How to Make Swirls on Aluminum

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Brushing aluminum can add an attractive design to an otherwise plain surface.
Brushing aluminum can add an attractive design to an otherwise plain surface. (Image: Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Brushing aluminum can transform a plain and sterile looking sheet of unfinished metal to a warm and inviting decorative surface. As aluminum is highly malleable it will readily accept brushing to create lines to simulate grain and texture in either symmetrical or irregular patterns. A common design often added to increase the attractiveness of aluminum, swirl marks can be made with a wire brush wheel and a rotary tool or electric drill. (see reference 1)

Things You'll Need

  • Dish soap
  • Sponge
  • Drill
  • Conical wire brush wheel
  • Rubbing compound
  • Soft cloths

Wash the aluminum surface with a mild dish soap and nonabrasive sponge. Rinse the aluminum thoroughly with plain water and dry the aluminum with paper towels.

Attach a conical wire brush to the drill. Conical brushes come in a variety of sizes; select a brush of the same diameter you wish to make the size of the swirl marks.

Set the drill to medium speed and lightly tap the brush against the surface of the aluminum. Lift the brush from the surface and move the drill to the next spot where you wish to place the next swirl mark. Continue moving the drill along the surface of the aluminum, tapping the brush against the surface, until you have achieved the desired pattern of swirl marks.

Clean the surface of the aluminum with automotive rubbing compound, covering a 6-inch diameter section of the aluminum at one time. Apply the rubbing compound to a clean soft cloth and rub the compound into the surface of the aluminum in short circular motions. Wipe the compound from the aluminum with a clean damp cloth.

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References

  • “The Metal Craft Book”; Janice Kilby and Deborah Morgenthal; 2002
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