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Proper Wheel Selection is Critical to Successful Metal Finishes

stainless_steel_brush_finishSTAINLESS STEEL:

Stainless steel finishes serve a wide variety of purposes, running from the cosmetic to the functional, but each is necessary. When fabricating with stainless steel, finishing the weld properly is a must or the metal loses its rust resisting qualities. During the welding process, stainless steel’s ability to resist oxidation is diminished. By finishing the weld properly, an oxide coating forms and restores the rust resisting properties. Unfinished or coarse ground stainless is susceptible to rust.

Stainless Steel features an oxide surface that is durable, does not corrode and is resistant to bacteria. These types of properties are useful in industries from food service to wastewater treatment, and come in 10 classifications of finishes:


No. 0 finish – A finish that is hot rolled[1] and annealed[2]. It has a scaled[3], blackish finish (may corrode) that is not yet abraded.[4]

No. 1 finish – A finish that is hot rolled, pickled[5] or passivated[6], and annealed[2]. It has a dull, rough, unfinished (may corrode) that is not yet abraded.

No. 2D finish – A No.1 finish that has been cold rolled[7], annealed and passivated. It features an even, dull, matted finish (pre-polish) that is not yet abraded.

No. 2B finish – A 2D finish with additional light cold roll. The finish is brighter and more uniform, and is common for sheet metal. It is not yet abraded.

No. 2BA finish – This finish is achieved using polished rolls. It is a brighter looking finish that is not yet abraded.

No. 3 finish – A unidirectional grained finish typically obtained using 80 to 100 grit abrasive material or its equivalent.

No. 4 finish – A unidirectional grained finish typically obtained using 150 grit abrasive or its equivalent.  This is typically referred to as a food grade finish.

No. 6 finish – This is a non directional, semi reflective, fine finish obtained using buffs and polishing paste. It is typically referred to as a satin finish.

No. 7 finish – This is a buffed, high polished finish that is highly reflective.

No. 8 finish – This is the highest polish with a blemish free surface and high reflective image clarity. It is typically referred to as a mirror finish.



The more complex stainless steel finishes typically require a multi-step processes. The first abrasive wheel used might be a coarse grit, followed by 60 grit, then 80 grit and finally a 150 grit to slowly achieve the desired finish. But Rex-Cut wheels feature a non-woven cotton fiber that’s denser than the non-woven nylon found in other abrasive wheels. Cotton fiber mounted points have a cushion action while in use, enabling the grit to push slightly back into the fiber, as opposed to the backing of a coated abrasive. This allows the grain to cut aggressively and finish at the same time. This type of wheel can reduce the number of steps involved in creating a complex finish.

Non-woven cotton wheels also feature a consistent finish throughout the life of the wheel, and there is no backing that can gouge the surface of the material. And while some wheels contain iron, which can contaminate the surface being finished, Rex-Cut wheels contain no iron and therefore will not introduce a corrosion element into a stainless steel product. It’s this winning combination that makes our wheels an advanced alternative to a comprehensive range of metal finishes.



Guide for Choosing Rex-Cut Wheels to Match Finishes

Standard Mill Finishes Products to Match Finishes
No. 2  
No. 3 A54GFX
No. 4 A80GFX & Max Flex 54
No. 6 A120 - A180GFX & Satin Finish Kit
No. 7 A320GFX & Polish Finish Kit
No. 8  

[1] A metal working process that occurs above the recrystalization temperature of the material
[2] A process of heating and slowly cooling the metal in order to remove internal stresses and make a durable product
[3] A black coating of oxide as the metal is heated for processing
[4] To apply an abrasive process to the surface
[5] Pickling removes impurities on the surface of the material
[6] Coated to protect the material from environmental factors
[7] A metal working process that occurs below the recrystalization temperature of the material, resulting in a stronger finished product

Filed under: Stainless Steel, Automotive, Fabrication, Aircraft