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Old 31st May 2006, 21:37   #1
The_Gnu
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How to brush Aluminum

How to brush Aluminum

To get that nice and clean brushed look on your projects can be really hard if you try to brush it on free hand with a sandpaper. Most likely, you will end up with brushing lines that bend and cross eachother and the brushing will look a little bit ghetto. When I was starting the build of my Projector I wanted the whole case to be made out of brushed aluminum. But since "ghetto brushing" wasn't any option for me i came up with a verry quick and easy way to get a more proffesional brushing look.

First you need a piece of ALU plate. This one is attached to my workbench with normal masking tape that I taped "upside down" around the workbench. I dont have a picture of this tape but you simple hold the tape with the non-sticky side against the bench and wound it around hard 3-4 times until it is tight enough around the bensh so that it won't move...Like making a cirkle out of tape with the stickyside fasing out. The sticky side will be facing up and when you have made atleast 2 of this loops you can simply press the Alu Plate on the bench and it will be stuck...easy to remove too. This way you don't have any messy double sided tape to clean away from the bench and the plate. Before you start the sanding ...remove as much fingerprints and dirt as possible, I used nail-polish remover but most strong cleaning fluids will probably do.

(click to zoom)

The Sandpaper will stay in a straight line thanks to that support pice of wood that runs long the side of the alu plate. Between the Sandpaper and the sanding "block", there is some soft blue padding to get a soft sandingsurface to awoid some parts of the aluplate to get sanded too much. I used 100,180, 240 grit paper for this sanding, try different paper to get the brushing you like. Move the "brusher" in one direction at a time...(top-bottom-top-bottom | not:top-bottom-bottom-top) You start at the top and pull it against you. Make shure you start the sanding a little bit before the plate you are brushing and keep a steady motion and dont stop until you have passed the bottom edge of the plate. If you stop or start in the middle of the plate you can get small marks.

(click to zoom)

Almost ... but not yet.

(click to zoom)

Voila!!! Done...thats the look i want. But dont touch it yet greasy fingers will make it uggly. I Used a spray can clear coat designed for alu rims, 2-4 layers, to make it greasy resistant and to give it that extra shine Anodizing is also an option but I don't have that possibility.......yet

(click to zoom)

To avoid the darker lines (that you can se on this picture) and get a more even brushing, you need to switch place of the sandpaper. Turn it around or move it a little bit to awoid it from sanding on the same spot everytime.

(click to zoom)

The brushing often creates an "edge" around the plate your brushing, You can se this as a brighter edge around the whole plate on the pic below. The best would be to cut the plate to the exakt size AFTER the brushing so that you get rid of those edges.

(click to zoom)

Here is some of my brushing work created on my current project. A widescreen video projector.


(click to zoom)


(click to zoom)


(click to zoom)


(click to zoom)

Good luck with your brushing.

/GNU
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Guide: How to brush Aluminum

Last edited by The_Gnu; 31st May 2006 at 21:43.
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Old 31st May 2006, 22:30   #2
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Nice one. It looks like the type of quality you see on those wavemaster cases
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Old 31st May 2006, 22:41   #3
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yea very nice guide and cant wait to see that project finished
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Old 1st Jun 2006, 17:02   #4
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I have a brushed wavemaster now i maybe dare to cut holes in it(now i know how to fix it )
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Old 2nd Jun 2006, 04:31   #5
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Nice job, this may be just what one of my old PCs needs...
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Old 2nd Jun 2006, 12:55   #6
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Verry usefull guide!! Looks really good. I also saw a way to brush the alu with a sanding attachment on a drill bud this would be really hard to keep the lines straight!
You way works around this! Good way
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Old 2nd Jun 2006, 16:08   #7
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i have a little something to add tbh... if you're brushing alu or stainless steel to get that one line effect get a cork block, some scouring pads and a bit of elbow grease... gives the same effect without the need to change sanding paper every so often... the lighter you push the finer the lines... ive been polishing stainless nonstop for ½ a year.. and we used 3m scouring pads to do most of it... ill see if i can find some more details regarding what we used also.. and post them...
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Old 4th Jun 2006, 11:20   #8
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Just one question, how long does it take to achieve that brushed look?
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Old 4th Jun 2006, 12:39   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bAdI

Just one question, how long does it take to achieve that brushed look?
actually it didn't take to long. I guess around 20-30min for that large front piece depending on how many different gritpapers you decide to use. It could probably be made much quicker too but I want it perfect so i never hurry.

/GNU
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Old 4th Jun 2006, 23:03   #10
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Hey thats really good, nice work! Cool finish and easy to do, win win I say
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Old 5th Jun 2006, 15:55   #11
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Great guide, and easy to follow, Welldone Gnu.
Great mod too
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Old 7th Jun 2006, 11:02   #12
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wow ill be giving this a try
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Old 11th Jun 2006, 13:07   #13
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Very good

Im still confused how you manage to tie down the sandpaper and manage to slide it up and down across the alu. I understand the alu is taped down, but how do you slide the sandpaper and what do you use for it to stay straight all the time?

c_d
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Old 11th Jun 2006, 13:30   #14
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Great tutorial, always wanted to give brushing aluminum a try... nice sized pictures and they are in focus and you've described them well... nice one
The idea of using the sandpaper as stationary and moving the metal in a straight line, great idea and you dont need to spend loadsd on an electric method....
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Old 12th Jun 2006, 00:23   #15
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Thanks for all your comments...love to read new posts even for a kind of smal thing like this guide.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cool_dude
Very good

Im still confused how you manage to tie down the sandpaper and manage to slide it up and down across the alu. I understand the alu is taped down, but how do you slide the sandpaper and what do you use for it to stay straight all the time?

c_d
okay.. the sandpapers are clamped between the two small pieces of wood using that thing with a red handle, (dont know what its called). A pair of screws or nails could be used instead. That will make the whole sanding block a little bit easyer to move but it will get much harder to switch sandpaper if you choose to attach the papers between the two pieces of wood like I did.
Think of it as a normal sanding block that you add another piece of wood to act as a support. By pushing this support wood to the edge of the workbench while moving the block back and forth it will stay in a total straight line.


(click to zoom)


Quote:
Originally Posted by olly_lewis

Great tutorial, always wanted to give brushing aluminum a try... nice sized pictures and they are in focus and you've described them well... nice one
The idea of using the sandpaper as stationary and moving the metal in a straight line, great idea and you dont need to spend loadsd on an electric method....

c_d

Thx... but think you got it wrong alittlebit. It's not the aluminum that is moving back and forthit is the sandingblock. It is just a normal sandingblock with a support piece of wood. That Red clamp in the pic above is to hold the sandingblock and the support wood together. It might look as it is attached to the workbench but it is not..
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Old 18th Jun 2006, 03:21   #16
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awesome guide! great help!
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Old 22nd Jun 2006, 13:16   #17
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How did you go about doing the curve on the top of your case?

I was thinking that you could use a sponge or foamy type block to attach the sandpaper to if you had irregular curved shapes, as opposed to just a flat piece of aluminium, does this sound plausible?
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Old 23rd Jun 2006, 02:37   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Denied
How did you go about doing the curve on the top of your case?

I was thinking that you could use a sponge or foamy type block to attach the sandpaper to if you had irregular curved shapes, as opposed to just a flat piece of aluminium, does this sound plausible?
I think he brushed flat aluminium then bent it into shape.
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Old 23rd Jun 2006, 02:46   #19
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*embarrased* ... why didn't I think of that. Yep that makes perfect sense.
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Old 24th Jun 2006, 17:29   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Constructacon
I think he brushed flat aluminium then bent it into shape.
Yes, that was exactly how I did it.
Denied.. You can see how it was bent in the P-log

/GNU
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