Applying a mirror polish does more than make your blade look sleek and attractive. Although many knife owners assume that sharpening their blades is enough to keep them cutting cleanly, taking the extra step of polishing reduces the risk of premature dulling.
Mirror finishes are typically reserved for show pieces, because even a small amount of use can blemish the finish. Nevertheless, mirror polish finishes look incredible and they are absolutely worth the extra effort. In this guide, the abrasive specialists at Red Label Abrasives outline the importance of mirror polishing your knife and how to do it the right way.
The purpose of polishing a knife is to remove the imperfections from the surface and buff it for a smooth finish. Mirror polishing takes it a step further by achieving a highly smooth metal surface first by mechanical and then by chemical means. The result is a pristine finish that could double as a mirror (hence the name).
With the mechanical polishing steps, you carefully grind the metal surface to remove rust and corrosion and reveal the clean layer underneath. The goal is to get the blade smooth enough to support a clean and reflective surface.
Chemical polishing uses polishing fluids and solutions to remove oxides from the knife's surface and leave a clean and shiny finish.
Mirror polishing your knife has many benefits. When the blade is already sharp, applying a mirror enhances its cutting ability. If you use your knives for food preparation, for example, you can cut steaks, vegetables, and fruit and leave less residue than you would on an untreated blade.
Here are a few reasons why you should mirror polish a knife:
One of the biggest prerequisites for proper mirror polishing is using the right tools. Below is an overview of the items you’ll need for mechanical and chemical polishing.
So now that you have tools and materials, let's move on to the process of mirror polishing. It starts with removing surface imperfections and ends with a clean finish.
Use sandpaper or medium-density felt wheels to remove rough and irregular surfaces from the blade. The goal is to remove any unwanted, unsightly marks from the knife surface and get rid of accumulated rust. If you’re restoring an old knife that has deeper marks and scratches, consider switching to hard density felt wheels.
The first step leaves deep wear scratches on the knife's surface. During the next stage of grinding, you remove these marks so you can prepare the knife for a mirror surface. To avoid adding even more unwanted spots to the blade at this stage, consider using soft felt wheels.
To minimize fine polishing work later, spend more time on fine grinding. Use grease-based chemical compounds such as Emery and Tripoli: both do a great job of eliminating those fine scratches from the knife's surface.
Polishing is the final step to getting a shiny mirror finish on a knife. For best results, use a stainless steel polishing fluid: it’s simple to prepare and apply and the outcome is usually stellar.
Once you’ve mastered these steps, you’ll create a mirror polish that improves both the appearance and operation of your blades. With regular maintenance, your knives will have a look and functionality that a master craftsman would envy.
A perfect mirror polish is both an art form and a science that wouldn’t be possible to achieve without the right materials. Using quality abrasives for grinding and polishing is essential. Red Label Abrasives manufactures sanding belts, sanding sheets, and other abrasives that prime and polish metal surfaces. We also sell dedicated knife making kits that can turn metal pieces into attractive and functional blades. To learn more about our abrasives or place an order, please call 844-824-1956 or fill out our contact form.