How to Polish Agate by Hand

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Agates take time to polish by hand.
Agates take time to polish by hand. (Image: PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

An agate is usually a portion of volcanic rock with brilliantly colored bands, defining the different siliceous layers deposited over many thousands of years. Agates, once polished, make beautiful pieces of art and are frequently used in jewelry and other applications. However, they are very hard stones, much harder than most stones recommended for polishing by hand. They can be polished by hand, but the process will take much longer than for stones that are less hard.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Stone soap
  • Sponge
  • Sandpaper
  • Denim cloth
  • Polishing powder

Remove any dirt or debris from the stone by washing it with a sponge and stone soap in lukewarm water. Then dry it with your cloth.

Dip the agate in water before sanding.

Rub the surface of the stone with a harsh grain of sandpaper, such as 50 grit, if it has never before been polished.

Keep dipping the stone in water to make sure it stays wet while you're sanding it. Once the stone is the shape you want, move up to 160-grit sandpaper.

Rub over the scratches made with the coarser sandpaper to remove them and reduce their size.

Continue dipping the stone in water to keep it wet as you sand.

Use finer and finer grits of sandpaper in stages, up until 1500 grit.

Mix up powder polish and polish the agate with the polish and a piece of denim cloth until it achieves the shine you're looking for. Powder polish can be found in most hardware stores.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do not use any household chemicals when cleaning agate. If stone soap is unavailable, use only lukewarm water.
  • To keep your agate in good condition, avoid prolonged exposure to extreme heat. Store it inside a soft cloth or fabric-lined container.

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