Video: Introduction to Metal Preparation – Polishing

by | Apr 23, 2020 | Firearm Restoration, Gun Restoration, Gunsmithing | 1 comment

Introduction to Metal Preparation (5 of 7) outlines the steps needed to do a quality metal preparation job on your own gun. Not just the actual steps in polishing, but the first steps you need to know in order to do a quality job. The video also shows the various finishes used by the manufacturers on their original parts, giving you a complete set of guidelines to follow so you can do a professional job yourself and save money. Most importantly, it will give you the satisfaction of doing a quality job, yourself.

For convenience we’ve divided the original videotape into the following sections, which you can navigate to using the following links:

Episode Notes:

Finish Removal

You will need:

  • Dust mask
  • Felt jaws for vice
  • 120 grit paper
  • Wood
  • Bluing remover
  • Blocks and dowels
  • Files

Before you begin:

  • Determine the direction of the factory finish.
  • Rotate the firearm under a good light until you see very fine polish lines. This is the factory polish direction and this is the direction of your final polish.
  • Use bluing remover or 120 grit to remove old finish.
  • You may sand in any direction as you work your way up through the grits, but the final polish must go in the factory direction.

There are three types of barrels: double, octagon and round. How you polish depends on what style of barrel you have.

Double barrel:

  • Sand or file along the length of the barrel, turning the sandpaper slightly along the stroke.
  • Use sandpaper wrapped around a wooden dowel for concave surfaces.

Octagon barrel:

  • Back sandpaper with a wood block, sand length of the flat angling stroke slightly.
  • Keep block flat to prevent rounding the edges.

Round barrel:

  • Use sandpaper in shoeshine style, moving the paper continually to prevent dips or hollows.

Once all the old finish is removed, pits, dings and deep scratches will become evident. These can be removed by sanding the areas with 80 grit paper, or with a file if damage is too severe. File only if you have to!

  • Filing removes more metal than sanding. This can weaken barrel walls and make them unsafe to fire.
  • It is always best to try to sand imperfections out rather than file.
  • Always file or sand in a sweeping motion along the length of the barrel.
  • Clean your file often! Metal burrs caught in the file can scratch the surface of the piece you are working on.
  • Clean your file with a file card every few strokes.
  • Change your abrasive cloth often to keep from working against yourself.
  • Change the direction of the polish each time you change to a finer grit. This will enable you to see when all previous grit lines are gone.
  • When filing or sanding flats, keep your file or block square to get sharp edges.
  • Use cloth in a “shoeshine” style to polish round barrels.
  • Dowels wrapped with abrasive cloth are excellent for polishing concave surfaces.
  • Work your way up through all grits in sequence. Do not skip grits.
  • Remember, only the final polish needs to go in the factory direction.

Initial Polishing

  • 120 grit through 240 grit.

Final Polishing

  • 320 grit through 400/600 grit.
  • Simichrome Polish 0000 steel wool.
  • Wire brushing wheel (.0025″)
  • The degree to which you polish will influence the sheen of the part after the finish is applied.
  • Some parts such as barrels don’t need to be polished as high as actions.
  • All grits mentioned are suggested starting points. What grit you begin with will depend on how bad your firearm is.
  • Remember: only the final polish needs to go in the factory direction.
  • Look at original examples in good condition to see polish direction, final grades and consistency of finish.

Thanks for watching! Feel free to use the comments below for thoughts and questions.

1 Comment

  1. Todd H Shepherd

    Thanks for the video and showing some tips. Hope all is well with the Turnbull family and staff.


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