Polishing steel - how are you?

In addition to the well-known polishing processes in the household, such as the use of polishing wheels or pulleys, there are also some technical methods to polish steel. What these are and how they work is explained in this article.

Polish steel yourself

In the household, such as knife blades or other steel parts (or stainless steel parts) polishing is easy with a polishing pad, a cloth and some polishing paste. It works like this:

Polishing steel - step by step

  • steel surface
  • polishing paste
  • Grinding disc (felt disc) best as an attachment for the drill
  • Polishing disc (cloth disc) also as an attachment for the drill

1. grinding

Carefully place the grinding wheel on the surface and grind thoroughly. After some time, change the grinding direction and work at right angles to the previous grinding direction.

2. Check the sanding result

See if you are satisfied with the grinding result in all places. If so, you can polish. If not, grind a little further.

3. polishing process

Polishing is always transverse to the grinding direction (ie at a 45° angle). Apply some polishing paste and start polishing very slowly and at low speed until you get the result.

4. Protection treatment

In some cases, a seal may be necessary. There are different methods for this. Select the appropriate method.

Technical polishing process

In the technical and industrial sectors, steel is polished in a completely different way than by hand. The following are used:

  • the so-called lapping
  • the so-called honing or
  • electrolytic processes


The lapping is similar to the grinding, but it is a so-called lapping means with freely moving grain used (while, for example, in an abrasive paper, the grain is fixed). The lapping agent (often called lapping oil) is added to the surface together with water. The application then takes place on a lapping plate. This results in a very small and very uniform material removal, so it is a machining process.


This method is used, for example, for cylinders in engine construction. When honing flat surfaces, so-called honing discs and carriers move over the surface and remove very small amounts of material over the entire surface. The abrasive grains used (contained in the grinding slurry) are often made of synthetic diamond or boron nitride. In between is rinsed with so-called honing oil.

Electrolytic processes

In electrolytic polishing (also called electropolishing) voltages are applied to the workpiece located in a solution, often called pulsed currents. Because of the electrolytic effect, the peaks of roughness on the material are removed very quickly.

A similar process, but using a slightly different physical mechanism for ablation, is the so-called plasma polishing performed in saline solutions.

Tips & Tricks

The electropolishing processes all surface parts evenly, so that it can also be used without much effort for very fine deburring of metal parts.

Video Board: Polishing Steel to a Mirror Finish & Brushed Metal Finish! [email protected]