How to polish Aluminum “THE RIGHT WAY” – DC Super Shine


I’m a polisher not a writer!

I’ve been in the detailing industry for over 20 years now, and one of the top questions I get asked is how can I get my aluminum tanks to shine like yours…

A few of my videos on youtube give a general idea of how to get a good mirror finish. But still lack all the little things that should be done to achieve such a shine. In this article I will try and cover all the basis. Before I begin please remember there are 10, 20, 100 ways to do all things… after trying many many different ideas and other methods this is how I do it!

#1 Prepping the surface

Make sure the surface is free of dirt, if there’s oil or grease use some varsol/paint thinner to remove it. Tar or road paint can be easily removed with a metal scrapper or flat screwdriver.

Unpolished tank, cleaned and ready to be sanded

Unpolished tank, cleaned and ready to be sanded

Badly pitted fuel tank ready to be sanded

Badly pitted fuel tank ready to be sanded

#2 Sanding

This step In my opinion is the secret, the most important of all the steps.

The Depthness of the shine you will have will be in direct proportion to the sanding you do. So with that said… depending on how far, how much work and time you want to spend on sanding will determine how close to a perfect mirror your surface will become.

Choosing the grits: 95% of my jobs are done with 320 followed by 400 and finishing with 600. Some jobs will require a bit more work and time, Older and much more pitted surfaces will need to be sanded with 180 grit first, I never go lower then 180 on aluminum it will just create more unwanted work and loss of time to get all the marks done by the harsher grit. So 180, followed by 320, 400 and finished with 600 grit ready for the polishing step. On occasion when a tank is in very good shape I will use 800 or 1500 grit to finish.

tank sanded with 320, 400 and 600 grit

tank sanded with 320, 400 and 600 grit

Fuel tank sanded with 180, 320, 400 and 600 grit

Fuel tank sanded with 180, 320, 400 and 600 grit

After posting my how to videos on you tube I had no idea I’d get the response I did… with that followed an enormous amount of questions especially what tools and products do I use… there are a LOT of products out there and I’ve tried many! To be honest most of them don’t work very well. after many years of trial and error and trying pretty much everything on the market... I put together a kit of all the stuff I use on a daily basis to run my company, no bullshit no sales pitch I use this stuff so I know they work! 

Get Your Kit Now!

So on to polishing… explaining this is very hard, it’s like reading about how to drive… you can’t really know until you do it yourself. The best tips I can give are first always polish in the direction of the grain of the aluminum. Second always start from the bottom and work your way up chasing that black product residue line, going side to side in a slow and even motion. I use 15 amp 6000 rpm Dewalt grinders they weight a little over 13 pounds so there’s no need for a lot of pressure, I’d say 5-10 lbs of pressure using less and less as you get to the top of the tank. Once the machine work is done. you want to use a liquid metal polish I use pro-40 and white diamond those are the 2 that I’ve found give the best finish and shine. always use cotton flannel sheets on tanks and flat surfaces any other surface plain cotton rags will work. again always work in the direction of the grain with an up and down motion, a good amount of pressure using a flat hand removing some of the fine scratches and marks left by the polishing process. If you drop your rag on the floor toss it and use a new one dirt is your biggest enemy when doing the final finish.

Tank completely finished

Tank completely finished

fuel tank polished before final step application

fuel tank polished before final step application

 

I hope this as helped some of you and I’m always available for questions on youtube or my Facebook page

Denis Champagne – Master Detailer

Owner at DC Super Shine

 

 

 

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3 comments


  • Johnny

    I’m not sure which kit to purchase. I am very interested in using your product. I have tried alot of different processes and of course looking for an easier way. I have the angle grinders and sanders. I do believe that sanding is the key to a brilliant shine. Which kit would you suggest. Thank you


  • Denis

    Hey! Joe,
    Sorry for the delay in replying. I’ve used both. I prefer a random orbit especially for paint correction it leaves no swirls. hope this helps
    Denis – DC Super Shine Owner


  • Joe

    Random Orbital verse Orbital polisher, what are the pros and cons and which do you prefer?


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