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How to Polish Stainless Steel

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  • How to Polish Stainless Steel

    I know this isn't really a welding project but I figured this area is as close as it gets. The other day at an auction I bought an old Surge stainless steel milk bucket. This is not a milk can, this is the container that dairy farmers hand carry to the cow, plug it into the pipe line, then hook it up to the cow. I do not know what type of stainless it is, but there is a lot of abrasion and minor scratches on it that I would like to get rid of. I did a search on this forum but was unable to find a polishing method. If there is a method what would I need as far as tools and polishing supplies? Also if this is something that requires taking it somewhere to have it done, what type of place would you reccommend? I bought it for my mother who collects farm items to display in and outside of her house. Many people use these milk (buckets?) as flower planters after drilling holes in the bottom for drainage, and I am not sure if this type of stainless steel resists rust after years of having dirt and moisture in them........thanks

  • #2
    Nylon brush & valve grinding compound is what is used to hide the welds on food service equipment. When properly done it's impossible to find the weld.


    • #3
      This is only personal preference, but when I find old things that I'd like to keep, part of what I like about it is that it IS beat up. Showing its age and use by people long forgotten. It's pretty intriging (sp?) to me.

      Just a thought.


      • #4
        Aaron, I picked up a few tricks from a fellow who fabs resturant equipment along the way.
        They grind the seam welds down, then use a straightline body sander, and get pretty close with that. The final step is a nylon brush mounted on an air grinder (giant die grinder) with corse and then fine valve grinding compound. Even with my magnifiers on I can't find the weld from the front side.

        Of course I did enjoy the time some of his low paid indigenous neighborhood help used files to deburr sheared sheets and nobody found out till a month after the kitchen was delivered. No way in **** to hide RUST.


        • #5
          I have two of these buckets and why do you need to polish them? they are solid stainless, formed out of one piece. i use mine to keep hot water going at our deer camp. I also use them to transport maple syrup (hot), while in the finishing process. they'll never die and my descendents will be stuck with what the heck to do with them. they are quite a clever design that is nearly spill-proof, even whan filled to their 6 gallon capacity. probably have some antique value too.


          • #6
            Well guys,

            Now that you have advised me how to polish stainless steel, I have decided not to do it because of posts from Thomas Harris and MikeR. I was thinking my mother would have liked it all shiney looking, but then what would the antique value be after being polished and holes drilled in the bottom. Sorry I troubled all of you who took the time to explain various polishing methods. Hopefully someday I will be able to put this good advice to use...........thanks again.


            • #7
              Cleaning SS

              Hey I enjoyed Franz and Aaron's replys and can use the info as I just got a heavy duty SS commercial kitchen sink given to me. It's kind of dirty looking but I'm going to put it in the garage as a garden sink for #1 and I'll clean it up so she can mess it up .David


              • #8
                I stopped doing it.

                As far as puting the shine on stainless, just walk it down using finer and finer sandpaper (rough stock, i.e, has not been polished before) if previously polished, begin with very fine #600 or finer. When you have the surface uniform (fine swirl) you are set to polish. I use a jitterbug for all steps. Sure, a pedestal wheel works good but edge on brackets will launch your stuff into the wall or worse. My perfered method is jitterbug, clean red shop rags, can of mothers. You can "harley" shine rough stock very quickly.

                That being said, I stopped restoring my "stuff" because although I would like all my shop decor to look restored, it will make them worthless. Cash registers, Coke a Cola trays, tin store signs, tack, scales, nail kegs, whiskey kegs, model A parts, b17 parts, etc. Just say no. I think she will like them best as is.