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Putting a random swirl finish on aluminum

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motoguy
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Putting a random swirl finish on aluminum

Postby motoguy » Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:20 pm

I have a roughly 4' x 4' aluminum (1/4") ranch sign I'm finishing up for a customer. The customer really like the swirl pattern she has seen in some of my wall hangings (120 grit flap wheel on mild steel, under Steel F/X patina and clear). This aluminum panel will be bare, just swirled and clear coated.

I'm curious how to get a good "swirl" pattern on this. I tried the 120 grit flap disc on a piece of scrap, and it just looks awful. Dull, flat, looks more like scratches than a swirl finish. Actually looks WORSE than the original finish, IMO. Do I need to use something like a scotchbrite pad to get the effect I want? Something like this, on a grinder backer plate?

http://www.lehighvalleyabrasives.com/coated-abrasives-4-hook-loop-very-fine-surface-conditioning-disc-bibelle-scd102-scd4-vf

Or a "conditioning flap wheel": http://www.lehighvalleyabrasives.com/non-woven-abrasives-4-1-2-x-7-8-surface-conditioning-flap-disc-type-27-flat-very-fine-lva-fd45nw-vf

I'm new to aluminum finish work, so I'm not sure of the best way to go. The clear coat should add some shine, but I'd like to know the best prep option for the metal.
Last edited by motoguy on Mon Feb 20, 2017 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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acourtjester
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Re: Putting an swirl finish on aluminum

Postby acourtjester » Sat Feb 18, 2017 6:05 pm

Not sure if this will help but the process for what is called "engine tune finish" uses a compound and a leather pad. Aluminum is to soft for a flat wheel
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motoguy
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Re: Putting an swirl finish on aluminum

Postby motoguy » Mon Feb 20, 2017 3:11 pm

Thanks. I'm not really looking for an engine turned circular pattern finish, as much as a random "swirl pattern". She really liked the pattern under my patina'd monograms, so that is what I'm trying to duplicate. Similar to this swirl pattern on this piece:

IMG_2775_1487605810275.jpg
imagejpeg_1_1487605810778.jpg


Or like the pattern under this ribbon image I found:

Image

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acourtjester
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Re: Putting a random swirl finish on aluminum

Postby acourtjester » Mon Feb 20, 2017 8:03 pm

yes that is quite a different swirl pattern from engine turned, almost looks like a fish scale pattern in some places. But more like a random swirl, no pattern, good luck on that one.
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Re: Putting a random swirl finish on aluminum

Postby Largemouthlou » Mon Feb 20, 2017 8:10 pm

Try an 80 grit flap disk..
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motoguy
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Re: Putting a random swirl finish on aluminum

Postby motoguy » Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:22 pm

Largemouthlou wrote:Try an 80 grit flap disk..


I tried a 120, and IMO it looks horrible.
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Re: Putting a random swirl finish on aluminum

Postby Largemouthlou » Tue Feb 21, 2017 5:29 am

Sending you a message
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Re: Putting a random swirl finish on aluminum

Postby sphurley » Tue Feb 21, 2017 9:59 pm

Steve
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Re: Putting a random swirl finish on aluminum

Postby chevybythesea » Tue Feb 21, 2017 11:41 pm

+1 on the flap disc with scotch pad. I use the "medium" grit, shown here: http://www.cgwcamel.com/catalogue/product/3558

I know it says it is for stainless, but works great for aluminum. Also has a "very fine" grit, closer to about 320 grit nominal.
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kkroger
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Re: Putting a random swirl finish on aluminum

Postby kkroger » Wed Feb 22, 2017 10:10 pm

We do it with a 36 Grit Disk on a 4.5" Grinder....


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