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About Polishing


#1

Hi,

I am new to polishing. I have the following queries:

  1. I read on a supplier’s website -" Water soluble Red Rouge". How
    does water solubility help?

  2. I have seen different wheels having centres made up of different
    materials like shellac, leather, plastic. What are the roles of
    these different materials

Thanks
Rahul


#2
I read on a supplier's website -" Water soluble Red Rouge". How
does water solubility help? 

I’ve never used it, but I imagine it would be much easier to clean
up your polished pieces with soap and water, or standard ultrasonic
solutions. Most regular rouges are bound with a greasier base, but I
use the degreaser called Simple Green with a toothbrush for a couple
of minutes before the ultrasonic. It works wonders. It’s also better
for pieces containing stones that are risky for ultrasonic use.

I have seen different wheels having centres made up of different
materials like shellac, leather, plastic. What are the roles of
these different materials 

I’m not sure, but I always assumed they were the easiest materials
to bind the wheel’s surface to for use on the polishing motor’s
spindle.

James S. Duncan, G.G.
James in SoFL


#3

Ok, Rahul. That’s it. I guess we just gotta spell it out. LOL… How
to polish depends on what is being polished - that’s part of why
there’s not “hard” answers out there. It is basically a three step
process, though: sanding, polishing and buffing. Each of those could
actually be broken down, too, but I’m trying to keep it simple. The
piece is sanded first, either with sandpaper or “rubber wheels” -
Cratex, Shofu, whatever works. Then you polish it. A basic setup that
almost everybody uses is a 6" muslin buff and some bristle brushes
for the tight spots (wooden hubs, black bristles - sizes are up to
you). Those are charged with either tripoli or white diamond, which a
refined tripoli, basically. It makes no difference which - it’s
whichever you prefer. Greystar is much more aggresive, and you can
use it, but it’s usually used on a splitlap. Then you clean your work,
and use a sewn cotton buff of 6", and bristle brushes again if
necessary. Those are charged with rouge - red, green, white, black.
Or some other things - Zam is great on silver. Personally, I live on
white rouge, and we have some “apricot” colored platinum rouge that’s
great. That’s all there is to it. Work on the lower half of the
wheel, never catch the top edge of the work - you’ll find that out
soon enough, and watch hair, shirtsleeves, etc. There are hundreds of
devices, compounds, etc., but you don’t need those until you think
you do. If you do as I say, above- a muslin buff - they are yellow or
the new blue ones work good. A sewn cotton buff, which will be white.
White diamond, some red rouge, white rouge cuts faster, maybe some
Zam, and you’ll be in business. The polish step (tripoli) is simple -
just about everybody uses some form of tripoli. The buffing is
different, and if you find that your compound isn’t doing it for you,
by all means try another one. The rest of it is skill, and practice.
One tip about that - each step must be complete. You’re not going to
remove sanding scratches with red rouge. Just be thorough, basic
polishing isn’t that difficult.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#4

Rahul,

It might help if you tell us what type of metal you are trying to
polish. There are a lot of different polishing compounds out there
and I have found that everyone has different preferences. Polishing
and finishing was very confusing to me when I first got started but
more because I was trying to fix my many beginner mistakes : ). Now
I usually do 220, 320, 400, and 600 grit sandpaper (Sometimes I use
220 sandpaper and the 3M radial disks for the rest of the series). I
prefer to use bobbing compound and zam as a finish because I like the
look but I used to use white diamond. I believe the polishing
compounds are water soluble so you can wash them off easily with
soap and water. There may be another reason I am not aware of. You
tend to get some compound residue after you polish and I wash mine in
warm soapy water and use a toothbrush to softly scrub off the residue
before putting in the tumbler. The wheels I am most happy with are
the muslim wheels. They are great for picking up the polish and they
get into all kinds of areas. I’m sure there are many preferences on
types of wheels too. I might start off using a series and then try
some others to see which you like best. The compounds are really
inexpensive. I think it’s like $3-$4 a brick and a brick will last
you a long time.

Hope this helps,
Delias ; )


#5

Rahul,

Polishing is not as difficult to understand as many think. A few
simple rules help.

  1. Never try to polish out scratches. If there is a scratch or
    blemish you must first remove it first by filing if necessary
    followed by successively finer sand paper…usually 300, 400 and/or
    600 if the 400 is new and leaves a matt finish. The exception to this
    is simple surface scratches with no depth. These can be polished off.
    Remember, polishing is an abrasive process and as you polish, you
    also remove metal. An experienced jeweler will plan ahead when
    selecting stock to ensure the various clean up and polishing
    processes don’t leave him/her with 26 gauge when 22 was intended.

  2. No matter what kind of polishing compound you use they all
    basically can be referred to as ‘cuts’. First cut will be the most
    coarse such as tripoli or bobbing compount, second cut will be medium
    such as Fabulustor or ZAM but white diamond is considered by many as
    second cut also, etc. Third cut will be the rouges such as red rouge,
    gray rouge etc.

  3. Use the appropriate speed on your buffer lathe. Many people are
    afraid of the machine and use only low speed…around 1700rpm. I use
    3450 almost exclusively unless doing some special job.

  4. Use the appropriate pressure on the wheel. Beginners tend to use
    too little pressure and can’t understand why nothing is happening.
    Use sufficient pressure to obtain a clear surface. If heavy black
    areas appear (called keep) know that the polish is not doing its job
    beneath that area. If keep should appear, just give a firm push
    against the wheel in that area and it will dissappear.

  5. Do not overload your wheel with compound. Using two hands, press
    the compound against the wheel only briefly to apply a light coat.
    Reapply only when the wheel stops cutting. If you do overload the
    wheel, you will need to ‘rake’ it off with a rake. The rake can be a
    narrow board with nails in it that protude about 1/4 inch. This will
    remove excess compound…it also reduces the size of the wheel!

  6. Protect yourself. Wear safety glasses, use a buffing board (a
    slip of wood you can lay flat pieces on whilst you polish so the
    piece won’t bend or get caught in the wheel. You can also use finger
    cotts (leather pads with stretchy material that holds them on your
    fingers). There are other items you can use on your fingers also. DO
    NOT WEAR GLOVES! Gloves tend to get worn through and tear…taking a
    finger with them. Keep all loose items away from the wheel such as
    long hair, dangling jewelry (in fact, don’t wear jewelry while
    polishing as it can be damaged). Use a wooden mandrel when polishing
    the outside of rings so they won’t burn your fingers.

  7. Never present a prong or protrudence against the rotation of the
    wheel! The wheel will grap it, bend it, rip it off, or worse. Always
    present the piece downward – in the direction of the wheel rotation.

  8. Hold the piece firmly lest the wheel grap it from your hand and
    fling it against the back wall of the lathe or out into the room
    somewhere.

  9. Do not mix compounds on a wheel. Always mark your compounds or
    place them in a unique bag, box or somewhere they won’t get mixed up.
    Mark each wheel so you know what compound is on it. Because we have a
    number of teachers using our studio, not all follow these rules and
    we end up with various pieces of a compound but cannot identify it
    (color is not always a sure thing). Keep it all separate some how.

When it comes to what wheel to use, everyone seems to have their own
favorite. Generally, for first cut use a yellow (oiled) stitched
cotten muslin buff. For second cut, a white (unoiled) stitched buff.
For third cut, use a white unstitched buff. These latter tend to come
apart so they are usually held together with a leather, plastic or
even lead center. Felt can be used for ring shanks (inside and out)
but be careful doing large flat areas because they tend to leave
’chicken’ tracks due to uneven wear. Some people prefer wool, some
cotton, etc. Check it out.

Everyone has their own idea of which compound to use when. But if
you follow the above (substituting various compounds for each cut)
you will sort it out in time. One hint though, ZAM is wonderful for
polishing not only silver but also certain stones. Primarily the
carbonates/phosphates…malachite, rhodocrosite, turquoise, etc.,
and certain others horn, black coral, plastic, acrylic etc. But not
the silicates!

Sorry this is so long but its actually a synopsis of my buffing
lecture which takes about 30 to 45 minutes in class. A problem is
there are so many sanding, buffing, polishing etc materials out there
it takes years to learn what to do with what. If you follow the above
rules however, you should have a successful experience.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry!


#6

Hi Don

synopsis of my buffing lecture which takes about 30 to 45 minutes
in class. A problem is there are so many sanding, buffing,
polishing etc materials out there it takes years to learn what to
do with what. 

Thanks so much for the detailed explanation of buffing. I have taken
the equivalent of 2 8-week courses and did not get that much
from the 2 of them put together.

Thanks
Kim Starbard


#7

Good heavens Don. Thank you so much. That is great infomation and I
have copied it into a file for future, constant reference. I know
every lurking novice on the list will appreciate this long post! Keep
’em up.

Lora


#8
Good heavens Don. Thank you so much. That is great infomation and
I have copied it into a file for future, constant reference. 

Lora, Thanks for the feedback. Rahul’s question was a great
opportunity to write tht little tome…something my students have
been pushing me to do for some time. I’m glad you like it and hope it
will be of help.

Cheers, Don in SOFL


#9

I too have found Don’s write-up on polishing both highly informative
and instructive.

On the same topic, I have been given some rubber polishing points
for my Dremel, and have know idea how or when they would be used. Can
anyone throw some light on this please?

Thank you
Pat Waddington


#10
On the same topic, I have been given some rubber polishing points
for my Dremel, and have know idea how or when they would be used.
Can anyone throw some light on this please? 

Excellent for getting into bezels, polishing refining castings or
odd shapes, and smoothing out minor scratches, blemishes and excess
solder on workpieces.


#11

Pat…sorry I didn’t respond sooner…been kind of busy.

Rubber points are great for use in your Foredom/Dremel to so
smoothing or even pre-polish work on curved surfaces, getting down
into settings, etc. Then can also be shaped to meet a specific job by
running them against an Exacto knife blade or against a honing stone.
They come in many different configurations and consistancies however,
and you might have to experiment a bit on scrap metal to determine
what you have.

For example, the Craytex wheels come in different colors and with
different abrasives in them. Be very careful here as some have SIc in
them which can cut metal very quickly and is abrasive to stones.
Others have various oxides or pumice that can be used on stones with
no effect. Othere rubber wheels are silicon rubber with pumice and
are very gentle.

Check out a jewelry supply catalog (Rio has a good selection) and it
will often tell you what a specific color/shape of wheel consists of
and what it is used for. Unfortunately, many manufacturers do not say
what the abrasive is so you must be very careful.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry!


#12

Over the years there are some many different types of abrasives for
polishing. Some come in 3 steps from rough to smooth bright finish.
Some made for certain metals. I feel nothing will work better then a
bar of rouge and a buff.

Andy " The Tool Guy" Kroungold
Tool Sales / Technical
Stuller Inc
Phone 800-877-7777 ext. 94194
Fax 337-262-7791