Buffing and Polishing Stainless Steel
Buffing and polishing using cotton string wheels and compound is like using sandpaper, only much faster. Instead of using elbow grease you are using the power and speed of an electric motor.
The edge or face of the wheel is the sanding block, carrying a thin layer of compound, which is the sandpaper. Different grades of compound are scaled similar to sandpaper. The compounds are made from a wax substance, allowing different abrasive powders to be added. When the compound is applied to the edge of a spinning buffing wheel, the heat from the friction melts the wax and as a result, both the wax and abrasive are applied as a thin slick to the face of the cotton string brush. The object of buffing and polishing stainless steel is to remove scratches and gouges on the surface. Each work piece will be in a different condition and will need different procedures.
Imagine the scratched surface of the stainless steel magnified hundreds of times—it would look like jagged mountains and valleys. It is these mountains and valleys that dissipate light and highlight the scratch or gauge on the surface. With repeated buffing, those mountains continue to smooth until they are soft, rolling hills. They will not dissipate light, but rather reflect it. It is the reflection of the light that makes the buffed stainless steel glistening!
RotoBuff’s cotton string buffing wheels are densely filled with a soft white cotton yarn, specially designed for compounds. Unlike cloth buffing wheels, our buffing wheels have thousands of string ends to hold buffing compound and have high pliability to enable finishes on irregular surfaces.
Polisher: Attach a Roto Buff cotton brush to a variable speed polisher.
RotoBuff’s cotton string buffing wheel (4 x 4 x 5/8-11)
Applying Compound to a Brush
Apply only the same compound to each brush. Applying different compounds to the same brush will be problematic; resulting in a mixture of abrasive surfaces and metal deposits left over from the more abrasive operation. These microscopic particles only scratch the surface, destroying any benefit gained from buffing with a finer compound. Remember, too much compound will reduce the effectiveness of the cutting action because the surface will become greasy and over lubricated.
We recommend that you dress several brushes with each of the compounds:
- Two brushes with 80 grit compound
- Two brushes with 180 grit compound
- Two brushes with 240 grit compound
- Two brushes with 400 grit compound
- Two brushes for white compound – fine finish.
The easiest way to apply compound is to attach the brush to a variable speed bench mount grinder. If accessible, a lathe will also work.
-Mount grinder with RotoBuff cotton string wheel. Run the grinder at half speed and press the greaseless compound against the brush. This applies a thin layer of abrasive onto the cotton string wheel. After the first application of compound, redressing the brush is very easy. The compound will take at least 30minutes to fully air dry. You can speed up this process by baking the brush under a heat lamp for 10minutes or by using a pizza convection oven. You can bake four brushes at the same time for 10minutes at 200° F. Your brushes are now similar to emery paper. It is helpful to mark each brush on the flat end with a marking pen to identify which grit is on the brush.
Roto Buff brushes are easy to dry! *Note: The white compound can be applied to the cotton brush while it is spinning on the polisher at half speed; however, the white compound does not get baked.
Choosing the Right Wheel
Roto Buff brushes are made specially for general to unique jobs. The surface will determine which abrasive brush to use first. For example, if you have a deep scratch in your stainless steel you may start with an 80 grit brush, then switch to less abrasive grits until you get the finish you desire. If the scratch is mild you may use a 240 grit or a 400 grit brush to get the job done. The white compound is used to obtain a remarkable mirror finish. Questions? Contact us!
Video features: The Many Uses of Stainless Steel, Self-repairing for Lasting Value and Steel-How it's Made!
THE BUFF IN ACTION!