Eastwood Buffing and Metal Finishing


Virtually any metal can be buffed to a mirror-like shine. Aluminum, brass, copper, pot metal, steel and stainless steel can all be buffed to a high shine using the high-quality buffing compounds, wheels, and other supplies available from Eastwood. The contents of the kit you purchased are on the packing list which came with it. Please check the contents of your package against the packing list to ensure that no items were overlooked.

If any of the items on your packing list were not included in your kit, please call
Eastwood Customer Service Department at 1-800-343-9353
to receive any missing items.


  • --- Wear safety glasses or a face shield at all times.
  • --- Always wear a properly fitting dust mask. Prolonged exposure to the fine dust particles can harm your lungs.
  • --- Buffing motors typically spin at over 3,000 rpm and material can be ejected from them at speeds of up to 80 mph.
  • --- Buff so that the wheel runs off the edge, never into the edge of the work piece. If an edge should catch, the piece could be thrown.
  • --- Wear tight fitting LEATHER gloves at all times.
  • --- Hold your work firmly and never look away while buffing.
  • --- Use minimum pressure against the wheel.
  • --- Do not put your fingers inside a piece to hold it.
  • --- Materials being buffed can get hot.
  • --- Avoid handling sharp edges.
  • --- Do not wear loose-fitting clothing and if your hair is long, tie it back or wear a cap.


The Difference Between Polishing and Buffing

Polishing a piece of metal removes a moderate amount of material using coarse to medium abrasives in stages. The piece will have a brushed look and you will not see any reflections in it. Polishing removes scratches and surface imperfections too deep for buffing compounds. If you run your fingernail over a scratch and it gets caught, then you should polish before buffing. The key to polishing is removing just enough material to make the surface even.

Buffing removes very small irregularities and makes the surface almost perfectly smooth by removing asmall amount of metal. Like polishing, buffing is done in stages from coarse to fine. Buffing compound grits are so fine that you might not be able to tell the difference between compounds by feel. Their difference in performance, however, is significant.

What Are “Cutting” and “Coloring” Compounds?

“Cutting” compounds are coarse and will remove a fair amount of material quickly. The first stages of buffing could be referred to as the “cutting” stages.

“Coloring” compounds are extremely fine and result in the mirror-like shine which is the result of an well done buffing project. The final stage of buffing could be referred to as the “coloring” stage.

Practice Makes Perfect!

If you are unfamiliar with any of the steps, we strongly recommend that you practice on a scrap piece of trim. Remember: you can always remove a little more metal, but you can't put it back.


Leveling and Polishing (Smoothing) The Metal Surface

Inspect all pieces before buffing to determine if any prep work is needed. You will need to remove all rust, dents, high spots, and deep scratches. The following sections will explain how to remove these and other imperfections in preparation for buffing.

Dent Removal

In most cases it is possible to restore a dented piece of stainless or aluminum trim to its original condition. Use a Trim Hammer and Anvil just like you would for dents in body work. Start at the outside of the dent and work your way around the outside of the dent and gradually inward in a circular pattern. This will shrink the metal back to its original shape. It is better to make several light passes and work slowly than to try to remove the dent with a few heavy blows.


Next use a fine file (such as an ignition point file) to knock down any high spots, being careful not to remove too much material. Inspect your work to make sure it is as smooth as possible and, if necessary, use the trim hammer to bring up any low spots, then repeat the filing to remove any high spots.

Sanding/Polishing by Hand

Once the piece has been flattened with the trim hammer and file, sand the area with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the file marks (320-600 grit for hard metals). Soft metals like aluminum require little work, while harder metals such as stainless steel will take more time. In some cases hand sanding may be all that is needed if not consider using an expander wheel, greaseless compounds and/or abrasive rolls.

Expander Wheel

Further smoothing the surface at this point will save substantial buffing time. An Expander Wheel Kit combines filing and sanding into one step. It is ideal for larger pieces like grill trim and hubcaps. Work from coarse belts to fine; at least 220 grit for soft metals and 320-600 grit for hard metals. NOTE: It's better to start with an abrasive that's too fine rather than too coarse. For a smoother cut on steel, and leveling aluminum or other soft metals apply Grinder’s Grease (#13119) or Tripoli Compound (#13135) directly to the spinning belt.

3M Trizact Belts on Your Expander Wheel

Additional smoothing can be done with the 3M Trizact Bands, available as a set of 5 (#13159). The precise structure of the Trizact abrasive delivers fast effective cutting and they last 2-5 times longer than regular abrasive bands. They resist loading even when used with aluminum too.These bands are comparable to 100, 200, 400, 700, and 1200 grit.

TECH TIP: For slightly contoured surfaces, use the Finishing Belts (#13139) which combine the cleaning and metal conditioning power of Finishing Belts with the ease-of-use and speed of the Expander Wheel.

TECH TIP: Smoothing soft metal surfaces past 220 grit and hard metal surfaces smoother than 600 grit lessens the need of Tripoli or Emery Compound and speed the buffing process.

Greaseless Compounds
When polishing highly contoured surfaces, use Eastwood’s Greaseless Compounds (80 grit – #13129, 120 grit – #13194, 220 grit – #13131, 320 grit – #13132). When applied to a dedicated spiral sewn or loose section buff, these compounds convert your buff to a flexible sanding wheel. Greaseless compounds can also be applied to mini buffing wheels, goblet and facer buffs, or felt bobs. For use, follow the instructions on the Greaseless Compound labels.

Abrasive Rolls
Abrasive Rolls in both cylinders and tapers in 80, 120, 240, and 320 grits are available for use with your High Speed Pneumatic or Electric Die Grinder. The Mandrels for these rolls are available in lengths from 2 3/4" to 6" long. We recommend using the shortest mandrel that will reach. The cartridge rolls are best used with light side pressure, letting the spinning abrasive roll do the cutting rather than excessive side pressure.


For help choosing a wheel and compound refer to this chart.

Mounting the Buffing Wheel
Attach the buffering wheel to the buffering motor spindle, making sure that it is mounted securely between the flange washers. When mounted properly, the top of the wheel should spin toward you and down when the buffing motor is running. NOTE: Wheel stitching orientation is of no consequence to wheel performance or durability.

Applying Compound to the Buffing Wheel

With the buffing wheel attached and the motor running, gently touch the appropriate tube of compound to the face of the wheel for one to two seconds. Apply the compound slightly below the centerline of the wheel. (See illustration at right)

NOTE: It is normal for the compound to appear to be dried out. The compound consists of a graded abrasive in a hard wax binder. Theheat from contacting the spinning buffing wheel surface will melt the binder and the wheel will pick up the compound.


Problem Possible Cause: Corrective Action
The Wheel Turned black This is normal. No action needed,
Metallic Build-up On Wheel This is normal especially when buffing soft metals like aluminum and brass. Eventually the wheel should be cleaned using the Buff Rake (#13120) to avoid galling the surface.
Back Streaks On part being Buffed This usually indicates excessive compound application. Apply compound often but sparingly.
Scratches/Pits Are Still Visible Even After Final Buffing

Even highly polished surfaces have fine scratches. Most of these can be eliminated by making your last pass with the direction of rotation.
If deeper scratches or pits are noticed, it usually means that polishing and buffing steps were all done in the same direction thus disguising the deeper imperfections. Always change the angle of attack by 90° (or as close as the shape of the part allows) as you work through successively finer grit abrasives and compounds to assure previous grit lines are removed.

Buffing the Right Way

Continued on Page 2 with detailed how to instructions on getting your project smooth, and achieving that mirror finish

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