What Is Crocus Cloth?

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Crocus cloth is similar to emery cloth, with a fine grit made of iron oxide.
Crocus cloth is similar to emery cloth, with a fine grit made of iron oxide. (Image: Pavel Klimenko/Hemera/Getty Images)

Crocus cloth, despite is flowery name, is an abrasive material similar to a sandpaper or emery cloth. This abrasive is made from iron oxide adhered to a cloth backing, making it more durable than sandpaper. Crocus cloth's abrasive particles are so fine that this material is used after other abrasives, such as sandpaper, have smoothed a surface as much as possible. Fine metal work such as jewelry is a typical application for crocus cloth, but it may also be used on wood or plastic.

Crocus Cloth Composition

Crocus cloth is a durable fabric coated with very fine particles of iron oxide, also known as ferrous oxide or rust. Crocus cloth's abrasive is so fine it is available in grits such as 1,000, which feels very smooth compared to a coarse, 80-grit sandpaper. The fabric used on crocus cloth is designed to resist tears, so it can handle a good deal of manipulation -- working around curves and edges -- before the cloth backing tears or fails. Sandpaper, on the other hand, may tear or develop a hole during use.

When to Use

Crocus cloth is considering a finishing tool, used to remove fine flaws and imperfections after a project has already been sanded smooth. This material comes in handy on fine metal work, such as jewelry, and also on lathe-turned wood or plastic. Since sanding generally begins with the roughest grits and moves down to the finest, crocus cloth may be the final step in sanding or abrading before polishing or adding a finish to the piece, depending on the project.

Usage and Availability

Crocus cloth may be used wet or dry, depending on the application at hand. The cloth flexes and wraps around curves and bends into crevices if folded, allowing you to sand areas that are hard to reach otherwise. Sheets of crocus cloth area available at automotive-supply stores. Specialty retailers also sell it by the roll.

Jewelry Polishing

Crocus cloth helps achieve a high level of polish on metal jewelry, including precious metals. It is used like a sandpaper at first, following coarser grits. Once the piece is sanded as smooth as possible, buffing begins, following a similar procedure as sanding, with the coarsest abrasives first. Crocus is available in a compound form, applied to a buffing wheel to achieve a high level of sheen on the metal. After the crocus compound, a rouge compound on another buffing wheel adds even more shine.

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