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Have been polishing some gun barrel and receivers (by hand) for preparation for re-bluing using wet/dry sandpaper.

Usually start with 220 grit (but occasionally start with 150), then go to 400 then to 600.

Does pretty good job but even at 600 grit can still see VERY FINE circular lines around length of barrel or other gun parts.

Have not tried anything beyond 600 grit because it can not be had locally.

Is there some method or polishing media that would allow for final polished barrel to have a mirror like finish, i.e. no fine circular lines around the barrel ?

Thanks.
 

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This might help ya get started. http://www.caswellplating.com/buffman.htm
It's a rough overview but will get ya started.

Basically, you'll be wanting to move beyond wet-or-dry or emery cloth and start using a buffer. You'll need several wheels & compounds and the types will depend on the material you're working with.

I have finished carbon steel (gun parts and knife blades) with up to 2500-grit wetordry but there will always be swirl marks from the abrasive grit.
Most auto parts stores will have wet-or-dry finer than 600. Ask for the 3M Imperial Wetordry line...it's about the best fine-grit paper that I've used. You can get 1000, 1500, and 2500.
To get a true polish on it though you will need to hit it with some buffing compound to blend those scratches & swirl marks and "color" the metal.

I have an assortment of sewn and loose cotton and flannel buffs.
Just like sandpaper, the coarser the cloth, the coarser the cut...and the same applies to the compound that you use on em.
For carbon steel, I usually use White cutting compound on a sewn cotton wheel to smooth and red jewelers rouge on a sewn/pleated or loose flannel wheel to polish(color).
Stainless, you can finish polish with blue or green. Red just throws the final color off for me...at least on 308/316 stainless.


I better add that for your first few jobs, get some old beater parts that you don't care about mangling.
I'm sure you've seen some posts/pics here or elsewhere about overbuffed guns where they've got a nice polish but all the markings are obliterated and every hard edge is rounded off. It's not hard to kill an edge and once it's gone it's darn near impossible to fix the boo-boo!
 

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You could go to 800 then 1000 but its a ton of work and you would still have some marks. You really need a low speed buffer to get the correct "color" you want. Fromax makes some good compounds for this. What I do is start with a 600 grit buff on my 10 inch high speed and cut the lines in the same direction. (600 grit buff is way less aggressive than 600 oxide sandpaper) then go to a low speed 600 in a diagonal to the lines i just buffed in. then I go to a low speed flannel wheel buff using a white rouge. this brings it to a high luster and exposes the fine lines that i missed with the 600. Any lines I hit again low speed 600 then go back to white rough. For bluing this eliminates any scratch or grain patterns like smith and colts. For higher luster like weatherby I use a blue rough on loose muslin wheels. This looks like a mirror but is also harder to blue properly.
 

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For higher luster like weatherby I use a blue rough on loose muslin wheels. This looks like a mirror but is also harder to blue properly.
Hmmm....I've never tried blue on carbon steel. I've always used red.
Does the blue polish brighter than with red?
Will have give it a try.
 

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FWIW, an opinion on "mirror finish", with the understanding that in some areas there is no arguing with taste.

Long thought to be the ideal, the traditional "mirror finish" on firearms, with no marks and nothing but a perfect surface looks, IMHO, like heck. Not only is it too good to be real, it will look nothing like any factory finish, even from a semi-custom shop. Worse, it is almost impossible to achieve without rounding corners, blurring markings, dishing screw holes, and creating waves in flat areas.

The worst looking bluing jobs, in my view, were those where the polisher tried to create that "perfect" mirror finish to "restore" collector's items that had had a normal factory finish. On older guns it is a travesty, sort of a "bikini on your greatgrandmother" effect that looks like heck, does not come close to the original finish, and fools no one.

Part of this comment was inspired by seeing a Model 1892 Winchester that had been (IMHO) totally ruined by a "restorer" who gave the old gun a high polish and tank reblue, assuring the customer that it looked exactly like an original (he had evidently never seen an original) and was now worth thousands. It was probably worth $300; before the "restoration" it would probably have brought $1500 or so.

Jim
 

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Very few guns come from the factory with a mirror finish.Just look at new guns and you will see polish lines.
I do all my steel(and wood) by hand I use Gator wet/dry paper.
Depending on the gun and what the costumer wants will determine what the final grit is to be used.(matte to gloss finish).
I have found that the costumer wants a matte finish for a gun that is going to be used for hunting (to keep the reflection down).
Butt the trap shooters want a high gloss finish.
And the guns that are to be restored to original are finished as the factory did.
Also how bad the steel is (allot of pitting)will determine how high I go with the grit.
Mike
 

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Mirror finish had its day from about 1900 to WW One on Colt handguns, for example, in their pre-1911 automatics and the New Service. I do mirror finish on my early Colt autos before I send them to Turnbulls for re-lettering and blue.

As others say above, wet/dry is available up to 1500, even here in my Podunk area. On eBay you can get 3M polishing papers up into the thousands. I've done some up into the high numbers, taking forever and I've sent some at 1500 to Turnbulls. I don't think I can see any difference in the finished product. With the 1500 I did a very light buff after the paper.

To avoid lines or a pattern in the prep, go from rough grit to finer, grade by grade, each change of grade (or grit) change direction of the polish stroke. On a barrel, fore and aft till it looks OK with 220, say, then with 320 across shoe-shine fashion. When the latest grit has taken off all previous lines or pattern, change to next finer & switch direction. 600 or even 500 is about right for max. On a flat surface, back up your paper with a flat block of wood. I use about 1 inch wide, quarter inch thick by 5"long. Be careful hold in it flat against the work and don't let it rock and round the edges. When changing grits, 45 to 90 degrees each direction. If yu don't change direction each grit, you can't tell which scratch is the latest or one deeper from a previous grit.

Buffing will take out scratches, lines & patterns - and on a round surface like a barrel its pretty safe to lean on the buffer. On flat surfaces buffing is bad about rounding sharp edges and cratering screw holes, etc.

Here is one of my projects before & after:

 

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Blue is for softer materials but it does work well on carbon. I also agree with Jim, when you go to a super high luster as surface prep for bluing, the bluing almost looks fake and like its not in the steel but on the steel. you have to be careful around sharp edges and markings, thats why I stay in a lower speed most times and not spend much time on markings.
 

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Crocus cloth is great if you have a small area and lot of time. Many polishers use plain linen wheels with no compound at all for the final buffing. Basically, if you are a professional you give the customer what he wants, but it always galls me to hear some idjit tell me that older guns always had a finish you could use to shave. Heck some of what are now "old guns" are ones I sold, and I do remember what they looked like.

Factories avoided dishing and blurred markings by using hard wheels, not the soft wheels used by most gunsmiths. They also had little tricks. For example, S&W used/uses a wheel shaped like the bottom of the revolver frame, trigger guard and all, so it only requires a couple of passes to polish that whole area.

Jim
 

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Crocus cloth is great if you have a small area and lot of time. Many polishers use plain linen wheels with no compound at all for the final buffing. Basically, if you are a professional you give the customer what he wants, but it always galls me to hear some idjit tell me that older guns always had a finish you could use to shave. Heck some of what are now "old guns" are ones I sold, and I do remember what they looked like.

Factories avoided dishing and blurred markings by using hard wheels, not the soft wheels used by most gunsmiths. They also had little tricks. For example, S&W used/uses a wheel shaped like the bottom of the revolver frame, trigger guard and all, so it only requires a couple of passes to polish that whole area.

Jim
The older I get, I find patience is a virtue. But I only work on my own projects, so time is not a big factor. And Crocus cloth will polish metal w/o scratches etc.
 

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Not really without scratches but with ones that can't be seen with the naked eye, which is much the same thing.

Jim
 
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