Instructables has written another quick how-to on using Brasso metal polish to resurface and remove scratches from a CD/DVD. This method is probably worth to try when you have a CD which you cannot read data from because of the scratches. When you use Brasso on the CD, you are scraping away the CD surface to make the scratches smaller:
… Take some of the brasso and pour it onto the CD. Please be careful with the Brasso, and only perform this in a well ventilated area. I was making this guide at at the office, and forgot about the fumes. I had to polish the CD in the stairwell as I would have fumed out my co-workers otherwise.
Use the paper towel pieces to polish the CD. Polishing is ideal in straight strokes from the center of the disk to the outside so you polish perpendicular to the tracks on the disc. Because I was short on time, I used small circular motions similar to how I’d polish a car. Take your time with this. Add Brasso when it dries or gets pushed off the CD. Continue this process for about 15 minutes.
You should feel the abrassiveness of the Brasso on the CD as you are doing this. If not, then use a different papertowel. The brasso is removing part of the plastic from the disc not adding to it. You are actually scraping away part of the CD which makes the existing scratches smaller…
Good way to try when you desperate to get your data back – but of course, this is at your own risk.
Re-surfacing CDs so they work again – [Instructables]