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Polishing problems


I’m having some problems polishing some sterling silver jewelery
that I have made. I got some polishing mops and a wheel from my
uncle who used to be in the trade. The first item I made was a
ring and that polished up really well, but since then I have
made to flat brooches with a pattern cut out from them and I just
don’t seem to be able to get a good polish am just left with
small scratches on the silver. I use tripoli with a coarse brush
for the initial polish and then rouge for the next stage. I have
tried all sorts of things from using just a tiny amount of
polisher to a large amount but always seem to get the same
result, one point is that I polish in my garage which is pretty
cold would this have an effect. All the pieces are polished down
to a 1200 grit emery paper before polishing Please could someone
help regards Martin


Martin - It sounds like your problem may be contaminated buffs
or mops - do you clean your pieces scupulously between stages?
Try using your finish polish on a new, clean mop after you’ve
Thoroughly clened your piece after the tripoli and see if your
problem doesn’t disappear. Mike


Dear martin, /try this simple proceedure. use a tumbler,steel
sho and burnishing solution. the longer it tumbles , the shinier
it gets. it works for me.happy tumbling. Louise


My thought is that your polishing buff is contaminated. If you
use the same buff for the tripoli and the rouge, you are still
using tripoli. Also, an improperly stored buff that is subject
to the collection of dirt and other debris will leave your work
looking a little less polished than is possible.


Martin, Are you cleaning your pieces between the tripoli and the
final polish? Could be residual tripoli on your item and it is
transferring to your final polish wheel. (First time it worked,
thereafter it didn’t???) Also try simichrome paste for your final
polish. It works well for me. Tripoli, clean, simichrome…Get a
new buff for the final polish. Hope this helps, Bob
Staley-B.Staley, Goldsmiths (the laser guy) P.S Check the angle
you are polishing at, large flat pieces can be a real bear
sometimes. I usually try to polish the metal the shortest
distance across…


about polishing, you may look to rio for their “system 3 purple
buffing wheels” for your tripoli, and you have to remember,
especailly on your high polishing weels to clean them regularly.
A comb while spinning, a rake through them. It is important
because you are trying to get any hardened metal impregnated
compound out of the wheel before going on. If your wheel is old,
and impregnated with “impurities” you won’t be able to get a high
polish. Remember that you will eventually have to step down all
your wheels on a regular basis. Move the rouge to one step down,
and so forth. Also, make sure you rince your work before moving
to a higher buffing wheel. If you don’t you will get that lower,
more course compond on your higher wheel. I recently swiched to
the system 3 wheel, and have found it fantastic for starting my
cleaning. I no longer have to clean out tripoli cuts from my
work, and it is a real bonus, but if your cleaning is going fine
untill your final polish, it is time to either clean/comb your
wheel, or trade it down, and get another. A Austin


Hello Martin, A soft buff (also called a mop) with tripoli or
bobbing compound can be used to sort of half polish the piece.
Use rouge on a different buff to complete the process. Be sure to
clean the piece between the two operations as the compounds don’t
mix well. Have fun.
Tom Arnold

   try this simple proceedure.  use a tumbler,steel sho and
burnishing solution. the longer it tumbles , the shinier it
gets.  it works for me.happy  tumbling. 

Right! And it not only polishes, it burnishes! The Rio Grande
mixed stainless steel shot and their super burnishing soap seem
to be the best. [No, I have no connection with Rio Grande other
than as a customer!] After about an hour, most things look
great! A few things take a little longer. Margaret


When we have accumulated a number of contaminated or dirty mops
( polishing buffs) we throw them into the household washing
machine then tumble dry them in the dryer. Also, when final
polishing silver we always use a clean ,loosely sewn
buff;tightly sewn buffs seem to contaminate more readily and
,when they are contaminated ,will put deep scratches in the
metal. It should be born in mind that as a wheel becomes smaller
in diameter the surface feet per minute diminishes
and,therefore, the polishing effectivness of the wheel is
reduced. Another aspect is that one should not bear down too
heavily on the wheel…let the speed of the wheel and the
polishing compound do the work. Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos,CA.


Martin: yes sounds like contaminated buffs or encrusted with
crud. The best way I’ve found to clean buffs is with a piece of
sandpaper about 75 grit. I use sanding belts made for those
little powered hand sanders. This will clean them really well,but
personally if I were you I’d start with a new set of buffs. Keep
each one in a plastic zip lock bag and mark what they’re for,
tripoli, Zam or whatever. Clean your piece well between
polishing steps, use a toothbrush and hot soapy water with a
strong detergent and clean off every bit of tripoli before you go
to the next step like Zam. You don’t want to contaminate your
buffs that way. Dave


Louise Have you ever tried using a vibratory tumbler using
ceramic media? It is about three to five times faster than steel
shot and can be used without rinsing for weeks at a time
depending on the volume of usage. The only catch is that the
media have to be broken in before using meaning that they have
to be tumbled in a rotary tumbler until they get a good polish.
Once this has been accomplished, they last forever.( We have
been using our current load for about eight years on a daily

We got our media originally from Swest, but it is also available
from Gesswein. Stay away from media that is too large. Ours are
little bias cut cylinders about 8x3mm. The stuff is pricey, but
when you consider their longevity the cost is insignificant. Ron
at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA. ( P.S. No need for a special
burnishing compound; liquid dish detergent or dilute Smart and
Final Liquid Pink Cleaner work like a charm)


Martin, Are you cleaning (ultrasonic cleaning and steaming) your
pieces before using a new compound? Are your buffs contaminated?
Do you ziplock your compounds and buffs to prevent contaminants
from getting imbedded in them? If you put your compounds down on
dirty surfaces and then apply compound to your buffs, you will
have contaminated your buffs. If you store your buffs together,
without separate wrapping, you will be contaminating your rouge
buffs with the coarse tripoli. Once your buffs are
contaminated, you’ll have to scrap them or use them for a coarser
compound (ie. Once you contaminate your rouge buff, you can use
it for tripoli or bobbing compound since they’re coarser than
rouge. You cannot do the reverse, convert a tripoli buff to a
rouge buff.)

You might try getting a new, fresh rouge buff. Try it out on
cleaned, prepolished pieces and see if you can get a good finish.
Do not overcharge the buffs with too much rouge. If you do dress
the buff to remove excess compound, do it with a clean rake or
you will be contaminating your rouge buff. Hope this helps solve
your situation. Regards, Donna


To take excess rouge out of your mops ( there is always someone
who likes to put too much on) or give them a bit of a clean I
always use a pumice block and then a tickle up with a piece of
old hacksaw blade. I must admit though I still keep a nice new
dressed mop for larger flat jewelry surfaces. It was a tip I
picked up from the polisher in the first workshop I worked
in. Chris Hackett