I'd like to completely eliminate polishing compounds from my
workspace - they are just too messy. Is there an flexshaft
attachment that is the functional equivalent of bobbing compound on
a felt wheel?
A felt wheel, maybe not. But close. Try the 3-M radial bristle
disks. These are plastic bristle brushes that have the abrasives
built in. They come in abrasive grits from around 120 grit (in larger
sizes) down to a couple microns, which will give a pretty good
polish. The small ones are intended for flex shafts. Also note that
while they can be used one at a time for narrow slots and such, they
work best when stacked up so you have several on the mandrel at
Generally anywhere from 3 to 6 of the disks mounted at the same
time. These things work very well, and for some things, are more
controllable than compounds like Bobbing or others. Get one of the
introductory kits that offers mandrels and a variety of grits in one
size, but also get enough seperate mandrels so you don’t have to
unmount and remount the disks to go through a sequence with them.
Also, when mounting and using them, be certain you’ve got them
mounted in the right direction. They must turn so the bristles "drag"
along the surface. If you’ve got them mounted so the tips point
forward in the direction of rotation, they’ll snag and quickly
destroy themselves (not dangerous, but they’re not real cheap, so you
want them to last a while, which they do when used correctly.) Use
them with very little pressure so the bristles just slightly press
inwards as they rotate. Push too hard, and they wear out quicker but
don’t work any better or faster.