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Making a buffer from a washing machine motor

I’ve seen references from folks who have turned old motors (washing
machine, I think) into buffer/polishers. Not being a whiz kid at
figuring out this sort of thing, I was wondering if anyone has
published plans for how to do it? I would love to try it. Can any
of you point me in the right direction?

Karen Goeller

I got a grinder, 3450 rpm and 5/8 HP, and converted to a polisher. I
bought the tapered spindles from RioGrande. I also bought the
flanges and straight arbor but returned the straight arbor because
of so much wobble. Otherwise it seems to work well. I paid $75.00
for the grinder and $10.00 for the tapered spindle–compared to at
least $300.00 for a polisher in a cabinet. My husband built a kind
of cabinet out of Plexiglas. We don’t have that ideal yet. We built
it to vent out the side, which of course draws air from one wheel to
the other and might contaminate the wheel closest to the opening of
the vent. I am solving that, I think, by always using the wheel with
the coarsest compound on that end. We may still change that and make
a hole for a vacuum hose directly behind the polisher. If you do
this, be sure to find out the rpm and HP before buying. I found that
some don’t say and are not quite powerful enough.

J. S. Ellington

I don’t know anything about that, but in Florida, I often see Tool
Liquidation tent sales where you can pick up a small grinder for
about $20, they are easily converted. I have bought a lot of my
studio tools from these sales and have yet to end up with a lemon,
so you might try one if you see one.

Andrea L. McLester

one problem with a washing machine or a lot of other appliance
motors is that they are an open housing motor, they would become
clogged with lint and compound in no time. ringdoc

    one problem with a washing machine or a lot of other appliance
motors is that they are an open housing motor, they would become
clogged with lint and compound in no time. 

Not always true. My dad’s been using open housing washing machine
motors on his grinders and his slab saw for over 30 years, and he’s
only had to swap out a motor once. Those motors can apparently take a
lot of abuse and still keep going. And they’re cheap when bought from
used appliance places, so replacements are not a huge drain on
finances. If I ever take over dad’s rock cutting equipment, I’ll
continue to use them.

–Kathy Johnson
Feathered Gems Jewelry

        one problem with a washing machine or a lot of other
appliance motors is that they are an open housing motor, they would
become clogged with lint and compound in no time.  

one of my first buffers was a washing machine motor. still works and
i keep it around for nostalgia reasons. as i recall a jeweler supply
outfit in long island called alcraft sold me the tapered shaft
attachment. the motor was way beyond my budget but i figured i could
rig something up with some old motor. i had no clue about buff
speeds or any other thing other than other than i couldn’t see hand
buffing as an option. as it turned out no motor i had would fit the
shaft I’d just bought. at the time we had an old washer headed for
the scrap heap and the motor looked to have about the right
diameter shaft. it turned out that shaft was just a little too fat
and i was stuck again. at this point i gave up. about a week later i
was trying to figure out where i could get a drill bit the exact
size of the shaft when it occurred to me that if the shaft could be
filed down it would probably be work able. the problem was how to
file the round shaft evenly. i figured a lathe would work but i
didn’t have one i could access. then i realized That the running
motor was as good as the lathe. so being a little deficient in
safety awareness i calmly pealed the wire back on the motor and
pushed the wires into the plug outlet i then determined i really
needed to clamp down the motor first. anyway i got it secure and
with the motor running applied a file to the shaft and turned it
down to the right diameter for the tapered spindle. after the shaft
fit the spindle i flattened one side for the set screw and was in
business. i used to clean the motor fairly regularly until it
occurred to me that if i built a box around it so most of the dust
wouldn’t get into the motor. A WARNING THOUGH. I CONSIDER MYSELF
THE HOSPITAL. There my little rant about safety. Sorry. Anyway that
motor worked fine for many years and only got replaced by a buff
motor because it was part of some equipment I bought together. Still
use it now and again to remember who I am.

Talk to you later Dave Otto

Many years ago, I also made a buffing machine from an old washing
machine motor. It’s been a while, but as I remember:

For a ventilation system that included a fan and and hood enclosure,
I took apart an old air conditioner, took out the compressor (and
everything else except for the fan) and added one of those wide
clothes dryer hoses and an air filter from Home Depot to the back of
the air conditioner. (As summer approaches, many people are tossing
out old air conditioners. I don’t think they’d mind if you recycled
their old one).

The air conditioner box was oriented with the vent slots on top
(with a piece of wire screen covering the slots, to catch dropped
jewelry). The motor was mounted in a position such that the air
conditioner fan pulled dust into the case and out of the bottom,
through the filter and hose. The entire unit was placed on cinder
blocks that I had, to bring it to a workable height. You could
construct a table frame and legs, I suppose.

The top hood enclosure was a cardboard box cut to shape. I also
mounted a utility light behind the motor. I got the motor at a tag
sale, so the whole thing cost about 25 dollars. It’s amazing what you
can do with duct tape, things around the house, and cardboard! It was
very make-shift, but it really worked pretty well.

About 7 years ago, at a store where I worked, a regular factory made
polishing unit briefly caught on fire from dust around the motor, so
I must reinterate Dave’s concerns about saftey in the workplace. If I
made it again, I would use something non-flameable for the hood
enclosure. Those thin metal enclosures intended for stoves or heating
ducts would probably work.

Jesse Kaufman
CAD-CAM Technology
Handcrafted Originality
West Hartford, CT

My experience with an old washing machine motor was very similar to
Dave’s. However I had no difficulty finding a tapered spindle that
fit. I built my box so the motor was on the outside. The box had a
Plexiglas hinged top and arm holes. The motor arbor came through a
hole on the side. So dust was never a problem, I used it for many
years and it was still working when I gave it away. It was a very old
commercial washing machine motor (free) and ran at a comfortable
speed for hours without getting hot. The only drawback was the lack
of space between the side of the box and the buff so getting the
longest tapered spindle was a plus. Julia Land