Removing scratches from glass tanks: My experiences.

Discussion in 'DIY' started by anathema, Apr 23, 2012.

  1. anathema

    anathema Guest

    So as some of you know, I have been getting somewhat DIY with glass over the last year. I learned how to cut glass, made my own overflow box, and a few other projects. I actually inquired about part time gigs at some of the local glass shops, and kept an eye out for any interesting learning opportunities. Last fall, I came upon a craigslist ad offering a job repairing graffiti and scratches in windows and decided to check it out.

    I called them up, and long story short I've been fixing graffiti throughout the city on my days off all winter. It gave me a chance to learn how to do something I'd always wanted to try. I can now say that when people tell you it's impossible to fix scratches in a glass aquairum they are wrong. However, I will admit it's still not as easy as a plexi tank and may only be worth it for very large tanks.

    I've held off posting because I didn't want to seem like I was trying to sell anyone anything. I've actually parted ways with the company I worked for, for no other reason than I plan to be very busy this summer and a part time job didn't fit in. In any case, I've turned in my equipment, and I'm not willing to do this for anyone at this time, but I thought people would be interested to know the process is out there, and hear some first person feedback.

    I thought about posting my own pics of some projects, but the company has done better than I ever could with their training videos:

    I only have experience with that one company and their line of products, though there are others that might be cheaper.

    Some basic info from an aquarium hobby perspective:

    Yes the tank would have to be drained to remove inside scratches. Outside scratches could probably be removed with a full tank, BUT I HAVE NOT TRIED IT. The process does produce significant heat, so you would want to go very slowly.

    The claim by the companies involved is that polishing does not significantly reduce the thickness or the strength of the glass. Some material is removed but supposedly the glass is strengthened by the removal of the stress point when a scratch is removed.

    In my opinion, this is something that will not be cost effective for most hobbyists. The company I worked for had a minimum $300 charge.

    Also my opinion, if you want this done the best way is to buy a kit and learn how to fix the scratch yourself. Almost all of the work I did for the company I worked for was shop windows. In most cases, it was acceptable to leave small blemishes and remnants on the glass in order to bring the cost down for the customer, as long as the graffiti was removed. This makes perfect sense for a shop window that is likely to get retagged eventually anyway, but to an aquarium guy this wouldn't seem very worthwhile. However, if you call a shop with a minimum bid project, then tell the guy you want perfection, you might have a hard time making that happen. If you want something done right...

    Finally for the sad part... glass renu as far as I can tell doesn't really want to sell to the average joe. They want to sell kits for professionals and those kits cost upwards of $2000. I'm still working on finding a similar enough backing plate for my personal grinder so that I can mimic their setup on my home projects. I'll post if I find the right stuff cheaply.

    If you guys want more info let me know.
  2. bondolo

    bondolo Supporting Member

    Pretty interesting. My tank has a spot on the inside where it appears someone used a metal scouring pad to scrub off coraline. Unfortunately as it is on the curved side I don't think it will be possible to ever remove it using the technique in the video. If you figure out where to get the equipment I might be interested to experiment on my QT tank.
  3. anathema

    anathema Guest

    Fwiw, I tried it out on the 155 bowfront I got a while ago. It had a scratch on the front that looked like it had been run into a doorknob while being moved, and some light scratching on the inside. It worked fine, was a bit more complicated than flat glass because you get swirl marks from using the edge of a disc, but I was able to get it very clean.
  4. Scarbird

    Scarbird Supporting Member

  5. Jeremy

    Jeremy Guest

    Check with Denzil. He polished Brandie's (goldielocke76) tank and I'm pretty sure he used cerium oxide to do it.

    Sent using tapatalk4 from my GS III
    goldielocke76 likes this.
  6. Scarbird

    Scarbird Supporting Member

    Thanks Jeremy,
    I bought some cerium oxide today from Georges Gems in Hayward. I have a dremel, and he sold me some buffing pads to fit. He was very informative on all types of polishing and indicated that if the cerium oxide didn't produce clear enough glass he had some diamond based compound that would polish even further. Denzil, I would love to hear about your experience.
    I got a great deal on a used 150 gallon glass and just need to remove a few scratches before beginning my build.
    My journal will be coming soon, with before and after pics.
  7. denzil

    denzil Webmaster

    Hey John, PM me with whatever questions you have or your phone number if you'd like to chat. :)
  8. Coral reefer

    Coral reefer President

    And get a real upgrade if you're gonna do it. 30 extra gal for all that work?
    I kid
  9. Tenny

    Tenny Supporting Member

    Any suggestions on which products to use?

    On my new 50g I noticed two really light scratches on the inside... (and a bigger worse one on the outside that looks too deep to fix). Would really like to polish it out while the tank is still empty.
  10. denzil

    denzil Webmaster

    It really depends on how bad it is. You can try buffing things out with cerium oxide if it's necessary. You always want to start with the least aggressive method first and work your way up if you need to.
  11. Scarbird

    Scarbird Supporting Member

    For what it's worth, I failed miserably. On the bright side, I am in the process of ordering a new custom starphire.
    My journal will runneth over in the near future. The scratched tank will become my frag tank.
  12. Tenny

    Tenny Supporting Member

    It's pretty minor. really, and they are right next to eachother. They probably aren't even noticeable when under water but I just want to get it done before I put water in it and regret it. The tank I have now has three big scratches that are the first thing I look at.

    I have a DA Polisher (I detail cars for family and friends), would that be acceptable to use it for?

    Haha, I wish I had the money to just buy a starphire! I already have five frag tanks (only one is setup currently though, but I need to set the others up soon as I am overflowing.)
  13. denzil

    denzil Webmaster

    If it's glass, probably not. If it's acrylic, you probably have a good chance of getting it out.

    Didn't realize you detailed cars too. :)
  14. Tenny

    Tenny Supporting Member

    Huh, I always thought glass was pretty easy to get them out. I will still give it a shot... I'd regret not giving it a try everytime I saw the scratch once it's set up.
  15. denzil

    denzil Webmaster

    Glass is a harder surface so it's more difficult to fix than it is for acrylic using a DA polisher. It's a different rotating mechanism and isn't as strong as a rotary polisher.
  16. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    The best answer : More scratches!
    One scratch in an otherwise pristine view is seriously annoying.
    Especially after spending hours polishing.
    With a whole bunch of scratches, you quickly tune them out.
    You will get them anyway. Too many other things to stress over.
  17. Hi there
    Thank you very much for your info, very interesting. I'm looking to fix my new tank before installing it, just bought a used tank and once I brought it home and get it all cleaned up I noticed few scratches that I am worry they will show once the tank is filled.
    I am pretty handy and the instructional video seemed very easy to follow but by any chance do you know what are the best pads to use and where I can get them? Also the polishing compound where would you source it?
    Any info would be appreciated

  18. anathema

    anathema Guest

    The brand I used and linked above was commercial only. They try to force people to buy a franchise to order it. It's called glassrenu, they have a website but the kits are pretty costly. They make a big deal about "proprietary foam density" but really it's just foam backed sanding pads.

    However, Amazon seems to have a good selection of discs and polish both.

    The idea is the same, start with a rough pad work your way down. How rough a pad depends on severity of scratches.

    I'd bet an auto-finish specialty shop could point you to a local source.
  19. anathema

    anathema Guest

  20. xcaret

    xcaret Supporting Member

    DBS Discount Builders Supply in SF has polishing pads for counter-tops, they might have the super fine grit available too, right by the power tools aisle

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