Buffing Brand-Newbie Questions

Hello all, I just finished my first paying jewellery job. A customer
wants a tiara and bracelets in brass for a Wonder Woman costume for
Halloween. I had to build a buffer for this job, and it is now
almost complete. I still have to hook the vacuum up, I ran out of
time to do that. But it works!

I am using a stitched buff, pretty hard with tripoli and a very soft
buff with rouge. The lady at the local jewellery supply picked the
stuff out for me.

The hard buff makes it hard to get even coverage on the bracelets, I
keep having lines left on the piece where two passes overlap (or
maybe it’s from passes that SHOULD overlap, but don’t).

Should I use a soft buff for both tripoli and rouge?

When I used the rouge buff, it doesn’t seem to do much. The shine
that I get from the tripoli doesn’t improve much as far as I can

Why is it not improving the shine? I have used the buffer at school
on silver and I could always tell the difference there. We used the
same compounds, but both buffs were soft. Is that it?

Last question, the rouge buff seems to deposit small black lines and
dots on the piece. After I wash and scrub the piece, it looks good
and the black stuff comes off. Why is the black stuff depositing on
the piece? Do I have too much rouge on the buff maybe? I don’t know.

Thanks for all your help, I checked in the archives, but I didn’t
find the answers there.


Last question, the rouge buff seems to deposit small black lines
and dots on the piece. After I wash and scrub the piece, it looks
good and the black stuff comes off. Why is the black stuff
depositing on the piece? Do I have too much rouge on the buff
maybe? I don't know. 

Yep, that’s what that is. Clean your buff using a buff rake or one of
the many substitutes.


Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

Hi Katou.

The ‘black stuff’ on the jewelry you are buffing is excess rouge or
tripoli being redeposited on the work surfaces by dirty wheels.

If you are hand fabricating, tripoli may be unnecessary. It is very
greasy, and unless completely cleaned off, will linger and foul up
your rouge step causing it to be ineffective.

The following technique is unorthodox, but extremely effective, and
once you get the hang of it, fast!

Try using Zam for both scratch removal, and for polishing. Use two
wheels - one on your left spindle, and one on the right. If you only
have one spindle, you can change wheels as needed.

Use 6" yellow treated ‘razor edge’ wheels, load one up with Zam, and
keep it loaded (this works best when you let the compound do the work
and maintain a firm but sensitive hold on your work). This wheel will
be your cutting and polishing wheel.

The second wheel is your cleaning wheel, and will remove excess
compound and keep your workpieces clean.

Split the stitching on the second wheel almost down to the core
(where the wheel goes on to the spindle). this is done by taking a
sharp knife like a box cutter, separating the layers at the center,
and cutting through the first three of the four or five layers of
thread that hold the layers of treated muslin together.

Just pull the thread out with your fingers after it has been cut
through to avoid having it fly in your face when you put the wheel on
the spindle.


Fluff the second wheel by holding an old file against it and fraying
the muslin (best wear a dust mask for this because fibers will be
flying everywhere unless you have a very good vacuum going).

Use the first wheel to polish the piece, and the second to removes
excess compound from the surface. Remember to keep the first wheel
loaded with compound, and to dress the second with an old file when
it starts to collect compound. This system works like a charm, and is
the easiest way to buff I have yet encountered.

Any remaining residue can be gently cleaned off with a soft boars
bristle brush (or a soft bristle tooth brush) and Dawn dishwashing
liquid. Be sure to wear rubber gloves to keep your hands from drying
out, and rinse your pieces thoroughly under running water! Use an old
t-shirt (clean & soft) to gently dry the work pieces.

Good luck!

Michael Rogers
M. M. Rogers Design
Albuquerque NM, USA

Katou, I’d recommend using the softer buff (that should end your
problem with lines being left from the hard buff) with nothing more
than White Diamond compound. On brass, it gives a wonderful shine
that doesn’t need rouge finishing, in my opinion.

If you have black lines and dots coming off on your piece, it may
mean you need to add more compound to the buff, or it can mean that
the buff needs raking.

All the best,
Judy Bjorkman

Hope you got the order done for Halloween, here is some late
thoughts about the buffing. The hard buff would work with tripoli
but the technique is as important as the buffs. Not to mention the
buffing prep. The piece should be sanded with 600 prior to buffing
and prior to the 600, filed and 220. Then while buffing the piece
should be constantly moving in all directions so that the buff
itself doesn’t act like a file and put grooves into the surface. If I
use a hard buff for tripoli I usually use it on overlay pieces then
go over that with a soft tripoli buff, white diamond and rouge on
soft buffs.

Sam Patania, Tucson