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Polisher Safety

           Hi Polishers, A word of caution here. NEVER NEVER wear
gloves  when polishing!!! This can result in injury to your most
precious asset...your hands... 

When I can’t use visegrips but still neeed to hold a small piece for
polishing I apply BandAid on the fingertips to protect my fingertips
from the heat. A spinning wheel can still rip it off but at least
its not skin or the rest of the hand.

Kelvin Mok

  Well said.  Good advice, but not quite enough.  The polishing
machine could quite possibly be the most dangerous piece of
equipment in the shop. 

For what it’s worth, in the 30 years I’ve been working with jewelry,
Most of the most serious accidents I’ve seen or personally know about
have invovled polishing motors. At the bench, its stuff like saw
blade cuts, gravers stuck in fingers, minor burns, and the like.
almost never require much more than a bandaid (with the exception of
things getting in the eye, and even then, it’s usually a motor driven
tool, like a drill press, milling machine, lathe, etc, that’s to
blame). The main other source of accidents I’ve known about was in
firms using various types of punch presses, drop hammers, and the
like. Folks tended to loose fingertips after managing to defeat the
various safety switches on the presses so they could hold stuff while
punching/stamping. That falls into the catagory of utter, predicable,
stupidity. But on the polishing machines, People often don’t realize
they’re doing something wrong. things just get away from them. I
know people who’ve lost bits of their scalp when hair caught, one gal
who’s piece got ripped from her hands spun around and thrown back at
her. it was a sharply triangular piece and penetrated deeply enough
to literally stick in her breastbone. could have been much more
serious than it was had it actually missed that bone. The worse was a
guy who, using light cotton gloves to prevent fingerprints (This was
his bosses idea, not his stupidity. he was new to the job, and
couldn’t have known better) while polishing silver bangle bracelets,
got said bracelet snagged and wrapped up in a small rouge buff.
Pulled the glove right off his hand. His entire index finger stayed
in the glove. And then there have been plenty of pieces ruined,
without bodily injury being invovled.

Yeah, all in all, the polishing machine is probably the most
dangerous machine in the shop…

Peter Rowe

I wanted to add one last thing to the safety discussion. If you
store polishing supplies in a cabinet under the polisher do not reach
under before turning it off if you have hair that can get caught.
One moment I will never forget involved a beginner with fluffy bangs
who bent over in front of a moving buff. Fortunately it didn’t catch
but I had some frightening seconds while she moved past. I was
afraid that if I spoke to her she might lean forward while turning to
look at me and I wasn’t close enough to grab her and pull her away.


I just received a flyer from TSI and in this it has a ring gripper
that goes inside the ring and by turning a thumb screw locks the ring
in place. The price is $19.60. Toll free phone (800) 426-9984. Web: Silverbear

On the subject of polisher safety, one aspect to note is that the
bigger the motor, the greater the danger. That is, a half horse power
motor is going to have a greater potential for damage if something
goes wrong, than will a 1/4 hp motor. Keep that in mind when you go to
buy the tool, if you haven’t done so already.

The size and kind of buff that is spinning is also a factor in the
potential for mishap. An eight inch, loose flannel buff, spinning at
3500 rpm with a 3/4 horse motor coming into contact with say a tennis
bracelet is something that I shudder to contemplate.

The machine I use, and would recommend for general work, is the Baldor
2 speed, 1/4 horse polishing lathe with tapered spindles. Having two
speeds is a useful option.

If you are doing primarily small scale work, you might look into
something like the Foredom polishing lathe shown in the Rio catalog on
page 366. This is 1/6 hp motor with speeds that are variable from
1800 to 7000 rpm. Gesswein shows a box on page 272 that you can buy
from them for $200 or make yourself for $20 that will keep dust and
flying parts contained using this kind of motor.

If Daniel Grandi or another toolie would care to comment, it should be
possible to make a variable speed buffer from one of the DC motors
that C&H has at low cost.

Having said all of the above, what I would really recommend is that
you try polishing papers, scrapers, and burnishers and eliminate the
need for the motor altogether. Then you are really safe and the
attendant risks from inhaling nasties is also practically eliminated.
Besides, the look is superior IMHO.

Riccardo Accurso
Ricco Gallery of Contemporary Art Jewelry
125 W German St /PO Box 883
Shepherdstown, WV 25443-0883

Bangles are always difficult and dangerous things to polish. I have
made a tool other members might like to copy. Two pieces of hinged
wood, about six inches by five inches, and about one inch thick. At
the opposite side to the hinge, drill a hole about half an inch deep,
and correspond this with a piece of doweling the same size, that fits
into the drilled hole. Place the bangle so that it is trapped by this
dowel/hole and so that only about one third of the bangle is visible.
when this section is polished, pull the tool away, open it, (like
clappers) and move the bangle around to a fresh section. Of course
this only does the side and a little bit of the inside sections, but
at least I can feel a little more at ease when my students polish
their bangles.

Hope this all makes sense.

dowel here inside the wood

hinge here

hole here to match the dowel

Felicity in sunny West Oz