How to Buff and Polish Jewelry

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Polishing is an important skill when making art jewelry. Polishing can be done by hand using sand paper. Many artists making hollow ware prefer hand polishing. There are, however, buffing/polishing machines that have been developed to make the job of polishing quicker and easier. This tutorial will explain the steps needed to polish your jewelry using a flex shaft, Dremel or buffing machine.

Things You'll Need

  • Bobbing
  • White Diamond
  • Red Rouge
  • Buffs
  • Rake (to clean the buffs)
  • Polishing Machine (buffing machine, flex shaft, Dremel)

To begin polishing, it is necessary to first clean off the buffing wheels with a buff rack. Hold the rake gently against the lower quarter of the wheel to clean off excess debris.

Polishing is a three step process. You begin with bobbing, the most abrasive. Proceed to use white diamond. Finish with red rouge. Since you are moving from more abrasive materials to less abrasive materials you should be spending significantly more time on the bobbing wheel than the red rouge wheel.

Never mix polishing materials. Clean your piece between each step with an ammonia based cleaner, such as Simple Green. Dry with a soft, non abrasive cotton cloth or new soft bristled tooth brush

Moving from one wheel directly to the next will cause the second wheel to be contaminated with the first more abrasive material. Once contaminated the wheel can never again be used effectively with the less abrasive material.

When polishing, it is important to move the piece in many directions with even pressure while polishing to avoid unsightly gauges in the art jewelry.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some artists like to use Zam or similar polishing compound for a one step polish.
  • To hand polish using sand paper, see our ehow How to Use Sand Paper at http://www.ehow.com/how_4805483_use-sand-paper.html or click the link in the resource section of this article.
  • It is extremely important to wear protective gear when using a buffing and polishing machine. Necessary safety gear consists of a full face mask and a particulate respirator.

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