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Bench Grinder and Polisher

I am looking at buying a bench grinder to convert to a polisher. I
can’t afford a polishing motor from the jeweller’s supplies store and
so a grinder is really my only option. I am wanting to get a higher
end grinder (which is still substantially cheaper than a polisher). I
have been advised by a couple of local trades tools suppliers that my
best option is a 10" Abbott and Ashby grinder. I was told that they
are a higher quality machine than most of the others and are made in
England as opposed to the others being made in various Asian
countries. (I assume the point being made there was that there is
higher quality control in places like England than there would be in
most Asian factories).

I’ve been looking for info about Abbott and Ashby and haven’t managed
to find a whole lot besides prices in catalogues. I am wondering if
anyone knows anything about the company and their products. Also, is
there any other brand that comes highly recommended by anyone here?

Just to give you all an idea of my situation - I am currently doing
jewellery on the side and working a day job. I hope in the next
couple of years to make jewellery as a part time business and my day
job part time. Then in the next couple of years after that I would
hope to run my own full time business. So, at first I won’t be using
the polisher so much and so often but later on I probably would
be… although, later on (if more funds are available) upgrading or
replacing a worn out machine would probably be an option.


Given the way you spell Jewelry, and your mention of an A&A grinder,
I’m assuming you’re in England somewhere?

I’m in California, so my suppliers won’t be of much help to you, but
hopefully this will.

I started out many moons ago in a style similar to yours. What I did
then, and have done again since, was to by a fairly cheap 6" bench
grinder, one of the generic Chinese type sold at your typical
home-improvement store. Remove the wheels, wheel guards, tool
rests…pretty much everything except the motor itself and the base.
(It’s nicer if it’s one of the ones that has a little task light on
a bit of flex: makes great buffing light.) Then you get a set of right
and left handed buffing mandrels (The threaded bits) to fit the motor
shaft. (Typically 1/2" in the US, but in the UK…?) Mount them, and
you’ve got reasonably decent little buffer for about $50. (Here in
the US anyway. UK prices will be different.) The reason I say use a
cheap import grinder is that they’re plenty good enough for this. The
first one I did this with lasted about 10 years that way, and finally
died because the on-off switch broke, and I didn’t feel like
rebuilding it. The motor was just fine. Much of what makes a good
grinder is in the guards and the tool rests…which you’re going to
throw away. Don’t waste any money on them.

Best of luck,
Brian Meek.


You don’t need to go to that trouble either. For the first 6 years
or so that I did jewellery making I used an old washing machine motor
that a boyfriend put an on/off switch on for me. After that I noted
which way the motor spinned ( right or left) I bought a spindle at
the jewellery supply for about $7.00. Since then I built a little
wooden cabinet around it and now (15 years later) use it when I
teach classes in the towns around Calgary as most of them have no
equipment either.

Karen Bahr
Karen’s Artworx

Have you considered used equipment? The kind of polisher you want,
silent, good quality jewellry kind has been used by dental workshops
for the past 70-80 years. I have one polisher bought new at a
jewellry supplier and an ex-dentistry which I use most of the time
because at 1/3 of the price I got a machine with light, hood and
dustcollector. I also have a grinder of the not-so-cheap German
built-15 lbs. kind which I use as a grinder. It’s fairly silent.
Smaller, cheaper ones aren’t. If you decide to go for used equipment
just listen to it, smooth startup, no rumbling sounds from bearings
should be noticeable and the overall state is what to look for. For
what it it is worth that’s the way I go. Good luck hunting!


Hello Freak Style,

  I am looking at buying a bench grinder to convert to a polisher.
I can't afford a polishing motor from the jeweller's supplies store
and so a grinder is really my only option. 

I must share my personal experience using a grinder as a polisher.
Long story short, I realized my folly when I began coughing up dark
mucus after an hour of polishing on my grinder. Not to mention the
lovely black dust that was coating everything. The grinder has no
powered exhaust system with a filter to collect the fine particles
generated during polishing. If you are in an enclosure, you’ll be
breathing those airborn particles.

If you insist on polishing this way, do it outside and wear a
close-fitting dust mask and goggles. Save your money to buy a
ventilation/filtering system ASAP. Your lungs will thank you. The
other part of this story is that a grinder motor doesn’t rotate as
fast as a polisher and tends to lug down in use. That means more
time to achieve a decent polish - more exposure to particulates in
the air.

Heck, buy an inexpensive vibratory tumbler from a re-loading
supplier and get Judy Hoch’s book on tumbling techniques The tumbler and book are
an excellent investment that can help you do more with less and
reduce your use of that polisher!

We want you to grow old in good health.

Judy in Kansas,
who is hoping the folks in Louisiana and Mississippi are OK and
recovering quickly after the hurricane.

by the way, i was in loew’s, in the new jersey area and saw a
three quarter horsepower dust collector for 89usd, probably sucks
like crazy, approx six hundred cfm, true not a high end torit with
metal collection tray, but it will leave no dust that’s for sure,

Judy and all.

Just thought I would through my 2 cents in here. Judy, you make a
very good point. Yes, you breath in all that stuff, Silica dust.
Have you seen the MSDS sheet on white diamond compound? If not, go to
the Rio Grande web site and take a look. Read it and keep it on file.

The other thing you may not have considered, like your health, is how
much metal you are going to loose. If you are doing copper it may not
add up to that much financially but silver and gold. That’s another
story. If you use a bench grinder, before you sit down and polish for
an hour on your gold ring, do this. Take a dollar out of your wallet
and flush put it on your bench and burn it with your torch till it is
only ashes. Of course that’s not going to happen but it is kind of
what you are doing. You should be cleaning your shop, the filters
from your buffer and all the dust it creates and saving it in a 5
gallon paint bucket. When it is full, send it in to the refiner. Wait
3 weeks, and then cash the check they send you, and buy more tools!
Cool isn’t it.

The last time I sent my refining in, I had a check for over
$4,600.00. That buys a lot of metal and tools. It even pays for a
real nice buffer. You will never collect all that money from a bench
grinder cause you will never see all the dust you track out. Your
health will thank you later.

This isn’t a place to skimp on tools. Be smart, be safe.

Phillip Scott G.G.
Technical Support & Sales
Rio Grande

I just bought the spindles for a double-ended motor that I have. One
right, one left. I am also considering making the shrouds for the
buffer, and adding a fan of some kind to suck away the dust and
such. I only have the commercial models to look at.

Is all this necessary? Could I forgo the suction fan? I don’t think
I can forgo the shrouds, the buffer I used at my nightschool course
threw off buffing compound something fierce.

I can make the shrouds and build in a ventilation fan, but that
makes the whole thing take forever to build, and then makes it
massive for storage. I only have a small shop that has to do many
different things, it’s not set up for jewellery all the time.


Does a standard (hardware store) bench grinder have the necessary
rpm’s to be a polisher? I always thought grinders were considerably
slower than polishing motors.

Janet in Jerusalem

Hello Janet,

You asked, “Does a standard (hardware store) bench grinder have the
necessary rpm’s to be a polisher? I always thought grinders were
considerably slower than polishing motors.”

Your thinking is correct. If one checks the motor spec plate, the
rpms should be listed. My grinder rotates at 1750 rpm and my polisher
rotates at 3600 rpm; therefore, the polisher motor turns about twice
as fast as the grinder motor. (No doubt other motors have different
speeds.) The other noticeable difference is that the grinder motor
(at least budget models) doesn’t maintain the rpm speed when one
tries to polish with it - I’d say the motor “lugs” down. That means
although grinder unit does polish, it takes more time than the

I was SOOoooo happy when I got my polisher and put the grinder back
to its intended use.

Judy in Kansas, where evening are cooler. Days are still hot.


Buffer & Polishers have a higher RPM (usually 3450) but lower noise

Kenneth Singh


I use a standard hardware grinding motor as a polisher with great
success. It is not quite as good as proper polishing motor, but if
you are working on a budget then it is more than effective. I would
advise, however, that you buy yourself a set of the threaded spikes
which allow you to change polishing mops quickly. On my set up I have
a polishing spike on one side of the motor and a medium artifex wheel
on the other, which works out pretty well. One thing it will not do
well is flat surfaces, which I tend to just do by hand against old
rags, leather off cuts and bits of wood.

As to dust extraction, all I use at present is a set of cardboard
wine boxes arranged so that they shroud the wheels and catch the
worst of the dust, one day I shall rig up something a bit safer. In
my defence, I am a very low volume producer so only polish every
month or so, and as I bike to work in London every morning, inhaling
too much dust in the shop every now and then is pretty low on my
personal risk portfolio.

Chris Penner
chris at