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How to move through polishing more quickly?

I know this is a bit of a shot in the dark. I have read the articles and a few threads on here regarding polishing so I’m not sure if there will be much more new information to offer besides “practice” but I’d like to ask still. I recently started an apprentice position in a repair shop and am having a hard time moving through the polish quickly enough to keep on schedule. If I try to go faster then I am asked to re-polish due to missing minor scratches. If I make sure to do it right I am spending 5-10 minutes per ring, polishing and turning it in the light to make sure I have a mirror finish. What can I do to move more quickly?

As of right now, my only idea is to get another light for the polishing area so I do not have to spend as much time trying to catch the light to see scratches.

Thank you in advance, I appreciate any help with this novice question.

Hi!

good lighting and good magnification/ optics are your friend!

ok, quick question: so how are you “moving thru the polishing”?

you mentioned repairs…

perhaps you could describe your steps/ process/ tools, for polishing a common item that you work on, that is giving you problems?

curious…

Julie

Shine a small LED right on the polishing area. This will show fire scale and scratches. Inspect in sun light or led light. Consider some sort of magnification, but don’t let the magnification interfere with whatever you might wear for dust and eye protection. I started wearing an optivisor after 45 years at the bench and it is a whole new world, especially soldering. Good luck…Rob

Take a photo with your phone or a camera and zoom it. Voila–all will be revealed! Painfully at times too.

What are you polishing and what are you polishing with?

Taking closeup pictures is a great suggestion. I take a lot of them and they can be brutal.

I’m the bench lead at a small jewelry manufacturer and basically polish for a living. Our stuff is highly polished and then plated. It takes less than 3 minutes to polish a ring. Of course our rings are simple in format being half round or flat and laser engraved. No stones, no settings, no solder. However we have a heavy burr of metal kicked up by the laser during Engraving. We deburr with 3M radial bristle discs and polish on unstitched muslin buffs with Picasso Blue. We use that for all metals silver, gold, platinum, steel, brass displays. It’s great because it’s a one step compound and saves loads of time. The other tricks are good lighting as mentioned and good vision meaning an optivisor if needed. A lot of it is training the eye to see the flaws at the lathe before cleaning. Figuring out a standard approach to Polishing pieces is also key. I mean that you polish every piece in the same order. For example- deburr outside, polish outside, deburr inside, polish sides, polish inside. Doing the same steps the same way with the same motions means saving time with practice. Even if pieces differ slightly with variations due to setting styles or numbers of stones, etc., this approach will eventually lead to increased speed. I know it’s frustrating to be told it just takes practice. I won’t lie and say it’s easy either. I train our new Bench Jewelers and we figure 6 months to fully train them. There are other tasks than Polishing, but that’s the core skill set and is the hardest to master. We tell everyone coming in that they get retrained no matter how much experience they have. Even at that we can see a 50% washout rate. Being really good AND fast is challenging. Good Luck and let me know if there’s other questions I can answer.

Ruthanne Robertson
Bench Jeweler Team Lead
Legacy Touch, Inc.

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I have a similar problem, being a watch maker. I found in my case that the key to better polishing was to use better magnification. There are all sorts of ways to do this including inexpensive electronic microscopes, that you can use to see the ring or piece of jewelry being polished on a computer screen. This is pretty extreme, but gives an idea of the lengths that some polishers will go to. I personally use strong magnification, 4X followed by 10x and the best lighting I can find.