problem with polishing silver, in that, I can't seem to get the
mirror finish I want, especially on flat surfaces.
My understanding is that traditional European apprentices can spend
a year, or more, just on this one aspect of the craft… before they
get to do anything fun.
On silver, I “always” use the finest abrasives followed by tripoli
and rouge. Interestingly, I have a monumental piece I’ve finally
finished, and wasn’t happy with the polish. Went over the whole thing
with Zam and was surprised to find the results were superior. Was it
just due to the additional polishing time, or did the compound make a
difference? Hard to tell.
Flat surfaces are especially challenging. Once you get a ripple,
gouge or depression on a flat from a polishing wheel, you’re sunk.
You either have to live with it, or go back and re-sand to flat.
Continued polishing with a buff will only aggravate the situation,
and will never fix it, increasing frustration. The problem stems from
trying to polish a flat surface with a round, rotating wheel. The
smaller the wheel (like on a flex shaft) the worse it gets.
Ideally, flat surfaces are polished on a flat lap. Usually hard
felt, often a “split lap.” A split lap has radial slots cut through
so you can see the work somewhat as the wheel goes around, and you
are holding the work to the flat underside.
Choice of buff material may also have a bearing. I use one of those
"stringy" mop buffs for something with surface relief, so the little
strings can get into the texture, into corners, etc. For flat, convex
or more uniform surfaces, I tend to use a solid felt buff.
I do a lot of the delicate polishing on my flex shaft, reserving the
big buffer for larger pieces or those that are not prone to being
snagged. The last thing I want to have happen is have a piece
destroyed at the last moment by the power of the big buffer. Has
As with the thread on stone polishing, you’ll never get a fine
polish on a poorly prepared surface.
Hope this helps,
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)