The sequence you propose will work, probably very well, after the
bobbing compound step, but it’ll chew up a lot of time.
The reason I say that is that the ‘steps’ between levels of abrasive
are pretty small. Most people use a ‘rough’ and a ‘fine’, you’ve got
2 roughs, 2 mediums and a fine.
Bobbing compound and tripoli aren’t vastly different from each
other, and white diamond is a sort of finer grade tripoli. (not
really, but in terms of how it cuts.) Zam is a slightly abrasive
final finish for some stones, and sterling. (Zam is usually where I
stop for sterling. It won’t hold anything finer for more than 2
seconds.) Rouge is rouge, and the end.
The treated buffs are more aggressive, and will leave scratches of
their own. On the other hand, they hold onto compound better. So
they’re good for initial cutting.
I’ve got all sorts of random compounds around here that I use
depending on material (and what’s ready to hand, truth to be told)
but generally for sterling, I sand to 600 grit, go to tripoli, and
thence to zam. If it were gold, I’d go from tripoli to rouge of one
sort or another. I have some white diamond, haven’t used it
personally in years, but the place I taught used it for initial
cutting in preference to tripoli. (it’s not as aggressive, so less
likely to devour details of the unwary.)
Your wheel selections look pretty good for what you seem to be using
them for. I tend toward loose stitched flannel for my final
finishes. (rouge, zam, whatever) The loose stitching gives them a
little more body. The totally unstitched ones just flop around.
(which is fine, for particular purposes, but not for every-day.)
will wear glasses, and tie your hair back, remove loose floppy
things from your arms, and practice with a ‘break away’ grip. If the
machine hungers, let it have your piece. Nothing’s worth losing a
finger over. Remember also: buff only from the equator of the wheel,
down to the south pole. (front lower quadrant, so anything it grabs
gets slammed into the table, not thrown into your face.) Remember to
always have the wheel rolling ‘off’ of an edge. Never let it climb
’on’ to the edge. It’ll grab and throw for sure that way.
Now back to the other question you asked: cleaning between steps.
Absolutely. Positively. Always. (Or they’ll fire you, in the real
Some people use ultrasonics, but I’m not that patient. I tend to use
dish-soap and a toothbrush to scrub all the tripoli residue off. It
is critically important that you get all the coarser abrasive off of
the piece before you transfer to your nice new ‘fine’ buff. If you
leave the crap, it’ll get dragged into the finer buff, and now you
can’t get a decent polish with the fine one. (If you’ve got access
to a steamer, that’s one of the things they’re made to do: blast
buffing crud out of nooks and crannies between buffing steps.)
The dry buff trick works as a final finish on plastics, but not so
much with metal. Yes, it rubs the tripoli off. But where does it go?
Onto the ‘clean’ buff. Which turns it into a very lightly coated
So it’s better to scrub it off with something that won’t contaminate
your downstream gear.