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Mirror finishing on stainless steel tubes & pipes

Posted by Eddie Thomas on 14 May 2019
Eddie Thomas
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Want to know how to get a quality mirror finish on your stainless steel pipes or tubes?  Look no further - here's a guide to all the tools and techniques you need to make your fabrication shine!

Mirror polishing ss tube

Step 1. Removal

First thing, you'll want to smooth off the weld and/or any other defects that have happened during fabrication.  Your tools and technique will depend on where the joints/defects are, and how difficult they are to access.

Unitized Rap-Lock Disc on Pipe WeldStraight or minor bends

If your fabrication is mainly straight, or has minor bends, you can probably get away with using the same tools as if you were working on a flat piece:

  • Using a Deerfos Bora9 Fibre Disc, 120 grit, carefully remove the weld without gauging or distorting the work.  Keep sanding until you get the desired shape.

T-Sections or tight bends

If your welds are at T sections or around tight bends, chances are your typical flat sanding disc won't be able to reach them, so we've got a couple of different options:

  • Attach a removal grade Buff-Tex Unitized Wheel to your sander and use the edge to reach the joint and carefully remove the weld; or
  • If a full sized wheel is still going to be too big to get into a tight space, try using a removal grade (red) Rap-Lock Unitized Disc

Removal Tool Kit

Deerfos Bora9 Unitized Buff-Tex Wheel RLUTSRE075 - Rap Lock Unitized Disc - Removal Red

For Straight or minor bends: 

Deerfos Bora9 Fibre Disc, 120 grit

For T-Sections or tight bends:

Buff-Tex Unitized Wheel 
Removal grade

For T-Sections or tight bends:

Rap-Lock Unitized Disc 
Removal grade

 

Step 2. Blending & Fine Sanding

After you've leveled the weld and removed any defects, you'll now want to bring these areas up to the base product finish.  To do this you'll need to sand the whole piece to get it ready for polishing.

Once again, your tools and technique will depend on where the joints are, and how difficult they are to access:

Straight or minor bends

  1. Sanding1Start with a Deerfos SA331 Velcro Sanding Disc, P120 grit.  Attach to your sander, and go over the areas you sanded in Step 1. At 4,000-6,500 RPM, move at a 90° angle to the scratches made in the previous step so make sure the they are removed.
  2. Sand the fabricated areas until you have them to about the finish of the original sheet. Once you've done this you will then need to start sanding the whole surface.  Repeat each next step:

    The higher the mirror finish you want, the more you will need to sand. From this point, the higher you sand, the better mirror finish you will get. This next step will take longer to get the prefect finish.

Blending Unitized Rap-LockT-Sections or tight bends

  • Option 1: Buff-Tex Unitized Wheel
    1. Attach a blending grade Buff-Tex Unitized Wheel to your sander and use the edge to reach the joint and blend in the welded area, move at a 90° angle to the scratches made in the previous step so make sure the previous scratches are removed.
    2. Now move to a finishing grade Buff-Tex Unitized Wheel and go over the area again, moving at a 90° angle to the scratches made in the previous step so make sure the previous scratches are removed.
    3. Lastly, change to a polishing grade Buff-Tex Unitized Wheel and go over the area again, moving at a 90° angle to the scratches made in the previous step so make sure the previous scratches are removed.
  • Option 2: Rap-Lock Unitized Disc
    1. If a full sized wheel is still going to be too big to get into a tight space, try using a blending grade (grey) Rap-Lock Unitized Disc. Attach to your sander and use the edge to reach the joint and blend in the welded area, move at a 90° angle to the scratches made in the previous step so make sure the previous scratches are removed.
    2. Now move to a finishing grade (blue)  Rap-Lock Unitized Disc and go over the area again, moving at a 90° angle to the scratches made in the previous step so make sure the previous scratches are removed.
    3. Finally, move to a polishing grade (green)  Rap-Lock Unitized Disc and go over the area again, moving at a 90° angle to the scratches made in the previous step so make sure the previous scratches are removed.

Blending & Fine Sanding Tool Kit

SA331 Disc

Unitized Buff-Tex Wheel Unitized Rap-Lock - Finishing Grade - Blue

For Straight or minor bends: 

Deerfos SA331 Velcro Sanding Discs
P
120 - P2000 grits

For T-Sections or tight bends:

Buff-Tex Unitized Wheel 
Blending, Finishing & Polishing grades

For T-Sections or tight bends:

Rap-Lock Unitized Disc 
Blending, Finishing & Polishing grades

 

Mirror polishing stainless steel pipe-2Step 3. A Mirror Finish 

Now that you've prepared the fabrication for polishing, it's time to give it a brilliant mirror finish!

Grab your sander with a clean Swansdown Dolly Polishing Mop, and on a slow setting apply some 3B Green Rouge Polishing Compound to the mop (or for a super jewelry like polish use Blue Hubble

Set the sander to 2,000-3,000 RPM, and polish over the entire fabrication, making sure to get into all the curves and corners.  For any areas you can't reach with the mop, these will need to be manually polished. 

Polishing Tool Kit

 

Swansdown Dolly Mop

Green Rouge Bar

 

Swansdown Dolly Polishing Mop

3B Green Rouge Polishing Compound   

 

Topics: Metal Finishing