Radial Bristle Disc

Welcome comments on the new 3M Radial Bristle Disc. How can
product be improved to help you ?

What is a 3M Radial Bristle Disc?
John Caro

Hi there, I assume that you are a person from 3M?

Well, I shall confess it up front: I LOVE those little 3/4"
guys. And I love the bigger ones, which are apparently not
available in the Real World.

When I went to the MJSA show in Providence last year I
discovered a stash of interesting new 3M finishing products at
the Stuller booth. [Those diamond files are the best thing to
happen to cloisonne enameling, ever, by the way.] I saw those
peculiar little discs; they look like something that would live
on a coral reef, but flatter. Anyway, I was teaching a finishing
techniques class at the time, so the guys at the booth were kind
enough to give me two each of the four different colors on the
condition that I give them feedback. Not only have I given them
feedback, but I have bought a huge collection of the 3/4" ones in
all four grades, and my students all have their own little
Stuller radial disc kits. They are wonderful for producing the
kind of finishes I like best, which are not the mirror bright
nonsense that lasts for about 30 seconds after you leave the
buffing area. They are great on gold [I work in 18K] and silver,
they get into all the little crannies, one grade does great for
firescale, another gives me a terrific satin finish and so on.
Very nifty things indeed. But I have a problem: the ones that I
got at MJSA are 1" in diameter and quite beefy compared to the
delicate 3/4" discs. I do a lot of larger scale stuff like boxes,
vessels, flatware, etc., and the little guys are not the most
efficient way to work. I am still using 6 of the original 8 [this
after several months, treating them so carefully] – the two
pumice grade ones got caught on a tricky piercing and shredded.
sigh I have been stacking lots of the little ones on a mandrel
to get more coverage, but that does not really solve the problem.
I called Stuller and asked if they were ever going to get the 1"
ones into stock and got an answer to the effect that they were
waiting on – yes – the manufacturer.


Will the 1" discs ever be as readily available as the 3/4" ones?
I really could use both kinds, and so could my students, since I
don’t let them borrow my precious 1" ones…

Hey, glad you asked! It’s nice to be able to tell a manufacturer
that they have come up with a good tool that does what it claims
to and is pleasant to use. Not a very common thing. Nice work.

Anne Hollerbach

I welcome comments on the new 3M Radial Bristle Disc. This is a
new-to-the world brushing product for use on flex shaft tools. There
are various sizes and self contained abrasives for cleaning,
finishing, blending, texturing and polishing. No compounds or rouges
are required. Currently shown in the Rio Grande Tools & Equipment
catalog for 2000. How can product be improved to help you ? Let us
know !

Rick Pihl
3M Abrasive Systems Division

Hi Rick…the new discs sound interesting. Just a thought offered
ever so respectfully…Perhaps a good way of getting the feedback you
are seeking, and a review or two of your new product, is by offering
up a few samples to 3 or 4 of the more skilled…and technical among
us? That is if you…and they…and the rest of the list are in
accord of course. My personal nominations would be …Charles
Lewton-Brain, Alan Revere, Peter Rowe, and John Burgess…Wish I was
more versed in the jewelry world so that I could offer up a female
name as well. If the guys are kind enough to agree to offer their
services as the test mice, they might use your wheels for…say…a
two week period, and then report back here, to tell us all how well
the discs work or don’t work, and possibly offer suggestions for their
use, or for improvements if needed. Don’t want to put anyone on the
spot…uh-oh…I just did didn’t I?..sigh…but I really would like
to know how the new discs work before running out to buy any…cheap
and set in my technical ways as I am…Oooh…I’m probably going to
catch hell for this one. Hey…nothing ventured, nothing gained right?
:slight_smile: Lisa,(Cheeky and presumptuous as usual. Feel free to grouse at
me for the temerity of the suggestion, both on or off list…lol…),
Topanga, CA, USA

   Perhaps a good way of getting the feedback you are seeking, and a
review or two of your new product, is by offering up a few samples
to 3 or 4 of the more skilled...and technical among us? 

You know, I was just thinking much the same thing, when I saw Ricks
post. But modesty and all that… didn’t want to seem greedy. but
Rick, if you’d like to send me a small sampler, I’ll take em to work
and try em myself, and pass em around, get opinions from our polisher
(who’s VERY good at his job) as well as some of the other experienced
jewelers, and report back here with a review. I’ll be happy to publish
that as well on the rec.crafts.jewelry newsgroup. Contact me off list
at @Peter_W_Rowe if you wish.

Peter Rowe

My personal nominations would be ....Charles Lewton-Brain, Alan
Revere, Peter Rowe, and John Burgess.... 

G’day; You rang madam? Thank you; but no thanks. I only make
jewellery when the spirit moves me now. and the spirit is becoming

. Don't want to put anyone on the spot...uh-oh...I just did didn't

Please excuse me madam - I have another appointment. Good
afternoon. John Burgess PS Confucius he say: Although squeaky wheel
gets most oil, it also makes most noise but isn’t always best wheel.

Hi Lisa and all,

I did post once on this topic already, but it was in a general way,
making appreciative noises about several of the new lines of
finishing products and tools from 3M.

I encountered the radial bristle discs at the 1999 MJSA show in
Providence at Stuller’s booth. As I was teaching a course in
finishing techniques at the time, I was delighted to find a nifty new
item. They definitely don’t look like anything else out theRe: imagine
a plastic disc that has a hole in the middle to thread it onto a
mandrel screw; the disc is solid from the center to about half of its
radius, then the edge is cut into fringe. This “fringe” not straight;
it is swept around the to follow the circumference of the circle. The
individual bristles are offset slightly upward and downward in an
alternating pattern so that when you view the thing edge-on it looks
twice as thick as it actually is. There are three diameter sizes so
far [9/16", 3/4", 1"] and the discs are scaled appropriately in
thickness and in the fineness of the bristles. All three sizes come
in at least four grits, each one a distinct color.

You use them by putting them on a mandrel the way you would a mizzy
wheel. You can use one at a time, but I find it much more effective
to use them stacked up: three of the 3/4" ones make a nice thickness;
two of the 1" ones. You have to be sure to put them on the mandrel so
that the bristles look as though they are being swept back by the
direction of the flexshaft’s rotation, so their curved sides fall
against the metal, not the tips.

I have used the 1" discs most because I’ve had them the longest, but
the 3/4" ones are great, too. I had been using the Advantedge [tm]
wheels in all their shapes for dealing with firescale, solder that
should not be where it was, little scratches, and general surface prep
before going to a high polish. Those are nice wheels, but they throw a
huge amount of dust and the coarser ones [they are white] wear down
very fast just where I need them to enduRe: the narrow edges and
square corners that I use to get right into recessed areas. Very
frustrating. The bristle discs not only work much cleaner [you still
must wear a dust mask], they do not wear down rapidly at all. I am
still using six of the first eight that I got as samples nine months
ago; the only reason that I am not using the other two is that I
caught the little bristles in a bur on a pierced area and turned the
disc inside-out like an unfortunate umbrella. Oops. The 3/4" ones show
every sign of having the same kind of endurance.

I do not usually finish my pieces to a high shine, but I am always
looking for a better way to get a warm, perfectly uniform brushed or
satin finish. Pumice grade, better than 600 grit. I can get wonderful
results with these discs, exactly what I want. I have a student who
has a successful commercial product line, and after testing lots of
different finishes and methods, the white 1" disc gave us absolutely
the nicest results, exactly what the designer wanted, and did it
quickly with no fuss at all.

I have gone from the finest grit of the wheels directly to Zam and
Fabulustre with excellent results when I needed a gleaming surface
for a particular customer.

One of the things I especially like about these discs is that they
are “soft” – they flex around the surface being worked on. I have yet
to cut one of those shallow gouges into a surface I am working on – a
thing that is very easy to do with the white and black Advantedge
wheels. I can get these little bristles down inside areas that no
other thing will fit into. This is wonderful when I want a satin or
brushed finish on a surface that is topographically complex – lots of
up, down, under, between, twisting, and so forth. I can get at
everything without having to stop and change to a mandrel with a
different shape of wheel on it. This cuts down my total finishing time

I trotted these discs out to my students in the finishing class and
the response was completely positive. Most, but not all, of these
folks are new to metals, and they could get good results immediately.
The folks with years of experience loved the results and appreciated
the way the things interact with the surface by flexing but still
bringing a uniform pressure to bear on the piece. They also liked the
low dust level.

Lisa, I am offering the above as a kind of product review, although I
am far from the caliber of the folks you proposed as “mice” [Alan
Revere, for one, is a very, very tall mouse…:wink: ]. I really like your
idea of reviews from the pros, though, and I would add the name of
Blaine Lewis at New Approach School to your group, as well as that of
Cynthia Eid. I think she would especially like the 1" discs because
she, like me, so often works on larger scale things like boxes,
flatware, and vessels. These things are terrific for that kind of

By the way, if any of you are going to be at Catalog in Motion in
Tucson, Rick Pihl from 3M will be there demonstrating the discs
because they are in the new Rio catalog. Stop by and introduce
yourself and mention this thread on Orchid.

Hope this helps,
Anne Hollerbach

Good Morning All - In response to Lisa’s post :

   My personal nominations would be ....Charles Lewton-Brain, Alan
Revere, Peter Rowe, and John Burgess....Wish I was more versed in
the jewelry world so that I could offer up a female name as well. 

I know there are others out there, however . . . I have to offer a
test mouse candidate - Donna Shimazu. (Forgive me Donna!) She is quite
a jewelry wizard and the first woman to pass the master jewelers
certification! Anne’s informative post was great - sounds like a
winner of a product. Thanks to the inventors out there - always looking
for better solutions. :slight_smile: Cynthia

I have just received a box of these critters and I think they are
wonderful. They really conform to the surface and fit into all kinds
of nooks and crannies. They provide a very nice even finish. Try em
you will like them.


James Binnion Metal Arts
4701 San Leandro St #18
Oakland, CA 94601