What finish to put on aluminum?

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Forum topic by Blake posted 01-07-2011 04:24 AM 4255 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Blake's profile


3442 posts in 3689 days

01-07-2011 04:24 AM

Topic tags/keywords: aluminum finish question

I asked my finishing guy if he could clear-coat the aluminum pulls I had custom made for my Credenza. He said he has had really bad luck with any kind of clear-coat on aluminum and he didn’t want to do it. I was kind of surprised since he does automotive stuff too. I wanted to put something on them to protect them and soften the cold metallic feel. Any suggestions?

-- Happy woodworking!

15 replies so far

View Loren's profile


9560 posts in 3463 days

#1 posted 01-07-2011 04:38 AM

You can get them anodized.

I wouldn’t expect much durability for a clear finish an aluminum,
but you might try brass lacquer, which sticks pretty well to trumpets.

You might want to look at gun finishing compounds for aluminum:

Not my area of expertise at all. The guys who like to make new electric
guitar pickups and hardware look old have a lot of methods you may
want to look into.

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 2875 days

#2 posted 01-07-2011 05:13 AM

Not recommended, because any clear coats will not last long. You might as well polish it.

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 2875 days

#3 posted 01-07-2011 05:14 AM

By the way, I love the handles.
Are they screwed with those machine s screws from behind?

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18067 posts in 3491 days

#4 posted 01-07-2011 10:37 AM

Most gun finishes will wear off where they are handled on a regular basis.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View tdv's profile


1186 posts in 2885 days

#5 posted 01-07-2011 12:46 PM

I have used a special clear coat lacquer for brass but it doesnt last when polished or handled regularly it then shows discoloured patches where it oxidises on the worn off areas I would personally agree with Loren get them anodised. You went a long way to make it a nice job, anything less is spoiling the ship for a ha’peth (that’s a half penny worth) of tar as we say in Yorkshire.

-- God created wood that we may create. Trevor East Yorkshire UK

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4167 posts in 2671 days

#6 posted 01-07-2011 12:59 PM

I would Anodise them.
I’ve sprayed clear from an aerosol before and it looked fine. That was out of reach though.
However all handles need to be anodised as they get wear .


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View CharleyL's profile


221 posts in 3179 days

#7 posted 01-09-2011 06:19 PM

Anodizing will last better than any other surface treatment available. It is a process of oxidizing the surface to form a hard aluminum oxide coating. Since the oxide is a thin and very hard surface it will resist wear very well. The process will also dull the mirrored shine a bit. This oxide can be clear, or dyed many different colors and the dye sealed into the oxide surface during the anodizing process, if you should decide that a color is preferred over the look of the dulled anodized aluminum appearance. Black, red, and gold are common colors, but many others are available. Search for an anodizing company in your area and talk to them about what options are available.


View jeepturner's profile


939 posts in 2607 days

#8 posted 01-09-2011 06:25 PM

X4 or 5 on the anodizing. I work in aerospace and that is the first finish requirement on most aluminum. After you anodize then you might have better luck with a clear coat, but with the anodized coatings available you may not want a top coat.

-- Mel,

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 2595 days

#9 posted 01-09-2011 09:29 PM

HHmm.. Check with the people who doo aluminum wheels with a clear coat..but the anodizing does seem to be the most durable . Even though after 265 thousand km my Jimmies’s wheels only have a few spots that could use repair.

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View BTKS's profile


1985 posts in 3279 days

#10 posted 01-11-2011 02:17 AM

Don’t have a clue about finishing aluminum but I really like the look these pulls.

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View ghazard's profile


382 posts in 3324 days

#11 posted 01-11-2011 04:35 AM

Definitely anodize if you want a long term finish that cleans up well for a long time.

Good luck


-- "Hey, you dang woodchucks! Quit chuckin' my wood!"

View 8iowa's profile


1566 posts in 3576 days

#12 posted 01-11-2011 05:08 AM

Give Johnson’s past wax a try. (original formula with red stripe on can) It is easy to renew the wax coat from time to time and the wax will do a good job of resisting oxidation.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View KnotWright's profile


258 posts in 3303 days

#13 posted 01-11-2011 05:24 AM

Blake, I own an antique fire truck with aluminum running boards, what I did was a search on polish and Air Stream travel trailers. There are a lot of products out there to polish and protect aluminum. These polishes are also used on a lot of airplanes as well.

Depending on the “feel” you are looking to achieve, anodizing might be the cheapest, longest lasting option for you. The polishes are pretty expensive and labor intensive too.

-- James

View Edwin's profile


132 posts in 2813 days

#14 posted 01-15-2011 09:55 PM

I build aluminum railings and had many powdercoated with great success. I live on the east coast in southern section of NJ with our harsh winters etc.. You can get A myiad of colors Ranging from flatblack to to international orange. I would goggle Powdercoating and explore…..............ED

-- Ed Port Republic

View grosa's profile


998 posts in 2644 days

#15 posted 02-12-2011 04:21 PM

For indoor use I use lacquer.

-- Have a great day.

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