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Cleaning Phenolic Wheels


#1

Dear Folks,

I have been taking lessons from an 84 yr. old Gentleman in regards
to Lapidary, Carving, Small Sculptures, & Inlay.

Recently he blessed me with a polishing machine that he built & used
many yrs. ago. This machine is horizontal with 6 phenolic wheels on
it. Unfortunately, he doesn’t remember what grits he had the various
wheels charged with. He was using Diamond Paste for the grits.

My question is: Is there a reasonable way to clean these wheels &
start over with new grits? I searched the archives, read references
to Phenolic, but didn’t find anything about cleaning. I don’t want to
score or damage these wheels in the cleaning.

Thank you for any info anyone may have.

I am not a “young” person anymore, being almost 54, on March 4th.
But it has been great to find a Mentor like Hal, who has been willing
to share freely of his time & expertise. He is just as thrilled as I
am to share & learn. I started out by just going to see his hobby
shop after a chance encounter, & I have been travelling the 80 mi.
round trip every wk. since June '05 to pick his brain. He says “What,
do you think I am going to give you ALL of my secrets?!” I say
"That’s what I am here for!" & we both laugh!

I see folks on this forum have offered this type opportunity. If you
ever get the chance to study under one of the Elders, please take
advantage of it as it is rewarding for both parties beyond
imagination.

Thank you,
Char
www.ejewelryoriginals.com


#2

Hi Char,

My question is: Is there a reasonable way to clean these wheels &
start over with new grits? I searched the archives, read references
to Phenolic, but didn't find anything about cleaning. I don't want
to score or damage these wheels in the cleaning. 

I suppose ‘reasonableness’ is in the eyes of the beholder.

Here’s a couple of ways that might work.

The abrasive grit probably doesn’t extend too far into the phenolic,
so you may be able to sand/grind the outside of each wheel enough to
get below the depth of the grit. Both ways are apt to be a ‘dusty’,
so a respirator of some type will probably be needed

The simplest way would be to place some sandpaper on a backing stick
& hold it against the rotating phenolic wheel. I’d start with a
coarse grit & finish truing up the wheel with a finer grit.

A faster way would be to locate a belt or disc sander or angle
grinder. Turn the lapidary unit on so the wheels are revolving. Then
start the sander or grinder & apply it to the rotating phenolic
wheels. Again if using a sander, start with a coarse grit & finish
with a fine grit.

Dave


#3

Char,

The Graves company sells a Pheonlic spool polisher, See
http://www.gravescompany.com/spool.htm. While I have never used one
I hear they work great.

They say:

  How do I clean my spool polisher to ensure it hasn't been
  contaminated? 

  Sand it with some fine sandpaper while it is running, then
  wipe it down with some denatured alcohol. Should as good as
  new. 

My suggestion would be wash first with soap and water to remove any
loose material and oil that may have been used and then follow their
FAQ. If nothing else you can always ask them using the link on their
webpage

Graves also sells a start up kit of the usual diamond grits on the
spool polisher page.

There is also a member of Orchid that works at / with Graves who may
see this and chime in.

Usual disclaimer, not an employee or any other tie to graves except
that I bought form them once and received excellent service.

Good Luck
Kay


#4

Hi Char,

It is quite possible that your phenolic laps can be re-birthed.
Alternatively, there may be other solutions, as well. I’ve been
involved in lapiidary for well over 40 years now, and there aren’t
too many problems I’ve left to solve. Most of it has been easy, due
primarily to the kindness of others who have gone before me.

If age is the benchmark, I qualify as an elder! And it’s past time to
give it away. Please contact me at wayne(undescore)emery@msn.com,
I’ll give you my phone number, and we’ll get you moving forward
quickly! It’ll be fun!

Wayne Emery


#5

Yup Kay, I’m the Orchadian who works at Graves.

My advice to our friend who has a contaminated spool polisher
is…get a new spool. I don’t have the price at my fingertips but,
we will sell her a new one for a reasonable amount. Send an email to
sales@gravescompany.com we will provide the cost. The spool is an
easy change out.

The reason I recommend changing it is…the phenolic retains the
diamond both at and below the surface. Sanding might remove the
surface grit but not the deeper material. I would hate to think what
might happen to that perfect stone should a stray granual make a mess
of the perfect polish.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2


#6

Rather than trying to clean them I would try to identify the
original grits. get several highly polished cabs (a couple for each
wheel) and compare the scratches (or lack of scratches)

600 grit should be visible
1500 should be visible with a loupe
3000 should resemble a matte finish
8000 should look almost polished
14000 should be polished
50000 should look most highly polished

good luck
Tom


#7

With all due respects to Tom’s suggestion, I would be leary of
trying that. You might actully be able to identify some of the
original grits used on a particular groove but there would still also
be enough doubt that you have the correct grit! It only takes one or
two strays to ruin a valuable stone. I would not take the chance.

Secondly, Wayne’s suggestion about trying to re-surface the spool is
a possibility…however, the spools are turned to a specific
tolerance. Re-surfacing them means cutting the surface thinner on a
lathe. There is, again, no guarantee that the new phenolic surface
will be as durable or accurate as the original.

Once again, I would suggest purchasing a new replacement spool.
Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2.