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Old 03-18-2012, 09:25 PM   #1
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Steel wool for metal polishing...when to use and when not to use?

I recently read that a lot of people use 0000 steel wool with their metal polish to polish metal and tailpipes. I never really got the results I wanted from a rag with polish so I figured I'd give it a try.

I went to lowes and picked up a package of 0000 steel wool, cleaned up my GTR and proceeded to polish. I polished the tips until the residue turned blackish (optimum metal polish) and buffed with a microfiber. What I found after was interesting.

The tips were definitely brightened up but I feel like using the steel wool it removed some of the shine (under the initial filth) that was on the tips and left me with more of a raw metal look. It was clean as a whistle but it also appeared to have left a bizillion micro scratches on it as well.

The tips aren't ruined and frankly have never looked cleaner...but I'm wondering if using the steel wool on them was a mistake.

So...are there any general guidelines to when to and when not to use steel wool for metal polishing?

Thanks much.
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Old 03-18-2012, 09:42 PM   #2
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Re: Steel wool for metal polishing...when to use and when not to use?

maybe try 3000 grit sandpaper and clean it up with more metal polish and a dremel? It's not chrome plated is it?
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Old 03-19-2012, 12:11 AM   #3
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Re: Steel wool for metal polishing...when to use and when not to use?

One thing I like to use is bronze wool its softer than the 0000 steel wool I use it on my chrome on my motorcycle and works real nice u can get it at ace hardware

Last edited by soto; 03-19-2012 at 12:12 AM. Reason: Miss spelled
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Old 03-19-2012, 12:29 AM   #4
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Re: Steel wool for metal polishing...when to use and when not to use?

I only use steel wool on stainless steel tips that are trashed.

I didn't know you had a GTR!!!!!!!
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Old 03-19-2012, 08:14 AM   #5
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Re: Steel wool for metal polishing...when to use and when not to use?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 07 z-oh-6 View Post
I only use steel wool on stainless steel tips that are trashed.

I didn't know you had a GTR!!!!!!!

Yes Sir

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Old 03-19-2012, 08:32 AM   #6
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Re: Steel wool for metal polishing...when to use and when not to use?

Steel wool particles left behind will eventually rust, so be prepared for that.

The steel will scratch the stainless, leaving a matte type of finish. The microscratch pattern of steel wool isn't very consistent, so you'll notice the lack of shine, as you did.
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Old 03-19-2012, 08:36 AM   #7
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Re: Steel wool for metal polishing...when to use and when not to use?

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Originally Posted by forrest@mothers View Post
Steel wool particles left behind will eventually rust, so be prepared for that.

The steel will scratch the stainless, leaving a matte type of finish. The microscratch pattern of steel wool isn't very consistent, so you'll notice the lack of shine, as you did.

I feel like there should be more to this message.....


AND..........
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Old 03-19-2012, 10:19 AM   #8
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Re: Steel wool for metal polishing...when to use and when not to use?

Well, I guess I can write more words:

The steel wool will leave little fibers in the scratch pattern's jagged edges. These little fibers will rust, meaning the exhaust tips will show rust marks. It's not the exhaust tips themselves, but the fibers leftover from steel wool.

Even though the steel wool used was 0000, it's coarse by comparison to the smooth finish that the exhaust tips had. That's why the tips now have a brushed/raw look to them. They can be polished back up to a higher shine, but since stainless is hard, the process will require more effort than aluminum would.

If you do want to return a high shine to them, stainless is one area where speed will be your friend if you use a mechanical aid - polish and a higher speed on a drill with an attachment will help reduce the effort and time involved.
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Old 03-19-2012, 08:32 PM   #9
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Re: Steel wool for metal polishing...when to use and when not to use?

I've polished a lot of metal and have never used steel wool as part of the polishing process. The scratches in your tips are no different from scratches and swirls in paint just a harder surface but the correction steps are the same. You’re going to need to sand the scratches out with wet sanding paper to make them more uniform, there is no other way. Obviously start with the finest grit you can to do the correction. When polishing metal I don’t use water with the wet dry paper I use WD40. There is no need to soak it first and yes it’s messy but the paper will last a lot longer. Simply start off with a grit that is going to level out the scratches that you currently have and work up to a finer grit. An easy way to tell when to move to the next grade is to sand in opposite directions with each grade. Once you can only see scratches going in the direction you are sanding then move to the next finer grit. Depending on whether you are going to finish off by hand or machine will determine how fine you need to go, if finishing off by hand then I would go up to 2500 or maybe even 3000. Obviously the finer you go the easier it will be to polish in the end. By using this process you can have stainless looking like a mirror.

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Old 03-19-2012, 08:37 PM   #10
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Re: Steel wool for metal polishing...when to use and when not to use?

No disrespect rzatch, but what grit sandpaper would you reccomend for 0000 scratch removal?
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