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Brass Polishing – The Complete Guide

Brass Polishing

Brass polishing is the process of removing tarnish, oxidation, and surface imperfections from brass parts. It aims to restore their shine and luster.

Besides, you can attain brass surface polishing by combining cleaning, sanding, buffing, and metal polishing processes.

In this guide, you will learn everything about polishing brass. So, before starting your next project, read this guide.

Brass Polishing Techniques

Polished Brass Comparison
Polished Brass Comparison

There is no one method for brass polishing. Several methods exist and you can use whichever is suitable for the task. Let us discuss these techniques in detail:

Hand Polishing Brass

This entails the use of a soft cloth and a brass cleaner. You will gently rub the surface of brass in circular motions to eliminate tarnish and surface imperfections.

How Hand Polishing Works

Here are the hand brass polishing steps:

  • Clean the surface and apply a small amount of brass cleaner to a soft piece of cloth
  • Rub the brass surface in a circular motion to remove tarnish and surface imperfections
  • Wipe off excess cleaner or polish with a clean cloth

Benefits of Hand Polishing

Hand polishing brass affords you the following advantages:

  • Can be done with household items such as soap and a soft cloth
  • Suitable for small and delicate brass objects

Limitations of Hand Polishing

Besides its benefits, here are some drawbacks to watch out for:

  • It is time consuming especially when dealing with large or complex brass objects
  • Can be difficult removing tarnish or oxidation that is deep-seated
Hand Polishing Brass Stand
Hand Polishing Brass Stand

Ideally, hand polishing is a practical process you can use for many brass casted parts or stamped brass parts.

Tumbling Brass for Polishing

In this technique, you will place brass items in a rotary tumbler with a media such as walnut shells to remove tarnish and surface imperfections.

How Tumbling Polishing Works

This is what a tumbling process looks like:

  • Fill a rotary tumbler with brass objects and media such as walnut shells
  • Add a brass cleaning solution to the tumbler.
  • Start the tumbler and let it run until the brass objects are clean and shiny.
  • Remove the brass objects and rinse them with water.

Benefits of Tumbler Polishing Brass

Using the tumbling technique is good because:

  • It is easy and efficient for complex or large brass items
  • Requires minimal manual labor
  • It effectively removes tarnish and oxidation

Limitations of Tumbling Polishing

Some minor disadvantages include:

  • The tumbler can prove to be costly to purchase or rent
  • It can damage delicate brass items
Brass Tumbling
Brass Tumbling

Sanding Brass to Polish Surface

Here, you will use sandpaper that has various degrees of grit to remove tarnish, surface imperfections, and oxidation.

How Sanding Brass Works

Here are the sanding brass polishing steps:

  • Clean the brass surface and use a coarse grit sandpaper to remove tarnish and surface imperfection
  • Then, use a finer grit sandpaper to smooth the surface and eliminate any remaining scratches
  • Finish by cleaning the brass surface

Benefits of Sanding Brass

Sanding offers the following benefits:

  • Suitable for removing tarnish, oxidation, and deep-seated surface imperfections
  • Can be done with relatively cheap and readily available materials

Limitations of Sanding Brass

The drawbacks of sanding include:

  • It is time consuming especially for large and complex brass items
  • Can be difficult to achieve a smooth, polished surface
  • It can damage delicate brass objects

Buffing Brass to Polish Surface

This process entails attaching a buffing wheel to a motor. Thereafter, you apply a brass buffing compound to the wheel to create a high shine on the brass surface.

How Buffing Brass Works

The steps involved entail:

  • Clean the brass and attach a buffing wheel to a motor and apply a brass buffing compound to the wheel
  • Hold the brass object and turn on the motor.
  • Move the buffing wheel over the brass surface in a circular motion to create a high shine.
  • Wipe away any excess buffing compound.

Benefits of Buffing Brass

Some advantages of using buffing technique are:

  • Quick and efficient for creating a high shine on brass objects
  • Can be done with relatively cheap equipment

Limitations of Buffing Brass

Besides the benefits, here are some disadvantages:

  • Can cause damage to delicate brass objects
  • Requires practice to achieve a smooth, polished surface
Brass Buffing
Brass Buffing

Ultrasonic Polishing Brass

This technique uses high-frequency sound waves to agitate a cleaning solution and remove dirt, grime, and tarnish from brass objects.

How Ultrasonic Polishing Brass Works

Here is a step by step process:

  • Fill an ultrasonic cleaner with a brass cleaning solution and place the brass items
  • Power it on and let the cleaner run for some time
  • Remove the brass objects from the cleaner and rinse them with water

Benefits of Ultrasonic Polishing

These advantages entail:

  • Quick and efficient for removing dirt, grime, and tarnish from brass objects
  • Can be used to clean intricate or hard-to-reach parts of brass objects

Limitations of Ultrasonic Polishing

A few of the disadvantages include:

  • Costly to purchase or rent
  • Can damage delicate brass objects
Ultrasonic Brass Cleaning
Ultrasonic Brass Cleaning

Polishing Brass using Dremel tool

In this technique, you will use a rotating tool with a brass brush attachment to scrub the surface of the brass.

How Dremel Tool Works

The process includes:

  • Clean the brass and attach a brass brush attachment to a Dremel tool
  • Turn on the Dremel tool and start scrubbing the surface with the brass brush
  • Work in small sections and be careful not to damage the brass.
  • Wipe and clean the brass

Benefits of Using Dremel Tool

Dremel offers the following advantages:

  • Good for removing tarnish and oxidation from intricate or hard-to-reach parts
  • Can be done with a relatively cheap tool

Limitations of Using Dremel Tool

These include:

  • Can cause damage to delicate brass objects
  • Requires practice to achieve a smooth, polished surface
Metal Polish
Metal Polish

Difference Between Brass Polishing And Brass Cleaning

Brass polishing is the process of restoring the shine and removing surface imperfections, tarnish, and oxidation from brass objects. The aim of brass polishing it to enhance the appearance.

Brass cleaning is the process of removing dirt, grime, and other contaminants from brass objects. It aims to improve their hygiene and overall cleanliness. Brass cleaning may be necessary before brass polishing to ensure that the surface is free of dirt.

Improving Shine With Brass Polishing

Brass polishing improves the shine of brass items by removing tarnish, oxidation, and imperfections. By doing so, the surface becomes brighter and produces a shine to it.

Coatings You Can Apply After Brass Polishing

It is possible to apply different kinds of coating once you polish brass. Let us have a look at some of them:

Wax Coating

This entails applying a wax coating, such as carnauba wax. It can provide a protective layer to prevent tarnish and oxidation. The wax also helps to maintain the shine of the brass.

Lacquer Coating

This is a clear, protective coating that dries to a hard finish. It helps to protect brass from tarnish and oxidation, and also provides a long-lasting shine.

Oil coating

A thin layer of oil, such as olive oil, is applied to brass objects to prevent tarnish and oxidation. This method is quick and easy, but the oil may need to be reapplied regularly.


This is a clear, protective coating that is applied to brass objects. Sealants are typically long-lasting and provide a good level of protection, but may require specialized equipment for application.

Microcrystalline Wax

A wax specifically designed for metal surfaces, it provides a protective barrier against tarnish and fingerprints.

Renaissance Wax

This is a microcrystalline wax commonly used to protect metal, leather, and wood artifacts in museums.


A clear varnish can be applied to brass to protect it from tarnish, but it may yellow over time.

Tips To Consider When Doing Brass Polishing

When polishing brass, it is best to keep some tips handy. This will ensure efficient and safe processes. Some of the tips you should consider include:

  • Using soft pieces of cloth to polish as they leave no scratches
  • Gently applying light pressure for best results
  • Selecting the appropriate polish
  • Testing a small area first to ensure it does not damage the brass

How Long It Takes To Polish Brass

The time it takes to polish brass can vary depending on the size of the piece and the desired level of shine. A small item, such as a door knob, may take only a few minutes to hand polish.

A larger item, such as a brass bed frame, may take several hours of sanding, buffing, and polishing to achieve a high shine. On average, the entire polishing process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours.

How To Maintain Polished Brass Surface

Like many products, it is advisable to conduct maintenance to ensure they remain in good condition over long periods. This is no exception to brass.

Some maintenance techniques entails:

  • Regularly cleaning the brass with soft cloth, mild soap, and water
  • Apply protective layer that will prevent tarnish and shine
  • Avoid abrasive cleaners as they can scratch the brass surface
  • Re-polish to restore shine when needed

Brass Alloys That You Can Polish

Most brass alloys can be polished, including:

  • Yellow brass
  • Red brass
  • Naval brass

However, some alloys, such as leaded brass and high-zinc brass, may be more difficult to polish. This is because they may have a more porous or brittle surface that is prone to damage.


There you have it, a guide on brass polishing. We hope you are now knowledgeable to the brass polishing technique.

At KDM, we will help you in all your brass finishing requirements – talk to us now.

More Resources:

Cleaning Brass – Source: Grove

How to Polish Brass – Source: Laura

Buffing and Polishing Brass – Source: Empire Abrasive

Ultrasonic Cleaning Brass – Source: Tovatech

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