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Polishing with a dremel

Hi everyone, I know most peoples views on dremels verses flexi shaft
from the archives! I cannot however afford to buy one at the moment
and have purchased a dremel with flexi shaft very cheaply and hope
to use this initially until i can get some cash together. what i am
hoping to do with it is polish some small pieces of silver jewelry
that i have made. I have never attempted polishing before , but its
time i started to do it myself!!!

I am unsure however which bits and bobs i need from the dremel range
to do this, or indeed if there are any cheaper attachment
combinations i could use? I also purchased a DREMEL 624 16-Pc
CLEANING/POLISHING kit but i am unsure about the cleaning compound.

so two questions really… if those that have used dremels in the
past before they moved on to better things can remember?!!!I

1 - #401 Mandrel
1 - #402 Mandrel
1 - #404 Bristle Brush
1 - #405 Bristle Brush
2 - #414 1/4 Felt Polishing Wheel
1 - #421 Polishing Compound
1 - #422 Felt Polishing Tip
1 - #423 1 Cloth Wheel
1 - #425 Emery-Impregnated Polishing Wheel
1 - #428 Carbon Steel Brush
2 - #429 1 Felt Polishing Wheel
1 - #443 Carbon Steel Brush
1 - #461 Rubber Polishing Point
  1. if i used this above cleaning set , how would i go about
    polishing an item from the roughly sanded stage(with firescale!!),
    which bits, which order? 2. if it is better to go to tripoli and
    rouge? what bits and bobs do i use?

Thankyou in advance for helping with this probably very basic level
question. i guess we all have to start somewhere! Regards


Note From Ganoksin Staff:
Looking for a multi functional tool for your jewelry projects? We recommend:

1 Like
 Hi everyone, I know most peoples views on dremels verses flexi
shaft from the archives! 

Hey Nikki, don’t feel bad. I have used a Dremel with a flex shaft
attachement for over ten years–for everything from jewelry to
carpentry. When I was a costumer, I even used it to drill holes
when building a 4’ x 8’ cutting table. I know have a very well
equipped studio where I can work just about any material–metal,
wood, stone, you name it–and my dremel remains the most versatile
tool I have ever purchased. I am still coming up with uses for it.
I initially bought mine thinking, like yourself, I will move up to a
Foredom when I have some cash–I was still in college. However, my
dremel is still going strong and I see no need to fix something that
is not broken. The important thing is to have a reliable tool
precise enough to accomplish the task at hand and not break you!

As for polishing, once I have filed and sanded, I use a hard felt
buff with Tripoli. Until recently, I have always used Cupronil, so
firescale has not been much of a problem. Unfortunately, I have run
out and the only place that I can find it seems to be Rio Grande (I
plan to order more from them, but I wanted to let things calm down
first). Anyway, the Tripoli and felt combination seems to be good
for removing the firescale. I typically follow the tripoli with Zam
and a muslin buff. I believe that Dremel makes both muslin and felt
buffs–I buy mine from a local jewelry supply.

Remember though, I am self-taught, so there may be other, better
ways of doing this, this is just how I have solved the problem.

Andrea L. McLester

Hi Nikky, No reason to be apologetic about a Dremel! Of course there
are better choices, but its a starting point! I talked my parents
into buying me a Dremel for Christmas when I was in high school (~25
years ago), and I still have it. It doesn’t get much use anymore, but
its always there hanging from the side of my bench. The foot pedal
finally died, but the Dremel itself is fine.

Anyway, you are correct that your typical polishing sequence will
involve buffing with tripoli, cleaning well, then polishing with
rouge. You will want to make sure the surface is relatively scratch
free before starting the tripoli. This surface preparation can use
sanding sticks, disks on a Dremel, abrasive rubber points, etc.

The key concept is to move from the finest tool that will get the
job done effectively, to successively finer abrasives. Its important
for you to be aware of the relative abrasiveness of each tool or
compound you plan to use.

The choice of buffs vs. bristle wheels vs. hard felt wheels depends
on the surface being polished. With a smooth surface, a hard felt
wheel will give a good even polish. If its a detailed or textured
surface, a muslin (string) buff or bristle brush will allow you to
get down into the nooks and crannies to polish. These tools are
charged with polishing compound, but its very important to use the
tool only for that compound. Keep them segregated, and mark them with
a Sharpie so you know the compound with which they’re used.

Again, scrub the piece with warm soapy water and a toothbrush
between polishing compounds. I even keep a separate toothbrush for
cleaning each specific polish. May seem a little “overboard”, but it
helps prevent cross-contamination. I did get an ultrasonic to help in
this area, but some gemstones can’t be put in the ‘sonic, so I
sometimes revert to the ol’ toothbrush method.

I might suggest using some scrap metal and experimenting with the
various points and buffs you have. Familiarity is the best way to
know which tool is best for a given situation. Don’t be afraid to add
to your collection. Think of the kit you received as a starting
point, not a comprehensive solution for every polishing problem.
Vendors have a variety of “polishing points”, fine abrasive wheels,
bristle wheels, buffs, and such. Even though I have my favorites, I
often pull out a rarely used item for a special application, and even
improvise with things like cotton swabs on a wooden stick.

I don’t think you’ll find much uniformity among the Orchid community
in exactly how people do this. We all develop our own favorites, but
we’re all following the same basic principals and processes.

P.S. Probably don’t need to tell you this, but ALWAYS wear eye
protection, and a respirator or dust mask is a very good idea. My
safety glasses have literally saved my vision twice in the last year
during buffing/finishing operations with my flex-shaft. I’d still be
picking bits of tripoli out of my cornea from a chunk that flew off
the bar and hit me square in the lens of my safety glasses… before
I even had time to react!

Hope this helps!

Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)

I just thought I’d add my $0.01 worth on this.

I thought the same way about the Dremel for about 5 years. I loved
the small battery-powered one - for everything from jewelry to
carpentry! But, about a year ago I decided to go-ahead and buy the
Foredom (Motor L - stone-setting version - high-torque/low-speed)
and I must say - I LOVE IT! 100’s of times better than the Dremel
for stone-setting/polishing/etc. The control at low-speed is great!
(I swear I can get it down to 1 rpm and actually watch it spin!)

Anyway, the usual disclaimer that I’m not affiliated/etc. with
Foredom goes here - just a wonderfully happy customer!

Dwain Coufal
D.C. Designs

Dave: You hit the nail on the head when it comes to eye safety. I
have a scar in my eyebrow from a gold inlay and being 19 years old
and knowing all the answers to the questions before they were asked ,
I thought safety glasses were just a pain to wear. Good thing the
inlay was about 1 inch too high when it hit my all knowing head. (G)

Mike @ Lone Star Tech

Note From Ganoksin Staff:
Looking for a multi functional tool for your jewelry projects? We recommend: