How to get scratches out of copper and polish it

I have some copper flashlights I made. What is the easiest and quickest way to remove scratches and polish the copper? Hand sanding isn’t gonna cut it. Ignore the pink one, I blasted it with 120 grit to see what it would do.

I always use my Dremel with polishing bits on top and a polishing paste.

Use an 8” buffing wheel on a bench grinder dressed with buffing compound.

Look up references on jewelery sites for polishing info —- “easiest and quickest” isn’t an option.

Short summary: you have to use a series of grinding/polishing materials, start with one coarse enough to remove the worst scratches, do that.

Then carefully remove that and apply the next finder material and lather rinse repeat.
Use each grade of polish until it has eliminated all the unevenness at its scale.

Shorter: when skip a step, you’re “polishing the scratches”

I don’t know what to tell ya, it ain’t easy.

I have a saying, “A true Professional will make a tough job look easy”

I thought I knew what I was doing when I started this, but I’m having a real tough time.

Normally, to polish scratches etc. out of something you would use successively finer and finer grades of sandpaper to remove the deeper scratches, then move on to ever finer grades of polish. Finish up with a buffing wheel.
In my case, being outside and working on 75 year old copper that has a deep layer of oxidation and pitting I have a lot of work ahead of me.
I happen to be working on this right now.

Not sandpaper, I think — rather get the series of buffing compounds and buffing wheels.

You know that “rouge” is very fine red buffing compound, right? It’s not just a cosmetic, it’s a polish.

You have to be super careful when changing grades. One little chunk of the abrasive from the old larger size will continue to cut gouges that size, riding along in the smaller size grit.

Copper is more prone to roughness because it has no lead in it to smear out and lubricate whatever’s being used on the surface — so you have to be really careful not to carve bits out of the surface.

Do you know someone with a lathe? Spin them up and use some wet and dry with lots of lube would work. Nice builds by the way. These are worthy of there own thread.

They look way cool to me!! 8) How about some more pics and info on these beauties? :stuck_out_tongue:

I would first try to chemically clean the roof of your window. I used commercial cleaners like Tarn-x to remove the patina. I have also used a white vinegar and salt solution. Vinegar and salt works well on any kind of oxidation and can be used to force a patina, also.

I never bothered trying to remove pitting on outside copper trim on my house. I would just clean it and coat it with a clear coat or even linseed oil.

Info can be found in my slayinator contest build thread here or click on my website in my signature and then click on slayinator build.

I use the finest grade of sandpaper. Preferably a piece that has been used before (on non-staining material like wood). And for the finishing touch use ketchup!

Cut the head from a long carriage bolt so the smooth end can go in a drill chuck, washer, lock washer, and nut at each end and shim in between to minimize wobble(I use a masking tape wrap to stay concentric) and spin it up. Buffing compound will make it shiny but sanding first will remove the dents and scratches.

Shiny copper doesn’t radiate heat away very well.
Copper oxide, by comparison, radiates heat effectively.
(So do most kinds of anodizing)


Emissivity of Copper (higher is better, 1.0 is maximum)
Polished: 0.023
Thick Oxide Layer: 0.78

So keep it gripped firmly in your cool hand (conduction) and wave it around (convection), if you keep it shiny.

Here’s a jewelry page recommending a clear coating for preventing copper and other metals from oxidizing.
No clue how it affects heat radiation, tho’