I’m new to metalsmithing and am working on my technique for
buffing/polishing sterling silver jewelry pieces. Flat pieces,
nothing fancy. When I come to the part where I buff with tripoli,
that step seems to create scratches. Let me describe what I am doing
in hopes that someone with experience can help me.
I use a Dremel tool with a flex shaft attachment. I use rubber or
silicone wheels, starting with coarse, then medium, fine, extrafine.
I use a loupe between each wheel buffing to make sure that all
scratches are removed. What I see at this point are smudge-like
swirls, which correspond with each section i have done, but no
Then comes the tripoli. I use a yellow treated muslin buff about an
inch in diameter, with 2 rows of stitching. I use a circling motion
to cover each area. I’ve tried using a lot of tripoli, where i get
lots of black gunk on the metal, and i’ve tried smaller amounts
where I hardly get black gunk at all. Yesterday I put a brand new
buff on the flex shaft. I’ve done it at the number 2 speed of the
dremel (5000 to 8000 rpm) and I’ve done it faster (9000 to 11,000
rpm). the dremel can go up to 35,000 rpm.
Of course, if I try to polish it with rouge after the tripoli
buffing, all the imperfections show.
I would really appreciate some advice from experienced jewelers!