View Full Version : How to polish a stainless barrel..??

04-12-2011, 12:23 AM
Need some input guys...I have a friend that wants his new S/S match grade barrel polished to a high luster finish to match his polished Stolle action...my lathe has a max rpm of 1400 rpm...and I normally start with 400 grit paper then go to 600 then 1000 and finally 2000 grit autobody W/D sandpaper...but the finish is no where near the polished Panda...any ideas???

Eddie in Texas

jackie schmidt
04-12-2011, 12:30 AM
You should have never used the sandpaper. I use Scotch Bright, starting with course, then going to the fine. I can get one darned pretty with this.

The 1400 is plenty fast. My Pratt tops out at 1200.......jackie

04-12-2011, 01:19 AM
Use a Buffer, like the ones used in auto body shops, and mothers or chrome and stainless polish

04-12-2011, 02:47 PM
If you have sanded it to 2000 grit with steps in between, all you need to do is get some pads and put simichrome or flitz on it and polish away as it is running. The shine should come up pretty fast at this rate.

Otherwise, the best way is with a barrel spinner and a belt grinder then transitioning to a buffer so you don't get crap all over your lathe ways.

04-12-2011, 09:01 PM
What Dennis said will work for what you have done so far.
Jackie I never thought of scotch brite for metal.
I only know of 4 grits how fine does it go to?

Mountain Mike
04-12-2011, 09:13 PM
Find a knife maker's forum. If you have it polished to 2000 grit, a little buffing with white rouge will bring it to a high shine in no time. If you want to do it on the lathe without getting rouge all over, get a thin leather strap and rub the rouge into the rougn side. Should work like a charm. Knife maker forum should have lots of polishing information.

04-12-2011, 09:21 PM
As a knife maker, I am suggesting that he use the paste polishes for what he has at this point. You can't get the SFP that you need on a lathe with a 1" barrel to make white rouge work. You would have to run your lathe at about 3600 rpm to match even an 8" buffing wheel on a 1700 rpm buffer.

I have polished a lot of stuff on a lathe and I have my best results with wet materials. Sometimes I use diamond compound on a piece of oil saturated buckskin. I haven't had the need to polish something as big as a barrel on the lathe but that is how I would do it and I have 10 different types of buffing compounds that I use depending on the material. I use white for bone and antler as well as some plastics. I don't use it on steel- there are specific compounds for steel; especially, stainless steel. I keep a tub of Simichrome on the bench for small polishing jobs. I have a jewelers buffer with a felt wheel for the small stuff too.

04-13-2011, 06:57 AM
I use red and white rouge on my buffing wheel if i feel i need a shiny barrel. Most of the time i dont feel the need. Lee

04-13-2011, 09:29 PM
couple of comments about polishing in the lathe (except that I'd never do it!)

#1, polishing makes HEAT...........lots of it. the barrel WILL stretch, allow for it.
#2, yeahh 1400 is plenty fast ;) friggin' scary if your barrel pressures up from heat and????
#3, abrasive grit over the ways??? (see brackets above!)
#4, need I reiterate, 1400 is FAST for a lathe.... you start wrapping leather straps and sandpaper cloth and such around that barrel you'll get a cheap lesson if all's you lose is a fingernail.

just al whining again about be careful


04-13-2011, 10:51 PM
Al...I use a piece of cardboard to cover the ways (I remove the compound)...I use a sanding block (rubber faced) that holds a pre-cut piece of sandpaper use in automotive finshing...I also use light pressure with some WD-40 to keep it wet and wash off the build-up..
I saw in the YouTube video that S&S Precision chucked their barrels up in a wood lathe and had a loop type (hand held) sander...they used it to sand and polish...looked very impressive...I would like to see how they made the long loop/belt sander...I think it used a 1"x70" belt (best guess)...
I am trying to design/build a high rpm hand held motor that I can attach a 3" diameter hard felt wheel (1-1/2" wide) with a 1/4" shaft...then I can use some black polishing stick to put a mirror finish on the barrel...

Eddie in Texas

04-13-2011, 11:44 PM
Eddie, if I'm forced to do any sort of sanding work on the lathe (as in recently retapering a barrel, screwup...) I cover my ways with a blanket weighed down with steel plates. I'm scared of spinning parts :)

YES, the wood lathe and powered belt is a good way to rough in a barrel.

For the final finish nothing beats a large 2-3hp Baldor longshaft with 10" muslin wheels...... problem is the care and feeding of a stableful of buffing wheels is a job in itself.


04-14-2011, 01:53 PM
+1 for what Al says.
Putting abrasive dust anywhere near the lathe is a no no!
Chad Dixon has a really slick barrel spinner to be used with a belt sander/buffer.


04-15-2011, 01:57 AM
I know some of you won't use toolpost grinder because of the abrasives on the ways issue, but it really isn't that hard to clean up. I use a can of brake parts cleaner and flush everything that was exposed and then re-oil. I don't use a TP grinder often, but it sure is nice for dressing up the jaws on a chuck.

Like I stated before, I have never polished a barrel on a lathe and there is no way on earth I would spin one at 1400 rpm unless it was through the head stock where you can't polish it anyway. I can't see a good way to do it without getting some type of abrasive on stuff but the simichrome is liquid so it don't blow all over- that is why I use it when polishing small parts. You can make brass look like a mirror with that stuff!

04-16-2011, 07:06 PM
Well guys...I have been working on a way to spin one of my 2" diameter felt wheels (has 1/4" shank)...I disassembled a DeWalt 4" grinder, and tapped the threaded shaft on it...I found a dead pneumatic angle head grinder in the shop (I don't throw nuttin' away)...I took the collet head/shaft off the angle head grinder and threaded it to fit into the (female) threaded hole on the DeWalt and "wala" I have a 1/4" collet adapter on the 4" grinder and it takes my (tool/die makers) hard felt wheel...I now have a hand held buffing device that can spin at 10,000 rpm with some black,brown or white stick abrasive applied to a felt wheel...
I can now finish polish the barrel as it spins in the lathe...hope to get a chance to polish a barrel in the near future...

Eddie in Texas

04-18-2011, 04:45 PM

I too avoid polishing or grinding on my lathe, but sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do. So when I gotta do, I wrap my ways and whatever else I don't want grit on with aluminum foil, as commonly found in your wife's kitchen. You can make it form fitting to whatever, and the grit tends to fall right off. Works for me...


04-19-2011, 12:20 AM

I too avoid polishing or grinding on my lathe, but sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do. So when I gotta do, I wrap my ways and whatever else I don't want grit on with aluminum foil, as commonly found in your wife's kitchen. You can make it form fitting to whatever, and the grit tends to fall right off. Works for me...



04-19-2011, 01:47 AM
I like a product made by 3M called Trizact.

Start with a 46A, 30A, 16A, and finally 6A.

Then I hardfelt/rouge till it emulates a chrome bumper.

The trick I found is the Trizact belts. It makes quick work, generates very little heat, and they LAST for a long time.

The Grizzly knife sander works really well for us. I modified it by shortening the mast a bit so it could use a 48" belt instead of the longer 72" ones. 1725RPM on the belt's drive pulley. Could use a little more RPM but it still does a nice job in short order.

$450 for the sander and it keeps the abrasives off of the bedways on your lathe.

Last, I use a barrel spinner that I make in house as I just don't cater to the idea of allowing abrasives anywhere near my lathes. I had a bad experience years ago with the poorly made cast spinner cassettes. Mine are bar stock machined from 6061 and feature sealed bearings, replaceable centers, and are fully contoured to mitigate chewing up your hands.

Hope this helped.