Aluminum gunwale cleanup

Have you ever made an effort to clean, polish, smooth out the finish(small dings, scratches, scrapes)on aluminum gunwales?

What did you use? How did it work?

Any suggestions?


I haven’t done this on that particular item, but I’m in the metal fab. business, and I hammer the dings lightly, using something to brace the item as I hammer. Basically trying to hammer the dings flat, then use fine sandpaper to smooth rough edges that are left, finish with red scotchbrite. If this is an aluminum canoe, and you want to clean the entire boat, I use aluminum brightener, available at any chemical supply house, just make sure you rinse very well!

A DA sander with a velcro pad helps if there’s a large area, scotchbrite pads will hold to the pad if the speed is kept low. This will produce an even sheen, hand rubbing in line will produce a brushed finish. The trick is not to be any more abrasive than needed.

Hope this helps.

Stainless steel wire brush
I’ve also done some metalwork professionally. When cleaning aluminum to prep for welding a stainless wire brush or wire wheel spun in an electric drill was what I used. Make sure it’s stainless because a regular steel brush will imbed microscopic particles that will rust.

If the gunwale extrusion is smooth scotchbrite pads should work fine. But if there is longitudinal ribbing or any type of concave texture a wire wheel will probably be more efficient.


Is it anodised ??? Then all those
abrasives would take a bunch of it off.

I remember soaking in Simple Green as working way way better than expected.

Acetone o.k to wipe decal / gelcoat too Bob