Polishing marble (using wood polishing principles, of course)

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Project by Carey Mitchell posted 06-03-2013 02:32 AM 1298 views 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

While not exactly woodworking, I thought someone else might benefit from this experiment.

We bought this antique table with a travertine insert in the middle. When we got it home and cleaned up and viewed in good light, there were numerous minor scratches, many rings from glasses, and a couple of stains which would not come out. The wife wanted me to make a wood insert to replace the marble.

Assuming it to have no value as it stood, I decided to try to polish it out, using plain old wet/dry sandpaper.

I started with 320, liberally wet with water. I used an old 1/4 sheet sander, so no big loss if it burned out. After every grit change, I took the disc outside and washed it well to remove the coarser grit; also rinsed the sander (unplugged, of course) to prevent contamination of the next step with coarser grit particles.

The 320 completely removed the original luster (no surprise there, except how easily it happened) and took out the visible scratches. Then came 400, 600, 800, 1000 and finally 2 full operations with 1200 grit. After drying, I applied a coat of wax and there it was – the original luster, without scratches, rings and stains !

I did notice that there is a very slight waviness in the surface that I did not see in the original. I assume this was due to differences in the hardness in different areas of the stone. Perhaps a wider base on the sander would have left a flatter surface, but I really have to look hard to see it and I assume that if a photo does not show it up, it won’t show in indoor light.

The entire exercise took about 2 hours. the result speaks for itself. Cost – about 6 sheets of sandpaper. I suppose one could go to even finer abrasives and get a really shiny surface, but these are what I had for sharpening and they worked.

4 comments so far

View Sanding2day's profile


1014 posts in 1988 days

#1 posted 06-03-2013 02:44 AM

Certainly is good info to know… Decided on composite marble when making my bar and have wondered how well that would work for present and future blemishes… Have not been brave enough to try, but now I will be more confident when the time comes… Thanks for sharing…

-- Dan

View ShaneA's profile


7032 posts in 2740 days

#2 posted 06-03-2013 02:50 AM

One can also use diamond sanding pads on a 1/4 sheet sander with water. The diamonds will cut faster and last longer. 3M manufactures a line. You can take them to a pretty high sheen, then marble polishes can take them over the top w/clarity. A lot is possible, if you are prepared to put out the effort.

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3227 days

#3 posted 06-03-2013 02:15 PM

Great looking experiment, you had nothing to lose, and gained a good looking table and some experience.
Thank you for sharing.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View shopmania's profile


701 posts in 3324 days

#4 posted 06-04-2013 03:17 AM

Looks really great! Good job! I would have thought you would have to go to a higher grit, but that looks super.

-- Tim, Myrtle Beach, Just one more tool, that's all I need! :)

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