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