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What is Polishing, Its Types and Tools

What is Polishing?

What is Polishing, Its Types and Tools

Polishing is a process to get a reflective surface. Typically, the polish is generated by employing a fine-micron or sub-micron abrasive particle together with a liquid. Polishing is a "wet" process, and it often utilizes a pad to contain the abrasive.

During the polishing process, very little material is removed, which is usually measured in microns. The surface finish of the work-piece must be of top quality before the polishing process happens. Therefore the pre-polishing process is usually a "lapped" surface.

What is Metal Polishing?

The polishing of surfaces is a finishing operation, which consists of realizing a series of stages or work steps that combine abrasive actions and polishing actions to discover a bright, uniform, smooth surface freed from defects visible.

Polishing allows eliminating small scratches, scratches, orange rind, contaminating particles, and any little damage caused by rubbing or abrasion.

In this way, the sanding and polishing process prevents the treated surfaces from having to be repainted to point out a perfect finish:

  • Improve the aesthetics of surfaces
  • They recover their initial state
  • Eliminate the matt areas
  • They finally recover their brightness

At present, most of the polishing works are very diverse mechanical processes, which are administered on multiple materials: varnish or lacquer, metal, glass, wood, plastic and in several sorts of the industry: from headlight polishing, taps, fittings, glass, metal components, tires, to the polishing of ships, aircraft, and cars.

What is a Buffing Wheel?

A buffing wheel is a polishing tool used to smooth and polish metal surfaces and carry a polishing compound. The compound is applied on the buffing wheel when it spins (either with a handheld rotary drill or an industrial scale motor polisher). Consistently using the polishing compound on the rotating buffing wheel leaves the jewelry piece smooth and with a high shine. Let's see here Types of Buffing Wheels.

Types of Buffing Wheels

  • Abrasive wheels for rough cutting and getting rid of jagged edges and deep scratches.
  • 3M Radial bristle used for polishing discs without the need for polishing compounds.
  • Cylinder, bullet & pin polishers useful for polishing hard-to-reach details
  • Soft buffing wheels and mops useful for finishing pieces with a professional, mirror shine.
  • Matting abrasive wheels useful for creating a specific matt effect.

        Types of Polishing

        Following are the types of polishing:

        • Soft or hard pads employing a conventional or particular purpose abrasive slurry
        • Soft or hard pads utilizing a diamond abrasive slurry which can be water-base or oil-base
        • Hard pads using a diamond compound and lubricant
        • Diamond slurry polishing employing a composite plate
        • Diamond slurry polishing employing a metal plate
        • Fixed-abrasive films (captured abrasive) and lube

        Polishing can also be used to recover a surface to its original state or to eliminate scratches and scratches, among other possible applications. The polishing tools that ought to be utilized in each case depend upon what surface we are getting to work on and the precision we require. Technical advances have made specific solutions that are ready to help us make this sanding work faster and safer in recent years.

        Steps of Polishing Process

        Steps of Polishing Process

        Although the technique and industrial polishing work are specific to every activity or industry, generally, all polishing tools combine the utilization of micro-abrasives, abrasive compounds, or pastes for roughing, polishing, and protecting, wool berets and sponges to perform the work.

        In general, polishing work consists of subsequent steps:


            It is about roughing the surface to eliminate the defects of the last layer of lacquer applied. This process is often administered selectively, with a mini roto-orbital sander, or generally over the whole surface of the part, with a roto-orbital sander's assistance.


            • Once the roughing is completed, and with a polisher's assistance, the affected area is brushed up with a quick-cut abrasive paste.
            • This action aims to eliminate the scratches generated by 1500, 2000, or 3000-grain micro-abrasives.
            • The treated surface, unlike the remainder of the piece, features a nuanced appearance thanks to the removal generated by the cutting compound that contains abrasive particles in its composition.
            • For spreading the abrasive paste, wool berets or polishing sponges of various hardnesses are usually used.


                This step is meant to recover the brightness of the nuanced surface and provides uniformity to the finish of the whole piece.

                With the assistance of a polisher and a polishing sponge, we'll apply the polishing compound, then proceed to wash the surface with a microfiber dishcloth.


                  Similar to the previous step, we will protect the ultimate finish by applying a protective wax coat, which will make the supreme luster more durable.

                  Essential Considerations for Polishing Process

                  During roughing

                  • Use roto-orbital sanders with small orbits of two .5 or 3 mm. during this way, the dreaded "snail marks" will be less visible and more comfortable to get rid of because of the subsequent steps.
                  • If we would like a touch aggressive roughing, it's convenient to spray drops of water on the surface we are sanding. In this way, the presence of water acts as a refrigerant generating less deep streaks.
                  • Avoid performing roughing work with the perimeter of the disc. Support it entirely horizontally on the surface.
                  • Use abrasive discs with polyester film support rather than conventional discs with the paper support. Film discs generate less roughness and more uniform than paper.

                    During polishing

                    • Carry out the polishing operation with fast-cutting pastes, avoiding overheating the surface to avoid removing or veiling the finishing material.
                    • Wool berets, despite their soft-touch appearance, are more aggressive than polishing sponges. This is often because wool fibers allow a more significant amount of cutting compound to be retained. If the utilization of wool berets is hugely aggressive, you'll prefer to use medium-high hardness polishing sponges.
                    • Ensure that the abrasive compound to be used is in perfect condition: neither too liquid nor too hardened or dried. Terrible storage conditions deteriorate these compounds.
                    • Use polishers as far as possible with anti hologram movements and with a speed regulator. It's recommended to pick a working coffee speed, around 900 rpm.

                      During brightening

                        • With the assistance of a microfiber dishcloth, clean the surface before performing the polishing process to eliminate the remains of abrasive paste from roughing the previous step.
                        • For the polishing paste appliance, use a replacement polishing sponge, different from the one previously used. Just in case you're obliged to use it, proceed before a radical washing with clean water.
                        • Perform polishing and add the range of 1,100-1,200 rpm.
                        • Before performing each step, the surface must be cleaned thoroughly. For this, we'll use microfiber dishcloths that don't scratch the surface (use a special dishcloth at each stage). The utilization of conventional cleaning dishcloths isn't recommended.

                          Safety Instructions for Surface Polishing

                          When tools are won't to polish surfaces with Buffing Wheels, certain safety precautions must be taken:

                          • First of all, it's advisable to figure on safe surfaces, even better if you've got a workbench.
                          • Professional gloves and protective goggles should be worn to avoid the parts that come off the surfaces when polished can damage the eyes.
                          • For an equivalent reason, it's advisable to use aprons or work overalls to guard against splashes of abrasive pastes projected.
                          • Polishing tools are safe but must be kept in fitness for correct operation and far away from water exposure.

                          Once the work is finished, clean the tools to stop the remains of pasted pastes from compacting and may generate some quiet defects or problems.

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