Are you referring to using a paint stick and wrapping it with
sandpaper with progressively finer grits?
Here is how I was taught to do it:
There are 2 must have shapes - triangular and round. Success with
hands buffs depends on how well they made.
To make round one - take round stick (1/4 inch for goldsmith work )
and wrap emery paper around it. It is unlikely that just by wrapping
a proper tension will be achieved. So after wrapping, place buff on
flat surface and with another flat piece of wood repeatedly perform
forward strokes by placing flat piece on top of the buff and applying
forward pressure. Pressure applied only in forward direction. After a
hundred strokes or so, the paper tightens around the wooden core and
forms useful and long lasting buff. Ends are secured with binding
wire or tape or whatever.
Triangular is made differently. If triangular core is not available
a round one can be used. Align edge of core with edge of emery sheet.
Take something pointed, but not very sharp, (I use old bur ground to
a point and held in pin vice) and score paper on the inside using
edge as guide. Scoring should be light. Intend is to enable paper to
fold creating sharp corner, not to cut it off. Fold along scored
line. This will bring another edge in contact with paper and the
process is repeated. Continue until complete sheet is wrapped abound
Round core used the same way, except that first few folds are done
using ruler, and after that folding continues using previous layers
as a core. Practice requires to achieve tight, well formed buff.
Paint sticks can be used to create flat buffs. Also, simply using
folded emery paper in hand is a great way to sand. Hardness of such
buff is controlled by how many layers of paper one uses.
Advantage of multi-layer buffs is that when one layer is worn out,
it simply peeled off exposing new layer, so a buff can last quite a
while, even in a busy shop.
For polishing papers like 4/0 the above does not work very well, so
I make single layer buffs using aluminum core. Aluminum flats are
expensive but sometimes it is necessary to have fine grit buff.
Take adhesive on both sides tape, for installing carpets. Peel off
paper on one side, attach it to aluminum core, trim off with scalpel,
peel of second side and attach it to emery paper. Technique can be
used on convex or concave profiles creating almost limitless