents ripples.
For areas like inside trigger guards and the flutes of cylinders as well as other areas, special shaped polishing heads are used that fit the contour of the area perfectly.
Any polishing wheel or head is used with only ONE polishing media grit, so you have a fair number of felt wheels and special shapes.

The polishing motor is not a lathe. For shop use, you use a large, powerful electric motor in a polishing hood. The hood both protects you if/when you slip and the work gets grabbed out of your hands, and is a dust collector.
The motor needs to be a big one and it needs to be set up to take stacked hard felt buffs at least six inches thick and eight inches or more in diameter.

Colt used to use large wooden wheels covered with walrus hide to do their polishing.



With all that said:
This is a technical site. If you come here you'll be told the truth, not what you want to hear.
The truth is, unless you're willing to expend a considerable amount of time learning the skill, OR you're a one in a million super talented natural at it, what you're going to do is absolutely ruin a good gun.
It may look great to you, (which is really all that matters) and your friends may think it's great, but the first time you show it to someone who knows about good polishing, watch his eyes as he tries to figure out how to tell you what an abortion it is and how you destroyed a nice gun.
 

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dfariswheel knows what he is talking about.

Get out your Flitz polish and microfiber cloth, and hand polish your gun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Great posts, Thanks, if I wanted to practice what is the best compound to use with firm felt wheels ?
 

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Mothers and a forefinger If you can destroy a roll mark with a finger your the man
 

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You can buy polishing media and large diameter hard felt wheels from Brownell's:

metal polish at Brownells

Polishing media usually comes in cardboard tubes or in candy bar-like cakes.
Other good sources of metal polishing equipment and the large electric motors and polishing hoods can be bought from Jantz Supply and Texas Knifemakers Supply.

Again, you HAVE to have a large powerful electric motor to do gun polishing. Only a big motor can spin the large diameter buffs.
Also, stack the felt buffs to make wide wheels at least 6" and better, even wider to polish flats and barrels.
Use ONE polish on ONE set of wheels and label the wheels as to which grit it's used with. You can go UP in grit on a wheel, but you can never go down to a finer grit because the wheel will be loaded with the coarser grit.

Needless to say, wear a plastic face shield, not goggles, and a respirator unless you have a dust hood collector system. DON'T breath the dust, it's polishing media and metal dust.

Last...BE CAREFUL.
All it takes is an instant for the work to be snatched out of your hand and it gets thrown with tremendous force.
This not only destroys the part, it can also just about destroy YOU if you get hit or the wheel grabs your hand.
 

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A serious word of caution: The single most dangerous piece of equipment in a knife maker's workshop is, without doubt, the buffer. I have seen the results of a brass knife guard fly from a firm grip, through the buffing wheel, bouncing off the fender of the next door neighbor's car...people have been stabbed, cut, or otherwise severely injured by errant knife blades when the buffer decides that that old guy, according to O'Toole's corollary to Murphy's Law, that say's Murphy was an optimist.
 

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No joke.
I can't remember his name but some years ago one of the most famous custom knife makers had a knife snatched out of his hands by the buffer and it hit his leg, severing an artery.

If his next door neighbor hadn't heard him screaming and knew exactly what to do, he would have bled to death right there.
 
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