Polishing is the process of creating a smooth and shiny surface by rubbing it or using a chemical action, leaving a surface with a significant specular reflection (still limited by the index of refraction of the material according to the Fresnel equations.) In some materials (such as metals, glasses, black or transparent stones) polishing is also able to reduce diffuse reflection to minimal values. When an unpolished surface is magnified thousands of times, it usually looks like mountains and valleys. By repeated abrasion, those "mountains" are worn down until they are flat or just small "hills." The process of polishing with abrasives starts with coarse ones and graduates to fine ones.
Main article: Polishing (metalworking)
Other polishing processes include:
Chemical-mechanical polishing, which is used in semiconductor fabrication
Fabrication and testing of optical components
Flame polishing, a type of polishing used on glass and thermoplastics
Ultra-fine, abrasive paste polishing, polishing for soft or fragile work surfaces
Vapor polishing, a method of polishing plastics to optical clarity