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Surface finish for aluminium sheet?

What technique?

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Bo'sun13/05/2021 07:39:20
444 forum posts

Good morning,

I have a piece of aluminium sheet 250 x 190mm. I want to give it a fine surface texture/pattern of some sort. How do I reproduce the circle/semi-circle pattern that seems to be quite common?

Any other suggestions welcomed.

JasonB13/05/2021 07:45:35
20637 forum posts
2296 photos
1 articles

Look up "Engine Turned Finish" or Engine Turning" plenty of ways to do it.

Edited By JasonB on 13/05/2021 07:47:31

Grindstone Cowboy13/05/2021 08:17:20
620 forum posts
57 photos

Here's just one example from Mark Presling, who I find quite easy to watch.

Links to


David George 113/05/2021 08:22:23
1572 forum posts
482 photos

I have a disc holder which holds abrasive disc which fits into a drill or mill and you just press it lightly onto the surface in any pattern from a circle to straight lines to give engine turned pattern.

they come in diferent diamiter and the abrasive are diferent grades just peel of back and stick on holder.


Jim Nic13/05/2021 10:03:30
335 forum posts
197 photos

I used a round piece of softish leather glued to the end of a piece of wood dowel and impregnated with engine valve grinding paste:

Engine turning 2.jpg

Note that I didn't use it in my milling machine for fear of getting abrasive in the little important bits of the machine but my cheapo drill press survived the experience unscathed.

The finish I got was:

Popcorn base & plinth 1.jpg


Craig Brown 213/05/2021 10:17:23
41 forum posts
11 photos


I made this money box for my son and basically used the exact same technique described by Jim above. A wooden dowel with a piece of leather glued to the end and used a mix of oil and surface grinder swarf as the abrasive. Cover the surface in oil and then sprinkle a small covering of the abrasive and then just work your way across. It's best to set up a fence to keep the pattern square and I just did my overlaps by eye. Obviously a spacer is then used between the part and the fence for the next row and so on and so on.


Bo'sun13/05/2021 10:18:22
444 forum posts

Thank you everyone,

Looks straight forward enough with a little bit of experimentation and practice.

Just in case you're wondering, it's for the base of a small stationary steam engine I've just completed. With a wood base looking not dissimilar to Jim's example above.

Dave Halford13/05/2021 13:12:08
1507 forum posts
16 photos

Just be very precise with the spacing devil

Martin Kyte13/05/2021 14:03:51
2407 forum posts
40 photos

or you could straight grain it if you decide against a pattern.

regards Martin

Bo'sun18/05/2021 07:49:09
444 forum posts

Thanks again, it worked out realy well. I used some maroon Scotchbrite, cut with a wad punch and glued to a wooden mandrel.

However, lesson learned. If you're working on a finished piece, and want the pattern right up to the edge, use a sacrificial strip butted up the edge, otherwise the edge will tear up the pad.

Circlip18/05/2021 10:00:22
1271 forum posts

And be careful not to damage the first row, like the tiles on a roof. Damage the bottom row and start all over again.

Regards   Ian


Edited By Circlip on 18/05/2021 10:00:52

Jim Nic18/05/2021 10:18:01
335 forum posts
197 photos

Good to see you got it done, got any pictures?


Bo'sun18/05/2021 15:14:03
444 forum posts

Hi Jim,

Sorry, but my phone has buttons on it, and my camera is a 35mm OM4Ti.

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