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Successfully removing scratches


#1

I started a new thread, as I didn’t want to hijack the “Buffing with
tripoli leaves scratches” thread.

I find that I sometimes have difficulty completely removing
scratches. I use a couple of grades of file, then a couple of grades
of sandpaper, then a cutting compound and finally Fabulustre. What
I’m finding, is that the scratches appear to have gone, so I’ll move
on to the next stage, etc, etc. But when polishing, those scratches
appear again, as if they were hiding!

One of the problems I see occurring is that I’ve seen advice that
you should sand perpendicular to the previous grade (as the scratches
are more easily seen), but say for example you are filing/sanding a
bezel, if you follow that advice, you end up with the bezel top
rounding off, and I like my bezels to be nice and crisp. Also, if
it’s a very shallow bezel, there isn’t sufficient space to file/sand
up and down the bezel, so along its length is the only practical way,
but that’s when I find the scratches “hiding”. I inspect with a
loupe, but I just can’t see these deeper scratches. Perhaps I have
problems with depth perception at that scale? I must admit, that I
find I have this problem much less now that I’m using decent files
where the teeth are more precise in depth. Cheaper files were a
nightmare and caused this problem far more often.

Any ideas as to how to be sure the scratches are removed, before
moving onto the next stage? Thanks in advance.

Helen
UK


#2
What I'm finding, is that the scratches appear to have gone, so
I'll move on to the next stage, etc, etc. But when polishing, those
scratches appear again, as if they were hiding! 

One of the prime causes of this annoying behavior has to do with the
nature of many of the abrasives we use. Many of them state a given
grade, such as 2/0 emery paper or 400 grit abrasive, etc. But these,
with many abrasives, are averages, not an absolute particle size. So
a 400 grit paper might have mostly particles at that size, but some
are finer, and a few might be a good deal coarser. the result is a
sanded finish that looks like it came from a 400 grit abrasive, but
hidden in that finish are a few scratches that are simply deeper,
from those few coarser particles. In addition to the methods you
describe to detect those and remove them before moving to a yet
finer grade of abrasive or polish, you can also greatly reduce the
incidence of this problem by using abrasives that are more carefully
graded for size. This isn’t an option that traditionally was
available, but the 3M corporation in particular has pretty much
revolutionized abrasives for jewelers. You will find that if you’re
using the various 3M products that use micro graded abrasives, so
that particles are much more uniform in size, then the problems with
those troublesome deeper scratches will be greatly reduced, or even
in some cases, pretty much eliminated. As with almost anything in
the world that feels good, works better, tastes better, etc, often
these are a bit more costly. But the value of the time and
aggrevation you save often more than makes up for the added costs.
And some of these products, though more costly in appearance, are
also longer lasting, which makes them no more costly in actuality
than the cheaper traditional abrasive products.

These are not the only answer, of course, nor the cure to all the
problem, but they sure help.

Peter


#3

Helen,

I rely less on sandpaper more than I used to, and rely more on
rubberized wheels. My favorite is Swifty’s One-Step for precious
metals. Swifty has an entire line, but the One-Step is the only one
that I can vouch for. I can usually go from soldering to (maybe
files) to Swifty to Zam without the need for sandpaper.

In general, the rubberized wheels are useful in prepolishing steps.

Jamie


#4

Hi Helen, Being an old time benchworker I have a few items on my
bench that may not be easy to find these days. I have a box of what
were called Tam o Shanter stones or Water of Ayr stones in various
sizes, these are the perfect solution for removing scratches before
polishing. They have been used for decades by professional metal
polishers within my trade. When I first entered this trade we had a
polishing shop with ten full time silver polishers employed,
including a few apprentices. I used to spend a bit of time in the
polishing shop learning their skills. To remove file marks from flat
silver items, they would first rub the surface with a pumice stone
using water as the lubricant, then they would use a Water of Ayr
stone again using water as the lubricant. If they were removing
scratches from shaped items, such as bowls, they would use pumice
powder, mixed as a paste, on a polishing mop, a polisher who had been
doing this process would end up covered in the mixture.

My Grandfather, who was an engraver, used to remove scratches from
his pierced monograms by first using water of ayr stone and then he
used a piece of charcoal dipped in fine oil as an abrasive before
finally rouging on a mop, he said that using this method kept the
sharp edges on his pierced monograms, rather than them being rounded
off when polishing on a tripoli mop.

Peace and good health to all
James Miller FIPG


#5
Being an old time benchworker I have a few items on my bench that
may not be easy to find these days. I have a box of what were
called Tam o Shanter stones or Water of Ayr stones in various
sizes, these are the perfect solution for removing scratches
before polishing. 

These are indeed wonderfully useful (also sometimes called "Scotch"
stones), and a whole lot faster than people used to everything being
driven by a power tool, would anticipate. For some time, they were
hard to find, if not impossible to find, as a fire had shut down the
sole production facility, or so I was told. I don’t know about
availability now in the UK or E.U., but here in the States at least,
Allcraft in New York apparently got the producers to start up at
least limited production again, and Allcraft carries the stones.

Cheers
Peter


#6

I TOTALLY support Peter Rowe’s points regarding the 3M products that
use micro graded abrasives. The issue at the base of everyone’s
suggestions for doing away with those tiny scratches that come up in
the final polish is in effect UNEVEN ABRASIVES–whether it is from
poorly graded polishing mediums or contamination of a wheel with even
the slightest bits of a coarser medium (from either not washing or
not keeping buffs for different pastes totally separate). It’s the
same principle. Once I started using the 3M papers, they became my
exclusive ‘tool’ for polishing flat surfaces. You can bring flat
sheet to a very high shine just with the papers! I then only need a
touch of rouge if I want a truly mirror finish. And it keeps edges
crisp and totally eliminates any possibility of drag lines. Thus 3M
really hit the nail on the head with the micro graded abrasives–the
difference is immediately noticeable! And since there is no paste-y
buildup, it eliminates the need for washing. It’s a product that
changed my life…:-)…!

Janet in Jerusalem


#7

Hello James

How wonderful to read your comment.

When I first started my Silversmithing, I bought a Tam O Shanter
stone! I think it is a very effective scratch remover. My son is a
Machinist and gave me a set of stones with lubricant that they use in
polishing their steel molds. The stones are gradient…about 3 inches
long and square.

I have wondered about breaking up the honing stone that my
grandfather had.

Love reading all of your comments. You are a world of information
and many thanks for sharing.

Rose Marie Christison


#8

Thanks very much Peter. I’ll look into 3M’s products and see if
they’re suitable/readily available for me to use. I feel that I’m
getting there regarding finishing, although I would like to find the
ultimate products to use in my flexshaft. I know everyone keeps
saying that it’s better to polish with the big bench polisher, but my
pieces usually have so many nooks and crannies in them, and so few
flat surfaces, that I hardly ever switch the big machine on. So lit
tle rotary tools are the way forward for what I’m currently making.
Thanks again Peter.

Helen
UK


#9

Hi Jamie,

I’ve got quite a few rubberised wheel type products, and used to use
them exclusively for the pre-polishing stages, but I found that I was
accidently putting grooves into my work. That’s when I abandoned them
in favour of files, and learned to use files properly. Then buying
quality files improved things even further. Perhaps I can give them
another go, knowing now what I do, and perhaps I’ll be less inclined
to put grooves into the work. Thanks for the suggestion, maybe they
are worth revisiting.

Helen
UK


#10

Hi Jim,

I’ve looked for the Tam o Shanter and Water of Ayr stones before
now, and couldn’t find them anywhere in the UK. Are they still
readily available? The charcoal/oil idea sounds interesting.
Presumably to use charcoal inside the piercings, you’d need very
slender pieces, such as artist’s charcoal? I think you’d have to have
a very delicate touch too, as it’s very fragile stuff, but it
obviously worked for your Grandfather so it may well be worth a try.
What sort of oil did he use?

Thanks for the advice James.

Helen
UK


#11
I TOTALLY support Peter Rowe's points 

Thanks. (blush)…

regarding the 3M products that use micro graded abrasives. The
issue at the base of everyone's suggestions for doing away with
those tiny scratches that come up in the final polish is in effect
UNEVEN ABRASIVES--whether it is from poorly graded polishing
mediums or contamination of a wheel with even the slightest bits of
a coarser medium (from either not washing or not keeping buffs for
different pastes totally separate). 

Yes, but. Please also read Leonids good description of “aggregation
and flow”. It IS possible to get surprise last minute scratches just
as you thought it almost polished, simply from this type of behavior
of even the correct choice in polishing compound. Gem cutters are
familiar with this as well, as some types of oxide polishes used in
facet cutting also have a hasty tendancy to do this, especially if
there is just a little bit too much compound, or the wrong level of
lubrication, etc.

And some of the problem is not the choice of abrasive, but rather
simply the techniques used. There is a reason why learning to polish
really well is one of those aspects of the trade that traditionally
was it’s own specialty. It’s not as simple as just using the right
stuff.

Some metals are also more tricky to get consistant perfect polishes
on, than others. Silver, for example, is often nastier to polish than
gold. I know some silversmiths who take great pains to store each
buff or wheel in it’s own plastic bag to avoid cross contamination.
Frankly, and I know some of you will gasp at this, but I don’t. Most
of my buffs and wheels are just on pegs on a peg board, and some of
the more commonly used ones never quite make it to the board, but
live in a jumbled pile next to the motor. Hardly the way to avoid
contamination. And yet, I have few problems with this. Occasionally I
do find a scratch at the last moment, but it’s also usually quickly
enough dealt with, usually with the same buff used a bit more lightly
and perhaps on one edge, without adding more compound. Small residues
of the coarser (tripoli, etc) compounds on a rouge buff seem to make
little difference, since the first couple passes over the buff and
the next application of the rouge pretty much overpowers any slight
effect a trace of tripoli might have. Now, notice that I’m usually
working with gold and platinum. With silver, I admit I am usually
more careful, and I do actually have one soft unstitched final rouge
buff that I too keep in a seperate bag. I save it for those larger
surfaces (vessels, etc) which need that perfect mirror shine. Most of
the jewelry scale items, even in silver, don’t require that buff to
get to a proper final polish.

For those of you who find it needed to be almost paranoid about
seperating buffs and washing everything totally before switching
compounds, I would say that if this is what works best for you, both
in the results and fitting your working style, then this is a good
thing, and works for you. But for those who don’t do this, and still
need to improve their polishing results, please be aware that there
are more ways than this, to learn to get great results. Polishing is
a process, but it’s also very much a skill. And I think that the
skill and technique involved is more important, than the
"procedures": and cautions used.

But that’s me. I’m also not the guy to admire if you like a
workbench to look pristine and totally organized with every tool
always in it’s exact place. My bench pan is some weird variety of a
birds nest some times. That would not work for some people. It seems
to work for me. It does get cleaned out and organized from time to
time, but not nearly as often as some folks do it. If you’re working
method works for you, then don’t make too much of an effort to try
and emulate people who work totally differently from the way you find
comfortable, unless you’re finding aspects of your final results or
productivity levels suggest the need to so.

Cheers
Peter Rowe.


#12

Where can get these wonderful 3M paper?


#13

Helen,

I feel that I'm getting there regarding finishing, although I would
like to find the ultimate products to use in my flexshaft. 

If you’re using a flexshaft to polish, are you using something to
rake the flexshaft buff? Accumulated compounds can cause scratches
on full size polishers, hence the need to rake the buff. I imagine
that the same is true of flexshaft buffs.

Jamie


#14

for 3m products in the UK (some are made there)
http://solutions.3m.co.uk/wps/portal/3M/en_GB/ASD/AbrasiveSystems/

jesse


#15

Helen,

I feel that I'm getting there regarding finishing, although I would
like to find the ultimate products to use in my flexshaft. 

If you’re committed to the flexshaft for polishing and want to try
3M, then the products to explore are the 3M Radial Bristle Discs.
This is what they look like.

http://tinyurl.com/24br7g3

Best wishes,
Jamie


#16

Rio Grande carries them…Page 354 of the Tools and Equipment 2010
catalog. Item 337-308. And while you are trying them, go to the C.
3M Sponge Sanding Pad Set, Item 337-318, and you will never use sand
paper again! 3M has revolutionized the hand polishing method!

There are a couple more Micron-graded items listed (B.and C.) - I
have them, but can’t give a good opinion on them yet! There is a
Micron-Graded Abrasion Comparison Chart on the bottom of page 354.

On Page 355 are Spectrum Finishing Papers - A. The Grit Markings are
a bit confusing - in most of the other polishing items, the coarsest
is listed at the top of the ordering list, but these show the finest
at the top! I have them, just to experiment… I do a lot of
experimenting on scrap before I begin something unfamiliar just to
test it out!!!

The wonderful 3M Bristle Disc is on page 224 Item H. 332-595.

Rose Marie Christison


#17

Big files, maybe a touch of emery paper, usually wrapper round a
large stick. New side ~220, worn side well much finer. Odd little
scraps of emery for fine details. As large a buff with bobbing as
will fit, Dialux blue for polish and it does cut when pressed. I will
use little rubber things where needed but tend to think that little
stuff is good for little grooves and making textures :-). Clean
between steps and just don’t over do it. If I went through every
grade of emery paper I have for every piece I would soon be in a
padded room.

For me big is better, I will use the flex shaft when required but it
is always a dirty experience. Polishing is necessary but I don’t plan
on making it a career. Professional polishers (the good ones :slight_smile: I
have known don’t futz around with rote patterns, they just get the
job done.

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#18

peter

cheers for the cross contamination school of buff polishing i would
guess that these buff separatists just haven’t tried the practical
way to get the job done.(they are probably young’ ns) its more
pressure and feel than immaculate preparation that get the glow.

zev


#19

Hi Jamie,

Lol! I’ve just replied to you about these in another post. I’ve found
a supply for them in the UK, but I notice that we don’t have as many
different grades available in the UK, so I will have to order the
finer abrasives from Rio Grande (which is not a problem as I buy
from them occasionally anyway).

I tried them before and liked them, but was under the impression
that they were being discontinued, which was why I didn’t get into
using them more extensively, but I think perhaps it was just the
larger ones which were discontinued.

Do folks generally use the 14mm or the 19mm brushes with the
flexshaft, or does it just depend on what you’re making and what
sized recesses you need to get into?

Thanks for the advice.

Helen
UK


#20

Hi Jamie,

If you're using a flexshaft to polish, are you using something to
rake the flexshaft buff? Accumulated compounds can cause scratches
on full size polishers, hence the need to rake the buff. I imagine
that the same is true of flexshaft buffs. 

No I don’t rake, as I use bristle brushes rather than mops (although
I do have a couple of mini mops for rouge, which I very rarely use,
and keep them in plastic bags to avoid contamination). I use a fresh
bristle brush when the one I’m using wears out (which is very
quickly), and a fresh one for each compound. If I’m not careful, ie
if the brushes have no compound on them, the bristle (as in badger
bristle) brushes do push light scratches into the work by
themselves, but it’s not those scratches I’m talking about, and it
doesn’t happen as long as there’s compound on the brush.

I’m going to try the Scotch-Brite mini radial brushes again, as I’ve
found a supplier for them in the UK (Cousins jewellery supply). I
had thought they were being discontinued, after reading about it on
Orchid, but perhaps it was just the large ones for use with the
bench polisher which were discontinued due to lack of demand. Mind
you, I’m not sure how much of a polish you can achieve with them, or
if they are just for pre-polishing stages.

Helen
UK