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Achieving various finishes


#1

Hi all, I find myself working a little backwards today, having to
depletion gild some sterling pieces on which I exposed firescale.
(Too much detail on them to simply polish it away) And I am thinking
that I really need to standardize my steps for creating various
finishes. I have caught myself doing things differently, or in a
different order, to achieve similar finishes. I know that a poorly
executed finish can take away from a well constructed piece. I really
would like to improve my skills in this area and request any advice
or tips you all can offer. What are your favorite finishes? In what
order to you perform the steps to achieve them? Have you discovered
any new products to help you achieve a finish? (Like 3M wheels?) The
finishes I am thinking of standardizing at the moment aRe:

  1. The traditional high polish- this I do pretty consistently with
    the finer and finer grades of sandpaper, tripoli, white rouge, red
    rouge

  2. A low polish- this is what I am calling a finish I give to more
    oxidized pieces, sometimes to mokume. It has shine but is not a
    gleaming mirror finish. This could be brought up with some light
    polishing at the polishing machine wheel or hand polishing. Has more
    texture, more earthy.

  3. Brushed finish- this is a softer finish done with a fine steel
    brush. Brings a burnished shine and fine scratch texture.

I think where I get out of order sometimes is on oxidized pieces. I
finish constructing a piece and then sulpher it. I then remove alot
of the darkened areas with a fine ScotchBrite pad. I try to leave
dark in the recesses evenly. I have tried going directly to the
polishing wheel with darkened pieces but it does not remove the
oxidation evenly and then I still end up having to ScotchBrite. If
the Scotch Brite has left too many scratches I might go over it with
fine grade sandpaper. Then on to low or high polishing steps.

I feel there is probably better techniques I could be using. I also
make a few dimensional pieces that are hard to polish any other way
than by hand. Any tips for better hand polishing or with the flex
shaft? I appreciate any thoughts you all have to offer. Sorry so
many questions at once but this is such a crucial part of good
jewelry design.

Thank you- Carrie Nunes
http://www.metalpetalsworkshop.com/


#2

Carrie - I looked at your website to see what kind of things you
do. IMHO you are working too hard. The soft finish that you have on
your work would be easily produced with mass finishing techniques.

For those pieces that you oxidize, apply the oxidization right after
construction. Then run a batch in a vibratory tumbler with a medium
abrasive media. You will have an even fine matte finish which can
be left as is, or brass brushed.

For your high polish, you can use any of several burnishing media -
ceramic beads, steel, or even a rouge charged wood chip mixture.

All of these techniques are repeatable, safe and efficient. Stones
are set after all tumbling is complete.

Judy Hoch


#3

Judy, I just read your reply to Carrie and I have a question. When
you say to run the jewelry with a med abrasive after you have
oxidized, does this mean the med. abrasive will remove most of the
oxidation leaving it in the recessed areas only? If so, what would be
the best time table on this run? Thanks Mary Ann


#4

Hi, Carrie- There are a couple things you can try. My favorite is to
oxidise, the rub with ultrafine steel wool (like 0000). The harder
you rub, the more shine you’ll get, and the fewer visible scratches.
Remember–not coarse steel wool! For shinier highlights, then go to
the buffer, with a firm wheel so you don’t go into the recesses.

A newer alternative which gives you great control over how much
black you remove and where-- use those new 3M radial bristle discs
for the flexshaft. The finest or second-finest would be the place to
start. You’ll still probably need to buff your highligts, depending
on how much contrast you want. HTH!

–Noel


#5

Thank you Judy for your speedy response, and to answer your
questions. I am finishing sterling silver castings, about the size of
a quarter, that are domed slightly. These castings have designs
stamped into the metal on one side only( done in the master, which
was fabricated). I antique them, but then must remove most of it
before I tumble finish…and this is a real pain. I have had to
resort to using an abrasive wheel to remove most of the oxidation and
this takes too much time for production items.

I just bought a new 6 qt. barrell tumbler - Lortone, so now I will
have a better tumbler as before this I was merely using a small
double tumbler from Rio. I use the tumbler now for final finishing
only, using stainless steel shot because I purchased and magnetic
polisher this summer and am still learning about it, but have not
been successful in obtaining a high mirror polish with it. I love it
for the initial polishing stages, however it too does not remove
oxidation, for which I use heated liver of sulfur.

I have somehow misplaced your booklet yet I do not remember you
saying anything about how to remove oxidation using the tumbler
method for finishing. There must be a way because you do see
commercial jewelry finished with an antique look. Any thoughts and
help will be appreciated. Thank You Mary Ann


#6
    I feel there is probably better techniques I could  be using.
I also make a few dimensional pieces that are hard to polish any
other way than by hand. Any tips for better hand polishing or with
the flex shaft? 

Carrie, you might investigate the nail finishing sticks and bars sold
in drugstores and beauty supply shops. These are stiff sponge backed
abrasives. The grits start at the equivalent of 60, and go through a
range of extremely fine. They have enough resiliency to not flat spot
detail, but enough stiffness to ride over curved areas without
digging into recessed and oxidized areas. They’re easy to hold onto
and maneuver as well. They do great satin finishes as well. You will
find a better selection at a beauty supply. The sticks can also
be cut to shapes, say, like a pointy end.


#7
   For those pieces that you oxidize, apply the oxidization right
after construction.  Then run a batch in a vibratory tumbler with a
medium abrasive media.  You will have an even fine matte finish
which can be left as is, or brass brushed. 

I have found that tumbling pieces in steel shot to polish, and then
putting them back in the plastic media gave me the matt look I
wanted. Can’t describe it, it’s a better look for the pieces I do.