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Bench Suction & Polishing Dust

With all this talk of venting of polishing machines, I thought I
would remind you that the polishing dust does contain refineable
material. Think about it. Every time you polish something you
are removing material, and it has to go someplace. If your shop
work is primarily gold, the dust is worth $$$. Last time I sent
off my collection I was paid around $60.00/lb. That was just
from the polishing machine, wiping the walls down in the
polishing room, and a carpet from the same area. Takes a while
to collect enough to be worth the refining, but it beats shooting
it out into never never land. Same goes for collection systems
for the sink drain. Not to mention the occasional stone that
falls out during cleaning. Take a look in the bottom of the
pickle jar. You cut something, little chips collect in small
places, you solder it and toss it in the pickle. Sometimes these
chips come out in the pickle, sometimes they get washed out
during rinsing. Either way, they gotta go someplace. Wherever
they collect, it’s worth saving. The dust on the walls, the
dust on the floor, the carpet you should be wiping your feet on
whenever you leave the shop area. It all contains refineable
material. There again, it will take a while to collect enough,
but after all, it is “found money”. The occasional hobbyist
might take a lifetime to collect enough, but the busy shop should
be able to gather enough every couple years. A good dust
collection system for the polishing station is worth the money!
I paid $1800 for mine 15 years ago - it has paid for itself at
least twice. Clean the machine whenever necc., sweep the floors
occasionally, keep the dust in a plastic bag someplace out of the
way, and someday it will be worth the efort - you just have to be
patient. I still bend over and pick up pennies whenever I see
one on the ground, too (unless it’s tails up, of course). Put
an outside venting system over the casting station, or anyplace
else fumes may be a problem, but keep the dust from the polishing
station if you do much polishing. If you do mostly silver work
you may be collecting for the rest of your life to have enough
worth refining, but so what. “Found money”. Gold is for sure
worth the time and effort. Just stop and think about what is
going on in a jewelry shop environment. Just about everything
that goes on involves removing material in some way. Filing,
sawing, and grinding are the most evident, but even emery paper
should be saved for refining. What do you think that shiny stuff
is? I know a guy that was a gold buyer during the gold boom.
Whenever his boss sent class rings to the refiner he felt it was
necc to have the stones removed first in order to get a better
idea of what the correct weight would be. Well, he never thought
the little emblems in the stones or the stones with gold letters
encrusted on them were worth the aggravation to collect and told
my friend he could have them. Alex took a vacation to Aruba
with the proceeds from the “not worth the effort” stuff. Think
about it.

With all this talk of venting of polishing machines, I thought I
would remind you that the polishing dust does contain refineable

Back in the mid 70’s a building in Providence, RI that had been
a jewelry factory was gutted and the flooring sent to a refinery.
They recovered about $80,000 in precious metals, enough to rehab
the building.

This past spring I purchased a Microstar 2000 bench suction
machine from Gesswein. It gets used during flex shaft grinding
and finishing operations, and while drilling pearls. It is
relatively quiet (my studio mates were vocal about moving the
magnetic tumbler to the basement) and very efficient at filtering
dust. Haven’t filled its filter yet, so I don’t have information
on how long it will take to pay for itself in reclaimed metal,
but I can highly reccomend the unit. If it were a bit less pricy,
I’d be tempted to get a second one to filter the exhaust from my
polishing machine filtration system.

Richard D. Hamilton
Fabricated 14k, 18k, and platinum Jewelry
wax carving, modelmaking, jewelry photography