Brushed aluminium

  m800afc 02:23 04 Aug 2007

I have just obtained a piece of aluminium plate for a project I am working on. It was an offcut from a specialists, and so is marked on both surfaces. I think this may be a stupid question, but what is the best way of getting a brushed aluminium finish? Yes, I know...brush it!!!
I am keen to get an even finish and as the piece is quite large, 1500mmx200mm, I was wondering if a domestic wood working belt sander would do the job. Also should the surface be lubricated with oil and/or water? Any alternatives and tips gratefully received.

  WhiteTruckMan 02:41 04 Aug 2007

Caustic soda solution will bring it up nice and bright. I used to use it on my tanker on the ally platework, side crash bars, fuel tank and other stuff on the truck while I was getting cleaned out at the tank wash. But be warned-its not nice stuff to come into contact with. Use pvc gloves, eye protection and have plenty of water to hand. What it essentially does is chemically etch off the top few layers of molecules. Application is a bucket and sponge job, rinse with a garden hose. Time between application and rinse depends on strength of solution and condition of metal. Try with a small sample first.


  Probabilitydrive 07:48 04 Aug 2007

Haven't tried it, but here are some useful tips click here Regarding WhiteTruckMan's suggestions; I would inform myself by the local council where and how to dispose the caustic soda solution after the job has finished.

  spuds 12:47 04 Aug 2007

Depending on how you mean 'marked'.

Deep indentations would need to be polished or ground out with special formulated disks,available from merchandisers possibly Screwfix or Cromwell Tools, not an ordinary belt sander with a wood or steel metalworking belt, as these will leave further 'graining' on the aluminium sheet's.

Some car accessory shops stock specialist products for aluminium.

Minor surface marking, you could try something like Fairy washing-up liquid or Brasso.

If you have to scrape, use wood or plastic implements , not metal, as this could leave scratch marks, which could make the exercise far worse.

  Totally-braindead 13:21 04 Aug 2007

I would try very fine wet and dry myself, that would scratch it for a brushed finish without gouging it. You would need to make sure you move in one direction IE top to bottom.
Then to protect it either lacquer or varnish it. Lacquer would be best I suppose it depends on what its used for. It might be best not protecting it afterwards depending on what you're using it for.

  Totally-braindead 13:23 04 Aug 2007

Oh the sander by the way is not a good idea in my opinion, it would really gouge the surface, it wouldn't look brushed it would look scratched.
I realise the items rather large but fine wet and dry wouldn't take long as aluminium scratches easily. If you can try it on a spare bit.

  Totally-braindead 13:38 04 Aug 2007

Just remembered how I did this when I was in school, fine wire wool and oil for lubrication - should have thought of that before.

  wolfie3000 15:15 04 Aug 2007

Just an idea, and probably a bad expensive one but here goes,

Try using valve grinding compound (i used this stuff when fixing generators a few years back).

Its nice and coarse and i guess it would give you the effect of brushed aluminium,

Just apply a bit to an old rage and rub away.

As i said it might be a little expensive and im not even sure it it would work. :s

click here

  Starfox 16:08 04 Aug 2007

T.B got it right with the steel wool and oil method, that's how we do custom aluminium work for small parts.

You need- Fine grade steel wool
Can of machine oil (3in1 or similar)
Pair protective gloves

Lightly coat the surface with some of the oil and then use a piece of steel wool wrapped over a small block of wood.

Rub across the aluminium laterally (back and forth) do not use a cicular motion or it will not look right, keep oiling the surface and when you are satisfied with the appearance wipe off the oil. If you have a buffing pad and an electric drill you can gloss the finish using the buffer and some furniture polish or slicone spray.

If you have a bit to practice on first it will help, not easy to get it right the first time.

  m800afc 18:16 04 Aug 2007

Thanks very much for the tips. I shall let you know how I get on

  Eargasm 22:17 04 Aug 2007

I'm a sheet metal worker, and am constantly working with stainless steel and aluminium.
I would follow Starfox's advice, making sure that you brush down the length of the plate as it's quite narrow at 200mm wide. Aluminium is fairly easy to buff up, incidently how thick is the plate ?

I would finish off with a brown " scotchbrite" pad which will blend in the "brush" effect superbly. check out the link below

click here

If you are struggling finding the pads pm me and i will post you a couple.

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