How to neatly brush finish sheet aluminium and s/s?

Hi all,
I restore antique espresso coffee machines ('40s - 60's) for a hobby. When it comes to metal finishes, I am a rank amateur.
I have would like to improve the quality of my restorations by learning how to do a neat job of refinishing brushed panels. I guess that this entails using various grades of wet and dry sandpaper, or perhaps scotchbrite pads. My question is, how do I achieve an even finish?
I would be most appreciative for any pointers or links to helpful websites.
thanks, Paul
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

You can buy it already done. Go here http://www.mcmaster.com/ and search for 1651T21 . There are various size, thicknesses, and materials. Randy
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Trying to get a consistent grain pattern is a RPITA. If you are trying to touch up a small spot, it always wants to show. The original finish was put in using an abrasive wheel with a certain size abrasive grain and a specific pressure. This gives a depth of cut and distance between cuts that you are trying to match. Good luck. You can try various grades of sandpaper but ..............
Best approach is to completely redo the whole surface using a flap wheel on a bench grinder or better yet, a flap wheel on a hand held angle grinder. A light touch, long strokes, works fine. www.mcmaster.com search on 'flap wheel' they come in sandpaper style, non woven, the 3M Scothcbright ones, etc.
Keep in mind that the aluminum pannels are quite soft, stainless steel is much harder, and a lot of the pannels are brushed steel with chrome plating. Be sure you know which one you are working with before starting in. The chrome plated ones really need to be stripped, rebrushed, then rechromed.
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I believe the process is correctly referred to as graining. I did quite a bit of it when I worked in a finishing department in a machine manufacturing company.
Most of the prts that I grained were thick welded stainless parts (not sheetmetal), on a graining table (machine) that was used to remove the mill finish and make welds disappear. The machine was like a huge belt sander (about a 6" wide belt), but the belt area between the hubs was open, and traveling over a gliding table. A padded block was used on the back side of the belt, to press the belt down to the workpiece. The table would be manually moved in/out perpendicular to the belt direction, to get full coverage of the workpiece. The finished workpieces looked completely uniform in appearance. The abrasive was traveling in a straight line, and in only one direction. The critical part was to not round over the edges, by by keeping the hand block from travelling over them.
Appliance parts can be many different types of metal, as RoyJ suggested. If you completely disassemble the machines, refinishing the entire (flat?) panels would be easier to get a uniform finish, than trying to touch up areas while the machines are assembled. Seeing the back sides of the parts would help you determine if the parts are stainless, anodized aluminum, or plated steel. The stainless parts wouldn't require any other processes other than graining. The other parts will require additional processes (chemical and electrical) to retain the bright appearance.
When working with abrasives, using different carriers will affect the appearance of the finished part. Using a wood block, a steel block, or a plastic/rubber block will give different finishes on the same metal, using the same abrasive.
WB metalworking projects http://www.kwagmire.com/metal_proj.html ...........
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On 17 Sep 2006 07:16:40 -0700, "Wild Bill"

======= bottom posted to a top posted response ==========As usual what seems to be [and is] a simple process has a number of "tricks of the trade." Thanks for sharing.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I've had good results from one of those Scotch pad wheels on a polishing spindle. I've only tried it on stainless and aluminium, and it worked well.
--
Regards, Gary Wooding
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