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Repairing scratched CDs
post Jul 22 2002, 11:43
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From: Sthlm, Sweden
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Does anybody have experience from repairing scratched cd:s? There are a few repair-kits available, but are they really doing their job? The cd:s I would be happy to play/copy are not very badly scratched, but some scratches are deep enough to make EAC (with accurate stream/c2) lose the sync.

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teh roxxors
post May 29 2010, 22:06
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Well, I can't seem to edit my old post, so I'll add this new one:

Fixing Scratched CDs, DVDs and Game Discs

Some folks will swear by retail repair kits, commercial repair systems, Brasso, or even common toothpaste. I have tried them all, and nothing takes the place of a few scraps of sand paper and some inexpensive liquid polishers.

In 2008, a company called ViaMarket came up with Scratch Out!, a liquid abrasive designed for CD and DVD repair. The stuff is wonderful. A 3.5 oz. tube sells for $6, and lasts months, if not years. Get some. Also, pick up a bottle of Meguiar's PlastX Clear Plastic Cleaner & Polish. I buy Scratch Out! from my local Staples office supply store. Meguiar’s products are found in automotive supply stores.

The liquid polishers repair most mild scratches. For severe scratches, I generally use 3M wet-dry emery paper in a number of grits, from 1000 to 8000. 3M has micron-graded emery papers that are of especially high quality, and I'm using those now to great effect.

You will quickly learn which scratches can be repaired with liquid polishers, and which ones require sanding the disc. Whenever you’re not sure, try liquid polishers first—you can always go back and sand the disc later, if needed.

The WORST scratch I've EVER seen was made by an X-Box 360 on my kid's Gears of War disc. The system has a known flaw whereby the laser lens can come into contact with a spinning disc. If I can fix an X-Box 360-scratched disc, I can fix almost anything. I also get a lot of CDs and DVDs from the local library. Many are scratched too badly to play or rip. I'm always able to fix them myself.

Let’s assume you have a badly scratched disc, and liquid polishers alone won’t fix it.

Sanding is done with nearly perpendicular movements and increasingly finer grades of emery paper. You sand in one direction with a rough paper, then sand in a roughly perpendicular direction with a finer paper, repeating this until you've got the finish you desire. On a CD or DVD, you might follow pattern A with 2000-grit, pattern B with 2500-grit, pattern A with 3000-grit, pattern B with 4000-grit, and so on.

Because of the way data is encoded to and read from an optical disc, radial patterns A and B are best for sanding. Sanding in other directions may leave behind small circumferential scratches to interfere with the normal operation of your CD, DVD, or game player.

I like to sand discs on a smooth, clean countertop, as in a kitchen or bathroom. I clean my work area off, then wet it (the water protects the label side from scratches). I run water over both sides of the disc, and set it label side down on the wet surface. I wet my emery paper before using it. Everything needs to stay wet. Try to keep water on the disc as you work.

A 2000-grit emery paper will remove most bad scratches, but especially horrid ones may require the use of 1500 or even 1000-grit paper. I do not recommend using anything more abrasive than 1000-grit paper.

Start with 2000-grit and evaluate the results. If scratches do not quickly vanish, consider using a coarser grit. Slowly rotate the disc with your off hand while sanding back and forth, making a few full rotations.

After working the scratches out with the rough paper, switch to the next finer paper and change the angle of your sanding, switching to pattern B, above. Repeat the process using progressively finer grit emery papers for the best results. Usually, I work all the way up to a micron-graded 8000-grit paper. I rinse and dry the disc when finished. Sanded discs are going to look hazy. This cloudy haze will prevent the disc from being read, so the next step is to remove the haze.

Scratch Out! is the best thing for removing light hazing. Do not follow the bottle’s printed directions—follow mine, instead. The printed directions instruct you to wipe the disc clean, presumably with a dry cloth, as if you were waxing a car. This only causes a lot of extra scratching and hazing.

Use the liquid polishers at a dry work area. I like to put the disc’s label side down on a clean sheet of paper near the edge of my desk for the next procedure. Apply a fairly generous amount of Scratch Out! to the disc and polish with a clean scrap of cotton cloth, using the elliptical pattern shown in figure C (work in the opposite direction if you are left-handed). Slowly rotate the disc with your off hand while you work. You can use heavy pressure to start, and gradually relax with subsequent revolutions of the disc. Do not continue polishing if the compound begins to dry on the disc surface! Polish only while the compound remains moist! Before it dries, wash the compound off with soap and water. Dry the disc with a clean towel.

Scratch Out! removes the haze left behind from sanding, but leaves light scratches you can still polish out. For that, you will use Meguiar's PlastX Clear Plastic Cleaner & Polish. Return to your dry work area and apply several drops of Meguiar’s to the disc. With another clean scrap of cotton cloth, polish the same way (figure C) as before. You don't have to leave the Meguiar's to dry on the disc—it's not like waxing your car. You basically polish until your cloth has absorbed all the excess goop and the disc is bright & shiny, which doesn't take long at all. Get a good polish on your discs, all the way out to the outermost edges. Buff away any residue with yet another clean scrap of cotton T-shirt when finished.

Your disc should look really, really good—not brand new, mind you, but good, nonetheless. Discs do not need a mirror finish to function perfectly. They need to be free of haze and reasonably free of errant scratches. If it won’t play or rip, you may have to repeat some or all the steps, above. With experience, you’ll tend to nail it the first time. All this may sound like a terrible bit of effort. In reality, it's only about five minutes per disc, depending upon how bad the damage is.

While there are a couple of good (and expensive) commercial-grade disc polishers out there, none of the retail machines you’ll find can do what you do with your own two hands in just a few minutes. Serious scratches require more abrasive action than is available with any retail product. Honestly, every last one is a money-wasting rip-off.

A bottle of Scratch Out! costs six dollars. The Meguiar's costs just a few bucks and lasts years. 3M wet-dry emery paper is very cheap, so don't settle for generic brands, as the abrasive may come off when the paper gets wet, which defeats the entire purpose of wet sanding, doesn't it?

Auto supply and other retail outlets carry the coarser emery papers, while extremely fine emery paper is sold by outfits that deal with jewelers and other artists, such as Rio Grande and Micro-Mark. You may even find it through Amazon.

CDs, DVDs, and console discs are all the same when it comes to fixing scratches. If you can fix one, you can fix them all.

With audio CDs, scratches on the data side (the shiny, reflective side) aren't as serious as scratches on the label side. You're able to sand the working face of a disc because it’s a rather thick layer of plastic. In an audio CD, the actual data layer is closer to the label than the other side. For this reason, a good scratch on the label side can permanently destroy a disc.

That's everything I can think of. By sharing my experience, I hope to save you time and money should you ever need to restore your own DVDs, console, or audio discs.

So go fix some scratches already!
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Posts in this topic
- Emanuel   Repairing scratched CDs   Jul 22 2002, 11:43
- - kennedyb4   Hi. I have repaired probably over 100 cd's by now....   Jul 22 2002, 13:01
- - fewtch   You can also do a search for Novus plastic polish,...   Jul 22 2002, 13:07
|- - mickel   QUOTE (fewtch @ Jul 22 2002, 04:07 AM)You can...   Aug 10 2004, 08:06
- - Emanuel   For my lightly scratched cd:s, I ran down to a loc...   Jul 22 2002, 19:58
- - mijj   I've seen a reference to these on a different mess...   Jul 25 2002, 17:16
- - n68   yup... i have had good experience with toth past...   Aug 4 2002, 15:37
- - john33   In the UK, we have an automotive product called 'T...   Aug 4 2002, 15:46
- - frozenspeed   There's this store by where I live in Vermont, Dow...   Aug 4 2002, 16:38
- - asral   Hi, I repair them with a hadheld small butane tor...   Aug 4 2002, 17:14
- - Halcyon   See this thread at EAC forum for my test results: ...   Aug 12 2002, 21:57
- - asral   Hi, How do you polish a CDR without getting the d...   Aug 12 2002, 22:21
- - Cygnus X1   Another suggestion would be to try ~1500-grit rubb...   Aug 12 2002, 23:18
- - Pio2001   Hi, Halcyon ! Nice to see you, I was just wonderin...   Aug 12 2002, 23:39
- - KAMiKAZOW   Use a polishing machine. If you know an optician, ...   Aug 13 2002, 00:11
- - Oge_user   Maybe you can try to extract the tracks from a cd-...   Aug 27 2002, 19:03
- - fireballuk2001   QUOTE (john33 @ Aug 4 2002 - 02:46 PM)In the ...   Jan 9 2003, 00:31
- - ChS   I've been using several different things for C...   Jan 9 2003, 01:28
- - Personne   Automotive liquid buffing compound works real nice...   Jan 9 2003, 18:14
- - afreeman   Been storing your CDs in a box of rocks? First, e...   Jan 9 2003, 19:29
- - mtkversion   I've read that Brasso metal polish works well ...   Jan 10 2003, 19:59
- - Canar   QUOTE (kennedyb4 @ Jul 22 2002 - 04:01 AM)Hi....   Jan 14 2003, 05:29
- - CRasch   We have a Industrial CD Repair Unit here at Fresno...   Jan 14 2003, 07:19
- - boojum   Going back eons, I remember that the German metal ...   Aug 10 2003, 20:47
- - nbv4   I just rub some turtle wax on the play side, let i...   Aug 12 2003, 03:45
- - gooned   If I get a CD that has a read or sync errors using...   Aug 12 2003, 04:49
|- - MagentaMSI   QUOTE (gooned @ Aug 11 2003, 11:49 PM)If I ge...   Jun 1 2005, 05:44
- - outscape   some toothpastes work, but you have to know which ...   Aug 13 2003, 05:36
- - Infrared-Archer   Side note I did not get any good results with colg...   Aug 13 2003, 09:37
- - Fungus   Many thanks you guys! My totally Mad cd colelc...   Aug 25 2003, 15:49
- - westgroveg   Can anyone explain (in detail) the tooth paste scr...   Jan 11 2004, 07:42
- - rmoody   This is so cool to read all the different methods ...   Jan 11 2004, 08:50
- - NeoRenegade   Don't use the Fellowes scratch repair kit. Whi...   Jan 12 2004, 19:37
- - QuantumKnot   QUOTE (Oge_user @ Aug 28 2002, 04:03 AM)Maybe...   Jan 14 2004, 13:20
- - RaWShadow   Try some of this stuff http://www.cdfreaks.com/new...   Jan 14 2004, 14:09
- - DreamTactix291   QUOTE (QuantumKnot @ Jan 14 2004, 07:20 AM)QU...   Aug 10 2004, 08:22
- - Never_Again   I'm willing to bet that the brand name makes a...   Aug 13 2004, 18:25
- - DonP   With the long list of solutions, they all boil dow...   Jun 1 2005, 12:35
|- - ATWindsor   QUOTE (DonP @ Jun 1 2005, 03:35 AM)With the l...   Jun 1 2005, 13:15
|- - jaybeee   QUOTE (DonP @ Jun 1 2005, 12:35 PM)In a pinch...   Jun 1 2005, 13:23
|- - DonP   QUOTE (jaybeee @ Jun 1 2005, 07:23 AM) Maybe ...   Jun 1 2005, 13:51
- - beto   sorry, I don't want to hijack this thread and ...   Jun 1 2005, 14:09
- - kotrtim   QUOTE i have had good experience with toth paste.....   Jun 1 2005, 18:26
- - teleguise   Well seing this thread is alive and kicking in 200...   Aug 10 2005, 21:22
- - callmeace   I found that 'spitting' saliva on scratche...   Oct 2 2005, 06:10
- - ConCave   Use Brasso i had over 20 cds that were strached to...   Oct 16 2005, 16:16
- - odyssey   Has anyone tried the Disc Repair Pro Kit or even k...   Aug 29 2006, 12:10
|- - Rivers1080p   QUOTE (odyssey @ Aug 29 2006, 13:10) Has ...   Sep 6 2006, 17:25
- - odyssey   QUOTE (Rivers1080p @ Sep 6 2006, 18:25) I...   Sep 6 2006, 21:54
- - Eli   Try this thread, its a bit newwer: Review: CD Rep...   Sep 6 2006, 23:10
- - greynol   Toothpaste and turtlewax gets the job done a hellu...   Sep 6 2006, 23:17
|- - bhoar   QUOTE (greynol @ Sep 6 2006, 18:17) Tooth...   Sep 7 2006, 00:21
- - rudefyet   I have a can of Brasso, but I can't get good r...   Sep 7 2006, 01:54
- - odyssey   QUOTE (bhoar @ Sep 7 2006, 01:21) QUOTE (...   Sep 7 2006, 08:20
|- - bhoar   QUOTE (odyssey @ Sep 7 2006, 03:20) I...   Sep 7 2006, 08:38
- - odyssey   I went down to a local store asking for the DiscDr...   Sep 15 2006, 09:09
- - pepoluan   All: Do you think the information in this thread i...   Sep 15 2006, 12:52
- - Never_Again   Yes, under the "Urban folklore" heading....   Oct 5 2006, 03:58
|- - teh roxxors   I apply Brasso with a piece of T-shirt. It's ...   Dec 27 2006, 01:46
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (teh roxxors @ Dec 26 2006, 19:46) ...   Jan 5 2007, 07:33
|- - bhoar   QUOTE (krabapple @ Jan 5 2007, 01:33) You...   Jan 6 2007, 19:36
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (bhoar @ Jan 6 2007, 13:36) QUOTE (...   Jan 6 2007, 23:20
|- - bhoar   QUOTE (krabapple @ Jan 6 2007, 17:20) The...   Jan 8 2007, 08:13
- - janger   I got pretty good at this a few years ago and ppl ...   Dec 27 2006, 04:19
- - maggior   I restored some really scratched up CDs from the l...   Dec 27 2006, 06:38
|- - teh roxxors   Yeah, I've "ruined" discs with tooth...   Dec 28 2006, 22:53
- - cableguy   had anybody tried to repair dvd's using these ...   Dec 28 2006, 23:22
|- - bhoar   QUOTE (cableguy @ Dec 28 2006, 17:22) had...   Dec 29 2006, 03:13
|- - bhoar   Lastly, you can probably use one of these devices ...   Dec 29 2006, 04:00
|- - teh roxxors   You know, you are being ripped off paying good cas...   Jan 5 2007, 00:22
- - cableguy   I tried repairing a lightly scrached dvd this even...   Jan 5 2007, 03:48
- - Eli   As I stated in my other thread (link above) the Di...   Jan 6 2007, 20:24
- - mynamehere   Just to let people know there are CD and DVD repai...   Mar 5 2007, 19:39
- - sephiroth56068   i figured out a way to fix cd's and cd roms th...   Nov 5 2007, 05:18
- - teh roxxors   Well, I can't seem to edit my old post, so I...   May 29 2010, 22:06
- - teh roxxors   A little update: Staples stopped carrying Scratch...   Jul 2 2010, 03:49
- - greynol   I certainly wasn't the first to mention it, bu...   Jul 2 2010, 06:37
- - Seeking_Lossless   Greynol, seriously toothpaste like Colgate will wo...   Jul 2 2010, 08:45
- - teh roxxors   Toothpastes have mild abrasives designed to polish...   Jul 2 2010, 14:17
|- - Eli   QUOTE (teh roxxors @ Jul 2 2010, 09:17) A...   Jul 6 2010, 04:00
|- - teh roxxors   QUOTE (Eli @ Jul 5 2010, 22:00) QUOTE (te...   Jul 11 2010, 13:22
- - Seeking_Lossless   and how did you know your CD has been ruined? The ...   Jul 2 2010, 14:21
- - teh roxxors   EAC wouldn't rip them without error.   Jul 2 2010, 14:30
- - bilbo   For years here in the US, they have been advertisi...   Jul 2 2010, 16:26
- - greynol   QUOTE (teh roxxors @ Jul 2 2010, 06:17) A...   Jul 2 2010, 18:17
- - Speedskater   QUOTE (bilbo @ Jul 2 2010, 11:26) For yea...   Jul 6 2010, 18:18
- - Meeko   I'm with greynol - a toothpaste like Colgate h...   Jul 11 2010, 17:12

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