Finishing Aluminum Tube

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Forum topic by TelescopeMaker posted 10-07-2010 04:15 AM 1184 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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77 posts in 2950 days

10-07-2010 04:15 AM

I have a project which consists mainly of baltic birch ply, but has 2 or three aluminum parts. A major one is a 2 inch diameter aluminum tube five feet long.

It is 6061-T6 aluminum and very stiff. It is not anodized. I would like it to have a shiney, natural finish on part of it and flat black on the rest of it. It is likely that it will be exposed to the evening dew now and then.

How would I go about preparing the aluminum and what kind of finish can I apply to it that would keep it in good condition?

Should I have it anodized? Or are there other treatments? I know very little about finishing metal.

-- Telescope Maker, Woodworker, Brewer, Gizmologist, Gardner, Lawn Mower

3 replies so far

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3114 posts in 3039 days

#1 posted 10-07-2010 04:31 AM

I’d recommend anodizing it, which is a controlled oxidization process. I use it all the time to protect aluminum parts against corrosion, and you can pick the colors, even (including clear). Your best bet is to take it to a plating shop and talk to the people there about what you really want. If you know anyone in the aircraft industry, you can have an alodyne prep done. That is a chromic acid treatment that will prohibit most subsequent corrosion. Note that this is a toxic, highly regulated process, as it involves hexavalent chromium (think Erin Brockovich). So, you may not want to do that.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View pantaz's profile


4 posts in 3693 days

#2 posted 10-07-2010 08:49 AM

If it’s not going to see a lot of physical wear, such as a handrail, then a couple of coats of clear polyurethane might work.

View MattinCincy's profile


128 posts in 3083 days

#3 posted 10-07-2010 08:13 PM

I agree with AtomJack. Clear anodize is the way to go. I would create the surface finish you want to end up with by sanding and/or abrasive pad, creating a consistent scratch pattern. Get that clear anodized, then mask and paint the black portion with a flat black paint. You might even be able to get the black powder coated on top of the anodizing, but I’m not sure about the adhesion.

-- Wag more, bark less.

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