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Polishing argentium silver sheet


#1

I find that I’m spending a lot of time trying to either buff out tool
marks or the marks from various buffs! I’m convinced that I could be
doing a better job and am seeking advice please!My current process:-
Using my dremel, go after deeper marks, grind edges etc with a gritty
a ttachment (think that it is in silicone based wheel). - Then go
from light blue to pink in silicone wheels- Then buff with jeweller’s
rouge a nd a felt wheel.- Then bake the Argentium, where possible, at
212 degree s F for 1 hr. When I take the piece into sunlight, all
flaws (if I can see past the shine) are suddenly visible. They are a
mixture of two kinds of flaws - tool marks that haven’t been fully
fixed (not sure if they can always be fully fixed), and then odd
zigging and zagging, presumably left by the silicone wheels skipping
on the metal.I spend a heck of a lot of time on the polishing, which
would be fine if the results were better! Advice is much appreciated, Ros


#2

Fabrication is only half the battle, the finishing step can easily
take way more time than the fabrication. Silver because it is so
soft and reflective is easy to mar and shows flaws brilliantly. The
first rule is to not put a tool mark on the work if it can be
avoided. As you are learning they are way more difficult to remove
than to place on the work. A dremel tool or flexshaft with rubberized
abrasives can easily make the surface worse at a high rate of speed
in unskilled hands. They are good for small areas but difficult to
use on larger areas without creating an uneven but shiny surface that
is quite visible in the final work. Try using files and sand paper
first to remove the tool marks and scratches. Then working with
larger buffing wheels that will be less likely to dig into the
surface like the small wheels on the dremel or flexshaft. Finishing
is an art into itself and takes lots of practice to master.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#3

First, get rid of the dremel and get a flex shaft. Next, get a
buffer and some polishing compounds, the minimum being a bar of
tripoli and a bar of rouge. There are many other polishing compounds
that you will learn about, but these will get you started. If these
two tools are beyond reach just now you can make do with felt backed
buffing sticks. Then get some wet or dry abrasive paper in grits 220
aand 320 at least. Take care when you are handling and tooling the
silver while you are making your piece to put as few unwanted marks
on the metal to begin with. Then, after whatever filing you have to
do, work the piece over with the 220 grit, clean the piece of any
grit which may have accumulated, and go to the 320. After that,
bring up a pre polish with the tripoli applied to the felt buff on
the buffing wheel or with the buffing stick. Clean again and do the
same with the rouge.

You mention that you are polishing silver sheet. If you mean
polishing large flat areas, that’s one of the more difficult tasks.
Recommend you stick with smaller pieces at this stage.

That’s a quick and dirty treatment of the polishing procedure, but
it can produce highly acceptable results. Good luck.

Jerry in Kodiak


#4

Thanks James, thanks Jerry

I’ve shied away from regular metal files and coarse grit paper,
actually using the silicone wheels for some filing (but problems with
too shiny a surface, in an irregular pattern). I was lucky enough to
be able to take a course this weekend (using PMC), and realized that
I’ve been using sandpaper and files wrong! Much better results when
working on the bench (file or paper on the bench) instead of holding
the piece and the paper or files (and making terrible grooves).I
bought a flexible shaft for my dremel, but I guess that Jerry is
talking about something with a pedal and more control? So, tripoli
eh? It hadn’t occured to me, until talking to some lapidary friends,
that the compound or the grit could be separate, and not on the wheel
itself.Sandpaper in the 200 - 300 seems coarse…but could explain
why I saw zero results when using 800.

Thanks
Ros