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Polishing amber


#1

I have a long string of old graduated oval amber which is dull.
Anyone know what I should use and how to polish the individual beads?

Lorraine Gibby
lorrainegibby.com


#2

Hi, ZAM on a small buffing wheel. Small so the wheel goes slow. Fast
will burn and melt the amber. You will probably need to wipe off the
ZAM residue with a rag. It will shine under the black residue.
Figure out how to hold the beads. Try using a wire through the
beads. Keep the wire as short as possible for safety. Be careful.
Test the beads go slow. Good luck, Bruce


#3
Hi, ZAM on a small buffing wheel. Small so the wheel goes slow. 

Small buff outside surface goes faster than larger buff outside
surface.

Richard Hart G. G.
Denver, Co.


#4
Small buff outside surface goes faster than larger buff outside
surface. 

Hi, maybe you want to think about that again.

DONNIE


#5

Hello Lorraine, I recently did an inlay with amber and to get a high
clean shine on it I used white toothpaste on a white muslin buff.
Worked great a trick I pulled from my hat from my lapidary days. Use
a slow speed not to get the amber hot!

Hope this helps
Robin Bean


#6

Regardless of the diameter of the buff, any point on the wheel is
going at the same speed in RPMs. The larger diameter wheel has more
surface inches of buff passing a single point than the smaller buff,
so it could be said that the larger buff goes faster in terms of
surface units of length per unit of time than the smaller buff going
at the same speed (RPMs). Rob


#7
Small buff outside surface goes faster than larger buff outside
surface. 

The above statement can’t possibly be true.Comparing the outside
surfaces of a small buff and a larger buff, given the same spindle
speed, the smaller buff’s outer surface MUST go slower as it’s
travelling less distance than thelarger buff’s outer surface in the
same amount of time.

Helen
UK


#8
Small buff outside surface goes faster than larger buff outside
surface. 
maybe you want to think about that again.} 

All this assumes operation at a constant speed, i. e. not using a
variable speed tool, and who does that? Anyway, at a constant radial
speed, the larger buff will have a higher linear speed. Or, run it at
a lower speed!


#9
I recently did an inlay with amber and to get a high clean shine on
it I used white toothpaste on a white muslin buff. Worked great a
trick I pulled from my hat from my lapidary days. Use a slow speed
not to get the amber hot! " 

I agree with the suggestion to polish with toothpaste. I have found
pretty much any type works. I use a damp washcloth to apply the
polish, and rub by hand. It’s quick and easy, also no chance of
overheating. I also shape the stone by hand, using sandpaper. More
work, but you never have to worry about overheating.

Neal Hazen


#10

I did an amber hilt for a knife and did all the work by hand. Time
consuming, but not difficult


#11

Polishing Amber on the buffing wheel requires short stabs instead of
prolonged pressure in one place because of the heat issue. A quick
stab, turn the piece to another angle for the next stab. A little
here and a little there. light pressure. never lingering too long on
one spot, because amber is a poor conductor of heat and the heat of
the polishing builds up very fast at the contact area.

Polishing your metals with the same buffing wheel that was used on
the amber will be an unhappy experience! The amber clogs your
polishing buff with ‘molten plastic’, and when polishing metal
afterwards this plastic is melted onto the metal being polished. No
problem with the polishing of the metal, but cleaning off the
polishing muck caused by the amber is such a pain it’s worth having
separate mops for the amber.


#12

Well, I have to say this new style forum is great! I never saw any of this thread after asking the amber question! I had no idea so many people had offered their knowledge up for me. Thank you all so much! I never did get very far with polishing the amber, but toothpaste seems like an easy place to start, and taking on board all your advice, I shall have a tentative try. Worth waiting 3 years for! many thanks to you all.


#13

Wow, this new forum sure does bring old posts right to the top of the list. I love it. And I’m glad you finally got your answers. Also, if your not quite feeling the buff thing. I have successfully polished amber using tripoli and rouge on felt and chamois covered sticks. I did some pretty complex carvings out of amber about 20 years ago and needed to polish the inside of some small spaces, that couldn’t be reached by buffs. So I glued felt to small sticks and rubbed them with tripoli, and sticks covered with chamois for the rouge. I also used tripoli and rouge coated cotton string and thrummed it through holes to polish them. It polished up great, and didn’t take that long due to the softness of amber.


#14

Thanks so much. Lots to try!


#15

The secret to polishing amber is to use Brasso as a finish, hand polish. If the amber needs a pre-polish I hand sand with water up to 1500 grit, finish with brasso rub, wash and voila! I never use a power buff on amber.


#16

Another consideration is amber’s tendency to accumulate static electricity. (We get the word “electricity” from “electrum”, the Latin word for amber. ) If you polish it with a buffing wheel for too long, the stone can spontaneously shatter because of this. So take it easy.

Andrew Werby
Juxtamorph.com


#17

I can relate to the spontaneous shattering, I assumed it was head build up. Never thought of it being electricity! Ben Brauchler


#18

This is how I get a mirror shine on amber by hand:

I go up to 1000 grit sandpaper (wet), then use plain toothpaste (no colors, whiteners etc.) on smooth leather. The last step is polishing the amber DRY with the rough side of leather (I use cow). Rub it quickly and use firm pressure. Polish in sort bursts & dip in water so the amber doesn’t overheat. Of course, rinse the amber well with water between steps.

The last step was a happy experiment that worked great! It also doesn’t clog the ‘pores’ of the amber if you want to use it for healing purposes. Another tip: use a firm sponge backing when sanding and polishing. Old mouse pads work well. This helps to prevent flat spots on your piece.