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Damn Zam

I recently purchased a pound can of Zam to use as a final polish
for silver / gold rings. No instructions accompanied the
purchase. I use it on a small cotton / muslin buff on a rotary
tool (dremel type). I just put a little on the buff and go at it
using a medium speed. I wash the item afterward in hot water and
detergent. Am I doing it correctly. The results are not

Bob B

Although some say that Zam can be used for a final polish on
silver, I would consider it to be an intermediate. I would
follow it up with a high quality red rouge. If you are polishing
with a small buff on a Dremel you may find it difficult to get
as fine a finish as you can get using full size buffs. Try to
use the finest buff you can and use the rouge sparingly with a
light touch.


Zam is not meant to be a finishing polish, that’s what rouge is
for. It is known for its cutting ability, to soften down
roughness and take out scratches. It will also eat the hell out
of detail if you aren’t careful. Use Zam as a second-to-finish
polish, wash, then finish with rouge for a good smooth luster.
Also, please note that using water and soap doesn’t work nearly
as well as using a mixture of ammonia, dish detergent and water
cuts the grime off more effectively. If you heat up this
mixture a little bit, then soak the piece, it will be a snap to
clean. You won’t need to touch it with a cloth or toothbrush,
thereby eliminating tiny hair-fine scratches in your new finish.


Bob,I really like Zam a lot better than rouge. I think that it
brings up a shine quicker and it sure is a lot cleaner to use. I
don�t like to buff anything with anything using such a small buff
as a Dremel uses. I think it spits stuff back into my face and
that the surface produced is not even. If I have a tiny space
between or around things, I will hand burnish. Of course, I also
swear not to make anything that has such tiny close spaces. As I
understand it, the Zam has a burnishing action, not a cutting
action. It does not replace tripoli or bobbing compound let alone
good sanding.

Marilyn Smith

THANKS! I truly appreciate the advice given! I’ve been using
ZAM as a finishing product . . . no one has ever told me to use
anything else!

regards, fish

I have been a polisher for 9 years and rarely have had trouble
polishing silver just by uing gray star trip and red rouge the
key has been very little charge on the buff and very little
pressure the hotter the peice gets the more stuff sticks to it
and ruins your shine and cleaning in between trip and rouge
always helps on anything you polish.

A pound can! If you’re just using a dremel with a little muslin
buff, you might have nearly a lifetime supply.

There are some who swear by Zam and others who swear by rouge.
Me, I like red rouge best. It puts on a finer finish than the
Zam. Although if I screw up when setting a stone such a
turquoise or malachite I use Zam so I don’t ruin the stone’s
polish. However, if you’re not using bobbing or tripoli or white
diamond first, you can polish till the cows come home and the
result won’t be very good. Like Marilyn I don’t like to use the
foredom or dremel for buffing. Those little muslin buffs just
fly apart with most of the little threads landing in the furthest
reaches of my studio and up my nose (even with a mask on). Why
don’t you build your own polisher using a bench grinder. A month
or so ago there were some directions out there. If you can’t
find them, e-mail me and I’ll send my own directions for making
one, including a hood. I’ve been using mine for over five years.
I have two, each with two buffs. One for coarse grits (usually
bobbing and tripoli) and the other for Zam and rouge.

Instead of detergent and water, try using a warm solution of Mr.
Clean and water. I like it better than ammonia: 1) works better
2) doesn’t smell so awful 3) easier on hands. Keep in a crock
pot that has an adjustable thermostat (so it doesn’t get too
hot). Let your piece soak for 5 min or so and even bobbing
compound usually just rinses away.

Marilyn, I agree that those little buffs for the flexshaft make
a terrible mess, and leave a really uneven surface on large
areas. The one piece I was forced to finish that way, because the
buffer with inaccessible, came out looking horrible on the back.
In the end, I had to pull out the hammer handpiece and texture
the whole thing.

I do have a solution for getting into a lot of those hard to
reach spots though. I’ve reshaped a bunch of new muslin buffs to
fit my needs. Trim them to knife-edges to get into crevices, or
cut a deep notch out of the middle of a buff to work around
findings or decorative areas. I use one of these notched buffs to
use tripoli right up around pin findings. Haven’t buffed one off


Hi. Brett.
What really isZam. Can you tell me what is it chemically?

I still like Zam as a finishing product. I admit that the metal
needs to be scratch free. I use it on silver if that makes any

Marilyn Smith

Marilyn, I’m wondering, would rouge as a final polish with a
full sized buffer result in better finish than would Zam?


 Those little muslin buffs just fly apart with most of the
little threads landing in the furthest reaches of my studio and
up my nose (even with a mask on).    

Thanks for the . . . I thought I was just buying bad
little buffs! After using them, we had to dust the furniture much
more often!

   Why don't you build your own polisher using a bench grinder.
 A month or so ago there were some directions out there. 

You can make a real good cheap polishing setup using an old
dryer motor. Tim McReight’s Complete Metalsmith tells how though
he neglects to mention you have to start the motor turning by
hand. I’d like to sock him in the nose for that :slight_smile: as the
motor will burn out if you don’t. A polishing spindle will fit
right on if you get the right size…Dave Also. you can go to
any electrical motor supply place and find a good powerful used
motor, two speed, for way cheaper than the catalogs sell

Kickass Websites for the Corporate World
Crystalguy Jewelry
Recumbent Cyclist’s Advocacy Group

Hi. Brett. What really isZam. Can you tell me what is it
chemically? Thanks.Rajah

I can’t say for sure but I think the abrasive in it is chromium
oxide. If someone has an MSDS they can say for sure.


The reason I suggest a bench grinder is that it is very easy to
attach two spindles to each grinder. I hate to stop and change
buffs, so I have two grinders, one for coarse and one for fine or
final. You can also go to a pawn shop and pick up a good grinder
cheap. Home Depot usually offers sales on their ginders
frequently for about $36 and you flip a switch to start them. I
set mine up with one switch to start fan, vacuum and buffer.



Thanks for the on the possible chemical nature of
Zam.I will check out the MSDS.



  What really isZam. Can you tell me what is it chemically? 

Zam might be white aluminum oxide or cerium oxide.

I found a good site "The Complete Buffing and Polishing Booklet"


I’ve made lots of machines with old 1/4 or 1/3 horse motors out
of appliances and never had to start one by hand or had one burn
out. Most of them start by themselves and run forever. I have a
couple that look to be at least 30 yrs old. Must have been a
particular motor whose starter wasn’t mounted on the motor.

People who like rouge talk about the �coloring� action. This
difference is something that I can�t seem to distinguish. I use a
rather firm pressure with a firm buff and spend more time with
the bobbing compound than I do with the gray star and more time
with the gray star than I do with the Zam. The Zam buffing is
very fast and I do prefer it to the rouge.



I’m one of those that usually prefer rouge, but not because of
the color, I just seem to get a better polish with it. However,
I’ve never used gray star. I use bobbing, tripoli or white
diamond and then rouge or Zam depending on the piece. If you
would, tell me what you like about gray star. I’m calling in an
order tomorrow and I’m going to get some. Thanks.