[Favorite tips] Polishing wheels

Increase the size of your from the standard 4" wheel to a 6" wheel.
This will cut polishing time by over 1/3. Changing to a 6" wheel
from an old wheel worn down to 2 =BD" or 3" will cut polishing time
too less than 1/2. This is due to the surface area of the wheels.
Although spinning at the same speed, more surface area moves over the
jewelry in the same amount of time thereby polishing faster. Brad
Simon CMBJ www.BWSimon.com

  Increase the size of your wheel from the standard 4" wheel to a
6" wheel. This will cut polishing time by over 1/3. 

No doubt. But it will also greatly increase the likelihood of pieces
flying off the wheel and getting damaged or lost (those gremlins,
again!). The greater speed means more dragging force and, therefore,
opportunity for mishap. If speed of production is your priority, then
I guess this is the way to go. Otherwise, stick to the smaller
wheels. I actually use an adapter on the mandrel of my polishing
machine that allows me to attach a 1" diameter flex shaft polishing
tool to it. I use it for rouge and I haven’t had a piece go flying
(in that circumstance anyway) in years.


Hi All: Good point, Beth. A smaller buffing wheel is safer up to a
point. The sheer velocity of the outside circumference of a 6" wheel
increases the likelihood of a piece getting pulled out of your hands,
but equally dangerous is a buff that’s worn down too small. Here’s

You need always keep the article being polished below the level of
the spindle to avoid it being “kicked” out towards you. On a large
buff, if you are contacting the wheel where you should, a slight
movement downward (in the direction of the buff’s rotation) won’t come
near bringing the article under the wheel (and coming up the other
side!). On a small buff, it only takes a slight pull on the article
to move it past the point of no return, that is, under the wheel where
you have no control. My advice, when a buff is smaller than 2", it’s
too dangerous to use except for polishing large, flat pieces under the
wheel, and be careful even then as an edge can catch and take it away
from you. Never get near an edge with a buff if that edge is towards
you. Remember, that machine WANTS to take that piece away from you
and either smash it or cream you in the face with it. Hand tools
hurt, power tools maim.

Hope I didn’t scare anybody too much :slight_smile: David L. Huffman


Rouge polishes not by abrasion but by burnishing the metal. A 6"
wheel would be more effective than a 1" wheel, only because the
surface speed of the wheel is greater on the larger wheel. Sure, I
also use a 1" wheel because it will allow me to polish small areas,
but I always finish with a 6" wheel for luster. Since I’m polishing
twice, this may not be the fastest production method, but I like the
final result better than just using the small wheel alone.

Of course, I guess it would also depend on the size of the pieces
that you work on. If you only work on tiny granulated pieces, you
will probably never have the need to use a large wheel. If you work
on silver tea pots, a 10" wheel is a good final choice.

A 1" wheel will also throw less dust into the air than a 6" wheel, so
if you are working in a confined area and your dust collection system
is less that perfect, I think I would go with smaller wheels solely
for health reasons. You should also use a smaller dust collection
hood or a “fish-mouth” hood for maximum efficiency.

If you are having problems with things being pulled from your fingers
by the speed of the wheel, there are several things you can do. I
often use a ring stick to hold rings, or a piece of leather, even a
bent paper clip to hold small “charms.” I have also lined the bottom
and back of my polishing hood with styrofoam. That way, if things do
go flying, they don’t go very far. Often, they just stick to the
foam. The white surface also makes it easier to see the surface that
you’re polishing.

Doug Zaruba

warning on 6" polishing buffs to those newer…pay close attention to
maintaining shape, as you will have rounded corners quicker than you
can say golly-gee-whiz! In addition, the heat generated is quite
noticable…once you get used to it - they are great…just a word of
caution when just starting with a 6" buff instead of 4"

No one has indicated yet at what speed they run their 4" or 6"
buffs. Most comments seem to be assuming that the speed is the same
regardless of the wheel diameter??? It is the surface speed of the
buff that makes the difference.

Ralph Cross
Fremont Jewelers

on the subject of heat when buffing -is anybody aware that water is
ok? it is. keep some water in a dish nearby. well before the piece
gets too hot to handle put it in the water long enough to cool it
down as much as you like. no need to dry it. here’s a hint. where the
metal meets the buff the temperature is very high. here’s proof. put
your finger on the buff and see how much pressure or duration the
finger can endure. you know those awful drag lines which occur when
buffing too long in one direction, a lot of it has to do with
excessive heat. that’s right. the metal gets a lot softer when it
heats up (use power of observation!). particularly in the tiny area
of contact with the buff. that contact area also cools quickly so
it’s not so noticable. please comers, disagree w/ me
if you wish, but testing will prove the truth that water works.


No one has indicated yet  at what speed they run their 4" or 6"
buffs. Most comments seem to be assuming that the speed is the
same regardless of the wheel diameter????? It is the surface speed
of the buff that  makes the difference> 

You’re right. No one mentioned the speed of the motor used for
polishing. I use a motor speed of 3450 rpm for most buffing and
rouge operations. I use 1725 rpm for pumice and for satin finishing.
When I use those tiny buffs on a handpiece, I am using a micromotor
running at 30,000 rpm. That’s the only way I know of to get great
luster using such a small buff.

Doug Zaruba