We're starting to get more and more inquiries into the effectiveness of these three new metal polishes - Heavy Cut, Medium Cut and Finishing Metal Polish - so we thought we would put together a little demo panel for you.
What we started with was a flat panel of bare, high polished aluminum. We then compromised the appearance in two different ways - by acid dipping a section to simulate what happens when a strong acid based wheel cleaner is sprayed onto bare aluminum wheels, and by DA sanding with 1500 grit and then 3000 grit Unigrit Finishing Discs to totally eliminate all gloss from the surface.
We then tried each of the three metal polishes to get a feel for the cutting or defect removing abilities of each, as well as the quality of finish offered by each. At the end of it all the test panel looks like the image below. The center strip is the "control" section of virgin, high polished aluminum, and it's how the entire panel started out. The upper third was acid dipped, and on the far right side of that strip is the result of polishing with just the Finishing Metal Polish. The bottom section is the 1500/3000 grit sanded area, with the two test spots being Heavy Cut Metal Polish on the left, and Medium Cut Metal Polish in the center of the section.
In all cases polishing was done by hand with a fresh foam wax applicator and residue wiped with a microfiber towel. No terry cloth applicators, no machine work - just hand application with a typical yellow foam wax applicator pad. Here's a close up of the "control" section, through the center of the panel. The little bit of cloudiness you see along the top edge is from the acid dip migrating under the masking tape. We didn't bother cleaning that up, and if you look in the image above you can see it clearly across the line of demarcation between the "control" strip and the acid bath strip. But this "control" section is a nice, clear, mirror image polished aluminum.
As the first image shows, the lower strip on the panel was DA sanded with 1500 and 3000 grit media, rendering the reflections non existent. Here's a close up of the lower right hand corner after sanding.
In the center of the sanded strip is this, a close up of the area hand polished with just the Medium Cut Polish. While far from perfect, it is a dramatic improvement. Still, this tells us that if you do have to sand your polished aluminum piece then Medium Cut Polish is probably not the best choice to remove the sanding marks by hand. Similarly, if your metal surface is extremely oxidized, again, Medium Cut may not be sufficient to clean everything up.
This is a close up of the far left side of the sanded strip, this time done only with Heavy Cut Polish, but still by hand. This shows a huge improvement in clarity and gloss, and a follow up with the Finishing Polish should bring back the full gloss and lustre of this polished aluminum. Why do we suggest going straight from this Heavy Cut result to the Finishing Polish rather than doing an intermediate step with the Medium Cut Polish? See the following images for the answer.
Here's a close up of the acid stained upper strip of the test panel. While the reflections are still sharp, the finish is very cloudy and flat. Again, if you mistakenly spray a strong acid based chrome wheel cleaner onto your high polished aluminum wheels, this is the sort of problem you can expect to deal with. Granted, the staining may not be this uniform, but the overall severity will be quite similar.
Finally, this is a close up of the upper right corner of the test panel, showing the results of hand polishing the acid stained area with just Finishing Polish and a yellow foam applicator pad. With very little effort we're right back to the sharp reflections and high level of clarity shown in the "control" section. One step, by hand.
When you compare the above acid stained image to the Heavy Cut Polish test area on the sanded panel, and then look at what Finishing Polish could do to a very similar level of degradation, we're confident that in that in the case of the sanded section a simple two step of Heavy Cut and Finishing Polish would be a fantastic two step process to restore this panel.
So, what about the effectiveness of the Medium Cut Polish? Is this demo a fail for that product. No, not at all. In this demo we're only light damage and very extreme damage. There are plenty of situations that would fall in between these two extremes, and that's where the Medium Cut Polish would come into play. Would you need to follow Medium Cut with Finishing? Well, as so often happens, the real answer is "it depends". How did the surface respond to the polishing? What are your goals?
These metal polishes are safe on all bare metal surfaces, but we do not recommend the Heavy Cut Polish for use on chrome due to the aggressive nature of the abrasives. And in many cases you may not even need an aggressive applicator, such as terry cloth or even microfiber, either of which might even mar a very delicate, extremely highly polished surface.
But whether you're dealing with heavy oxidation, deeper scratches that might require light sanding to remove, light chemical staining, or just a slightly weathered finish, we've got a metal polish to bring back the luster, clarity and gloss you used to have.