How often should I use the lighter fluid and how often should I
put polish on? Would a variable speed tool (a Foredom) work better
(I'm using a Dremel moto-tool right now and I think that it might
just be too fast)?
Personally, I’ve never found any need or advantage to using lighter
fluid with the polish. I imagine it will help to suspend the grease
in heavy compounds, but the grease is usually there as a binder to
keep the compound together. I think I might be more concerned with
volatile fumes from the lighter fluid. If you can afford to invest in
a flex shaft, you trade torque for speed, but less vibration than
with a rotary, more flexibility later when you get to setting. Both
are useful mainly for small pieces, and a bench polisher is more
appropriate for things like bracelets and buckles.
As far as loading goes, it comes with experience. Greasy compounds
load up very easily, and you run more chance of overloading and
subsequently having to remove it by ‘ragging’ the buff. Dry compounds
need to be loaded more frequently, and are used up more quickly but
they’re not as messy. Try this: When you’re polishing, and you notice
the compound is smearing or doesn’t seem to be bringing up the polish
quickly, first add a little compound. If it takes care of the
problem, then you need more compound. If it doesn’t, and in fact
seems to be getting worse, ‘rag’ the buff to remove most of the
compound. A fine grater, such as used in the kitchen for grating
parmesan, orange peels and chocolate, works great and will not tear
up your buffs, especially the small ones.
2. Does anyone have any experience with using some of the
harder modeling waxes with the Delft clay? And, the Sculpey is just
a little too pliable before the baking.
I’ve had success using the really hard carving waxes. The softer
waxes tend to ‘pull’ the clay, causing a rough surface. When using
Fimo or Sculpey for your models, don’t bake them really hard. In
fact, underbake them so they are still somewhat pliable. They will
get harder as they cool. Fine tulle (found in fabric stores or as
decorative ribbon) can be used to put a high polish on both the wax
and clay models for a nice surface. Also, the Delft clay can also be
used in the sandcasting mold frames for larger models like belt
buckles and bracelets, with the option of either a vertical or
Hope it helps, and welcome to the exciting world of metalsmithing.