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This is a question regarding buffing. I’m presently regaining the
expertise in jewelry making that I held 20 years ago, while in
graduate school. Regarding buffing, my problem is that my finished
pieces (silver) have, for want of a better word, “buffer tracks” on
the metal. In other words, rather than a fine, mirror shine surface, I
can see where the buffing wheel went.

I buff with tripoli first, then for the final buffs, I use rouge. I
use the hard felt wheel rather than the soft layered wheel because the
softer wheel buffs away the areas I want the oxidized (with liver of
sulfur) areas to remain.

Any suggestions?
Thank you very much.
Sara Colburn

Sara - Make sure you’re moving the piece around alot during buffing.
If you leave it too long in one place you’ll get those "buffing waves"
you’re referring to.

  • Wendy

this is what works for me I use a three step polishing process. First
is medium bobbing compound with a hair brush. Second - white diamond
with treated muslin buff (6" razor edge) third - red rouge with soft
muslin buff. I then retouch areas as needed with Griffith silver
black. Just my way, I guess Let me know if you try it

Sara, It’s important to make sure that you don’t have contamination of
the tripoli on your rouge buffs. You can clean the piece between
tripoli & rouge to help avoid this, also keep your buffs & compounds
away from each other.

I would suggest a soft buff for the rouge. If you want to keep the
oxidized parts dark, get a buff with a lot of stitching for the
tighter pattern. These can work a lot like the felt, but conform just
enough to leave less flat spots too.

Hope this helps!

Use a soft tripoli wheel and “cross hatch” your buffing motion in all
directions. Constant movement is necessary for mirror finish. I then
would go to white diamond then rouge ,again with the soft wheels.Don’t
be afraid to load up the rouge on your wheel. To help maintain the
oxidized areas you can texture them prior to oxidation if overlay do
this before overlaying. If you want a mat black finish in these areas
you will need something other than liver of sulpher but, I find they
will blast out or be lost when cleaning with a steamer or utrasonic.
Sam ,Tucson

Sara, you could try the 3M polishing papers (available from Stuller).
These are cloth-like paper in 5 or 6 different grits, all very fine,
which will produce a fairly high polish when used in succession from
fine to very fine… I’ve used them on gold, silver and platinum all
with good results. A selvyt cloth touches it up for a good finish.
It’s not the fastest method as it’s all done by hand. Also, I’ve had
some luck removing very fine scratches from gold and silver by doing
my final buff with a clean buff, meaning no rouge at all, just what’s
left on the piece from the buff with rouge. I call this my
"spit-shine". I hope this helps. Sharon Dillon

Hello Sara! Buff tracks sometimes happen when you put too much
compound on the wheel, or when compound has accumulated over the
buffing wheel (when you can’t see the material, it’s because there is
too much compound on it… it happens to me sometimes…). When that
happens, use on old wood file to clean the wheel. Accumulation is a
result of the compound “cooking” on the wheel. Pressing too hard on
the wheel with your piece procudes heat that glues the compound
which, with time, leave buff tracks.

A good trick that leaves no buff tracks is making circular moves with
the piece when buffing, instead of staying at the same spot or moving
sideways. The last trick I could give you is to change the position
of the jewel on the wheel, so that you can’t tell in what way the
buff went.

Hope that helps!
Benoit Hamel

Dear Sam , I have found that less Rouge works much better then more,I
find I get a waxy kind of finish with too much rouge. With a very
light charge of the wheel I get a great bright finish. With Red the
wheel is just barly pink and with green just a touch will do.
Peace Karl/@rita_anita_linger

All, My friend and I used to fabricate a lot of sterling silver
jewelry in south western design. Many 100s of pieces were made this
way. All the pieces had darkened areas using liver of sulfur. To
avoid polishing streaks and keep dark areas dark we proceeded as
follows. We always made 5-10 pieces at a time. All sawing, bending,
rolling were done prior to soldering. In between soldering the piece
was cleaned and polished. It only takes a minute and you do not bake
on residues. Our polishing wheels were stitched muslin and we kept
them clean using and old file to clean them. Use very little
polishing compound (we used ZAM). Clean the piece using a tooth
brush and house hold ammonia. After the final soldering, clean the
piece, polish it, clean it again. Warm the liver of sulfur and heat
the piece separately. Place the warmed piece into the warm liver of
sulfur. Yes, the entire piece. Leave it in the liver of sulfur until
the desired color is reached. Remove the piece dry it off
completely. We used an old hair dryer. Running a clean buff at
approximately 800 rpms, polish the large exposed areas of silver
until they have a mirror finish. We cleaned our buff often as the
liver of sulfur patina we polished out contaminated the buff. In the
small areas we wanted to polish the exposed silver while keeping the
recessed areas black. We used a flex shaft with medium felt wheels
and 14,000 diamond paste. A light touch is required and the areas
are quickly polished. A final clean up with ammonia and the pieces
are finished. Using this system we could complete about 5-10 rings a

Gerry Galarneau

What I’ve done is polished to a high shine, then blackened with
Griffinths black patina. I then take a flat polishing stick with the
last polishing compound used, and by hand, I polish off the patina I
don’t want. It doesn’t take that long to do, and the results are excellent.