Any advice welcome. I recently purchased a frosting wheel for my
pendant drill (hobby drill not pro flexshaft). I have, however,
managed to break off all spokes in just two uses. I tried to make
sure I wasn’t exerting too much pressure - I don’t know whether this
is the problem or if it’s the speed of my drill or if it’s just
inappropriate for the size of pieces I’m working with. I’m using it
to frost small sterling silver pendant pieces - well, that was the
intention! Can anyone help? Or suggest a better way of achieving a
frosted or satin finish? I had suggestions of using fine grade steel
wool or a brass brush. (Sorry - still a novice!)
Or suggest a better way of achieving a frosted or satin finish?
It depends to some extent whether you have a flat surface or one
with a lot of detail. For flat surfaces, you can use the foam bars
used for buffing acrylic nails. These are available at beauty
suppliers (like for beauticians) for sure, but just ask any woman
with beautifully manicured nails or a beautician. They might be
called something different in the UK.
Another way that works is to use the scrubbie pads for scouring pots
and pans that have grit embedded in them. They come in different
colors that indicate how agressive they are, with the green ones
being the most common. Just cut several squares out the pad, about 1
inch in size (20 mm?) and stack them onto the screw part of a screw
mandrel. If you happen to know a janitor that polishes floors with a
buffing machine, you can ask them for the center cut out of the pads,
since they throw them away anyway, and you will have various pads
that will achieve a very fine texture to a deep brushed finish. Just
cut out a square and put them on a screw mandrel.
If you don’t have to worry about delicate parts or designs, you can
put the pieces in a rotary tumbler with “sharp” sand (cheap). Along
the same lines you can sandblast them if you access to that type of
If you have a lot of detail you can use 3M’s radial bristle disks
that come in a variety of grits. You can get an idea of what these
look like by going on Rio Grande’s web site, so you can match it with
something similar to a jewelry supplier in your neck of the woods.
They are also available through woodworker suppliers.
A brass brush with very fine bristles will put a very soft and
subtle satin finish on your pieces. Lubricate with some dish soap on
the brush and some water to help spread it. Think of the dish soap
and water as a lubricant.
If the pieces are flat, you can use various grades of steel wool.
Wad up a marble-sized piece in your fingers, and with a bit of
pressure, “brush” in one direction only.
... I recently purchased a frosting wheel for my pendant drill
(hobby drill not pro flexshaft). I have, however, managed to break
off all spokes in just two uses.
I’m not sure if I’m thinking of the same texturing tool but your
mention of the spokes makes it sound the same. Something like this?:
If so I’m guessing that you might be running at too high speed. Your
garden variety pendant drill runs pretty fast and these texturing
tools are usually rated for something like 5000 or 8000 rpm which is
comparatively low. In fact those speeds are at the very lowest end of
what most pendant drills will do, and the cheaper ones often won’t
even go that low.
I have a regular flexshaft too (max 18,000 rpm) but I use a low speed
one (0-5000 rpm) for this kind of work and I’ve achieved very good
results with my wire texturing wheels. And nary a broken wire. I’ve
found that a light touch yields the best results, barely letting the
wire tips impact the surface of the metal.
Low speed flexshafts are very useful and much better for jobs like
this texturing than the regular, higher speed machines. Sanding,
drilling and rotary hammers all benefit from using these lower speed
in The City of Light
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The wire wheels you speak of work well. Couple of tricks.
If you your pendant has a lot of high and low relief detail, I would
not use this particular flexshaft accessory. The wire wheels are best
with low relief and minimal detail. They are best for flat surfaces
or gentle curves. If you have high and low relief, the pins could get
stuck and fly off.
work at lower speeds, say 1/8-/14 of the way on the pedal or
Only the tips should brush the surface. Avoid excess pressure.
Your satin finish should be achieved through overlay of several
strokes, not just one application.
How do you determine your hand pressure on rotary items? Look at
your toothbrush wear. Yes, seriously! If you have to replace your
toothbrush about every 3 weeks, then you are most likely bearing down
with extra pressure. If not, then use more pressure to achieve even
surface abrasion with rotary accessories.
For satin finishes on high and low combined relief, try the large
one inch green Radial Bristle Disc. Use a higher speed but a light
touch. Remember to stack at least three on the mandrel (they like to
party). Less at this strength can cause uneven draglines. This grit
disc is beefy and is great achieving a consistent satin finish. The
flexible bristles conform nicely to high and low relief.
There are other courser “Scotchbrite” style flexshaft accessories
that come in a variety of abrasive strengths which also work. This is
a bit of research on your part, but I imagine that courser is more
what you want.
Personally, I use the wire wheels when I can. The steel wires dig
into the metal just enough to give it a lustrous bite, but also
scatter the light to achieve that perfect satin look.
Please remember, eye protection is a must, plus a dust mask!
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Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio
Can’t say I know what a “frosting wheel” is, but it sounds like it
might be a texturing brush or wheel - Google those words to see one.
(looks like a miniature version of the wheel used in a drill to beat
off paint) If that is the case, it suffers when used at a high
speed. Your drill may not have a slow enough speed. Try using scotch
bright on your surface - there are even some wheels made from it.
Another method is using a coarse craytex wheel or bullet.
Hope this helps,
Judy in Kansas, where it feels like summer today… sweat, drip.
One thing you might try is media blasting. There are a few that can
operate without a cabinet, so you can save some money there. I’ve
heard of jewelers that put the piece in a tube with caps on both
ends and pour some media into the tube and then shake it. Heven’t
tried it, but it might work for you.
james S. Cantrell CMBJ
I agree with the foam bar nail file for frosted or matt finishes.
They are fabulous and only cost 99 cents. Try it, you’ll be a
believer. You will also find many other applications for this tool.
I’m assuming you were using a small accessory that looks like the
much larger paint stripping wheels…small wires attached loosely to
a center core and mounted on a mandrel. The trick to using this type
of tool is to run your flexshaft or other small rotary tool very,
very, very slowly (you will need a tool that has variable speed and a
good rheostat (foot pedal or variable speed control).
You will also have to hold the handpiece of the rotary tool so that
the wires/tines/spokes of the accessory/frosting tool just barely
touch the surface of your piece. Once you get the idea of not putting
too much pressure on the tool and of running it slowly, you will get
a nice frosted finish.
I have been trying to achieve a frosted finish for a long time also,
Claire. I did come to learn that the frosted finish you see in
commercial jewelry, is created by machining (or Laser etching), or
sandblasting. Without having to get so much equipment, I have been
able to create on the bench a very close frosted finish. I use a
"Texturing Brush"; this is the one with the metal wires on it (It is
best to try this on a scrape piece first). Rio Grande has them for
flexshaft, or motor. Get the fine one. Be very careful when using
this, as it will take off lots of metal in a short time, so start off
at a slow speed. Usually it does not create what I call “texturing
lines”, but go in alternate directions with it if it does. After
this, I go to a very fine finishing abrasive buff. Although sold at
most jewelry suppliers, I found a cheaper alternative is the buff
from Dremel, which can be found at most hardware and discount stores
that sell Dremel stuff. The one to use is the #512, and it is purple
in color. Go over the texture finish lightly, and in alternating
directions, until you get an even and fined looking finish (you will
want to take off or “thin out” the heavy texturing), but also do
lightly and evenly. Last is to pre-polish, with either Zam, or a
pre-polish abrasive wheel. Again go lightly to maintain the even
finish, and avoid removing too much. Then polish with your favorite
polish (I use Fabuluster or Wonder Bar).
I hope that this works for you as it has me. It is not a true
frosted finish, but the best I could figure to do by hand. Let me
know if this works
One thing you might try is media blasting. There are a few that
can operate without a cabinet, so you can save some money there.
I've heard of jewelers that put the piece in a tube with caps on
both ends and pour some media into the tube and then shake it.
Heven't tried it, but it might work for you.
And now for the really low tech media blasting.
A long ladder or a two to three storey house
Blasting medium (be it sand or glass beads)
Pair of pliers to hold your item
Powder funnel (with broad mouth)
Broom and shovel
Send your helper up the ladder or to a second/third floor window
with the funnel and the blasting medium. Put on the goggles and hold
the item to be blasted in the pliers. Let the person pour the medium
through the funnel, while you turn your item in the falling stream of
Use broom and shovel to remove blasting medium.
I know it sounds a little funny, but actually it works for me.
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