Now that I've got the rust on my table saw taken care of, I realized that my 25 year old miter saw base could use a little love.

Poor, unloved miter saw base with oxidation

The majority of the saw is made out of cast(?) aluminum, so it hasn't "rusted", but it does have an uneven coating of oxidation on it, and it's got some fairly noticeable machining marks on it (from new), with the darkest of the oxidation seeming to be in the deeper grooves from the machining.

While I used naval jelly to clean the cast iron table saw, I don't believe that's appropriate for cleaning aluminum. (And, I don't want to chance it taking the lettering off the miter gauge, etc.)

I gave it a quick pass with the RO sander with 220 grit paper (straight off of duty cleaning up the table saw), but that didn't seem to help much. I don't want to sand it too much, as I believe the aluminum would be much softer than the iron, and I can see where it would be much easier to end up with an uneven surface if I'm not careful.

What chemical or mechanical methods would be appropriate for cleaning oxidized aluminum surfaces while providing minimum risk for damage?

Of course, I realize the answer may just be "leave it the heck alone and use it more", but after seeing how (relatively) easy it was to spiff up the table saw, I'm motivated to get this looking shiny and new again.

  • Looks a lot like aluminum. Why do anything? Maybe buff it with very fine abrasive like 600 grit. I would not do anything with chemicals. Sep 16, 2021 at 21:29
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    @blacksmith37, looks like aluminum? It says it is right in the title.
    – Graphus
    Sep 16, 2021 at 22:34
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    I'd be tempted to leave this alone other than giving it a thorough cleaning. I'm actually fond of the mottled appearance like you have here, although obviously it's not to every taste. BTW the reason you're having difficulty when sanding is that the oxide that forms on the surface is aluminium oxide, literally the same stuff that industrial abrasive is made from. You have to get that off/get underneath it before you make any appreciable headway when surfacing aluminium.
    – Graphus
    Sep 16, 2021 at 22:40
  • Automotive polishing compound?
    – gnicko
    Sep 17, 2021 at 13:03
  • It's OK, @blacksmith37, I've had more than my fair share of reading comprehension fails lately. :D:D:D
    – FreeMan
    Sep 17, 2021 at 13:52

1 Answer 1


Maybe try automotive/marine aluminum polish like used on aluminum wheels and so forth.

Or, maybe something like this Aluminum Cleaner/Brightener/Restorer which seems to be a non-abrasive approach.

Caveat: I have no first-hand experience using these products on miter saw tables (I'm good with it as it is) but have used the polishing compound on wheels over the years and they do a good job.

  • I'll give you the check mark. If something notably better comes along, I reserve the right to change my mind... :)
    – FreeMan
    Sep 20, 2021 at 17:51
  • Fair enough. If I think of something better, I'll post another answer... Actually, I was looking at the aluminum base of my saw last night and I've been thinking about it since...
    – gnicko
    Sep 20, 2021 at 19:36
  • @FreeMan, FWIW I was very much thinking this was a case where you might just want to go with a commercial cleaning product if you weren't going to leave it as-is. After looking at the Internet's advice on home-brew solutions, practically everywhere seemed to be mostly or entirely parroting the same basic advice; this is less than satisfactory to say the least even IF it were sound, which I'm certain it isn't.
    – Graphus
    Sep 20, 2021 at 21:07
  • Brain-worm created. My work here is done... :D
    – FreeMan
    Sep 21, 2021 at 11:27

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