View Full Version : Polishing with buffing wheel

02-28-2005, 07:43 PM
Northern tools had an 8" buffing wheel and a tube of rouge in the "bargain bin" and I couldn't help myself. The rouge is for polishing out scratches in non-ferrous metal but I tried it out on my steel shaper handle. I had been cleaning handles with a wire brush but this rig really left a nice shine! I can imagine what I'd get with the proper rouge. Now I have the general purpose grinder, a belt sander/grinder with the polishing wheel and now I want a tool and cutter grinder. I really want a dedicated polishing machine. Any ideas for a cheap one and some polishing advice? I could really get into this http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif Especially with the south bend...

Hoffman in Warner Robins Ga

02-28-2005, 08:43 PM
Saw this one on ebay. A little pricey, but it is a Baldor and being new, it should last for many years. (1/4 hp)

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=42266&item=4361268026& rd=1&ssPageName=WDVW (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=42266&item=4361268026&rd=1&ssPageName=WDVW)

1/3 hp...


[This message has been edited by egpace (edited 02-28-2005).]

02-28-2005, 08:52 PM
Brownells Inc. carries lots of buffing & polishing equipment. They have a toll-free tech line staffed with people who can help you with almost any question you might have:


02-28-2005, 09:11 PM
All I can tell you is this .
It's one of the most dangerouse and hazerdous things you will ever do.
Wear a full face shield and leather apron sleves rolled up.....extraction fan should be on behind the polishing machine.
Things can get dragged out of your hands and end up either getting frown into your face or right across the shop.
Especially with awkwordly shaped stuff.
I have a two inch scar right down the side of my nose ...that's how I know.
Always let the object your polishing drag on the wheel...never polish against the direction of the wheel.
Always keep edges of metal from catching by letting the wheel drag over them.
Polish in different directions in a cross hatch patern.
Polish with harsh abrasive first and finish off with fine.
You should have a few sets of wheels one for each grade of abrasive.
stitched hard wheels for the first stage .....
Going onto unstitched for second stage and final finishing with a mop.
Push against the object being polished with ever lighter pressure as you reach the final stages ..and dont keep it on one place for to long.
Final stage is polished all in one direction.
All wheels should be kept away from each other to avoid cross contamination of abrasives.
8 inch wheel should ideally have a speed of 3000 rpm.
Induction motors prefered....safer
Be prepaired... it's a dirty job that will have lint from the wheels hanging around all surfaces of your shop.
There are different compounds/abrasives for every metal......means you need even more wheels.
Tripoli is the most widely avalable polishing compound.
There are plastic type abrasives that come in a sealed sausage.....
These are the best......they are melted onto the wheel by you pushing very hard until the wheel almost stalls.
these will give good results faster.....and only require two stages of polishing.
polishing can produce chrome like sheen on almost any metal......you can even get polishes that leave a saturn finish...or brushed finish.
remember be carefull.
all the best..mark

02-28-2005, 09:44 PM
Aboard said it really well. I would just add that you need some horsepower unless it's just small stuff. I have a 1 horse grinder that I removed the guards from. And I think another horsepower would be even better.


02-28-2005, 09:46 PM
Cheapest way is to rig up an arbor with multi-step pulley belt drive from a scrap motor. 3650 rpm motor (direct drive, not belt) will do for most work, but speed options are sometimes nice. A Baldor is the nicest way to go, if you don't mind the ante. If you're serious about polishing, equip your arbor/motor/ whatever with taper spindles. There's a reason you will never see anything except taper spindles in a jewelery shop. Each compound needs its own set of buffs to prevent cross-contamination. The workpiece *and* your hands must be completely cleaned between each compound. Polishing a ring, for instance, requires 2 compounds with 2 buffs each at a _minimum_. Taper spindles make the necessary changes as quick as possible.

The prime source for buffs and compounds would be your local jewelry supplier (check the yellow pages), followed by mail order suppliers such as Rio Grande, Gesswein, Romanoff, etc.

For prep sanding before polishing, I highly recommend a Scotch-Brite 6" EXL-2S-FN wheel. Works great on everything from tool steel to sterling silver.

As an example for you strictly ferrous metal guys, a typical sequence for polishing a hammer face for cold forging precious metals would start with the EXL wheel, then go to tripoli on a 6" (or larger) stitched buff. Thoroughly clean hammer and hands, then use Zam on another 6" stitched buff. Thoroughly clean hammer and hands again, then final polish with green rouge on another 6" buff (usually not stitched). This will give a mirror finish.

A classic mistake is to proceed to a finer abrasive (e.g. tripoli to rouge) before achieving a completely even finish with the coarser compound. Polishing is just a matter of creating successively finer scratches, so it pays to remove that one that "just might get by" with the coarser abrasive instead of getting impatient. BTW, scratches are visible under magnification on any polished surface, even diamond.

02-28-2005, 09:57 PM
(Continued -- Got to the point where my computer wouldn't let me see the end of that litle window)

Yeah it _is_ dirty, but the results are immediate and tangible.

a_e is absolutely right about eye protection, too many people leave this to luck. I use safety glasses and a magnifying visor, so I can _really_ see what I'm doing. I mostly stick to 6" wheels and never use more than 1/2 HP. Then again, I'm not doing car bumpers, either. I really don't think you would need more than 1/2 HP for lathe parts.

Dust collection is a whole 'nuther subject. A shop vac won't work, but go ahead and try it, all the rest of us have. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

Hoffman, when you finish shining up your South Bend, mine could use a little attention, too. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif


02-28-2005, 10:00 PM
I have several arbors with diffenent wheels they are powered by old washing machine motors they work good and are cheep to build

Matt in AK

02-28-2005, 10:38 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by aboard_epsilon:
it's a dirty job that will have lint from the wheels hanging around all surfaces of your shop.</font>
Ditto that. Several years ago I had the brilliant idea of putting a buffing wheel on the bench grinder in my shop. I went at a job hot and heavy for about an hour. When I paused for a break, I discovered my whole shop was covered in linty dust. Live and learn!

02-28-2005, 10:50 PM
you can get tapered arbors from a jewelry supply store (ie-silversmithing, not beads)...should cost you about 6 bucks or so.

a heck of a lot easier than making one.

they'll have them in different sizes for different shaft diameters...


02-28-2005, 11:51 PM
I street rodded a 1941 Chev in 1991 and it had all stainless steel trim around the windows, hood, and belt line. I polished it all with a polishing kit I bought from Eastwood.http://www.eastwoodco.com/jump.jsp?itemType=CATEGORY&itemID=432 I'm still using the buffing wheels and rouge. Grizzly also sells the stuff you need. I set up a 1/2hp electric motor with a arbor attachment on the shaft and use a foot operated switch. Mark is right on in his cautions and uses.

03-01-2005, 01:17 AM
8" Hard Felt Polishing Wheel are great!
dangerous and hazardous is to true
ask me some day about the BIG buck bowie
knife that got away.
http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//tongue.gif http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//tongue.gif

Have Fun
Be Safe http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

03-01-2005, 03:45 AM
The one thing that gives me trouble when buffing is static build up. It has made me drop parts. It gets so dry here in the winter that static will build to ridiculous levels. I still haven't figured out a way to deal with that. I hate static sparks. I have spent way too much time working on high voltage equipment so when I do get shocked it momentarily scares me. I once had a 25,000 volt DC shock from an old 26" color TV high voltage lead that was faulty. I couldn't even remember my name for a couple of minutes.

03-01-2005, 04:28 AM
Evan, we had a similar problem at work with a label winding machine. Our solution was to get a static wristband with a curly cord that electonic people use to prevent static damage. The operator hooks it onto the frame of the winder -- no static. Another way would be to get some conductive mat or vinyl(sp) and a conductive footstrap (used in electronic assembly factories) that way you wouldnt need to plug in.

03-01-2005, 04:35 AM
The problem with the wrist or other strap is forgetting it. Either forgetting to hook up or to unhook it. Almost as irritating as the static.

03-01-2005, 10:26 AM
Where can you get 'conductive mat'? And an ankle strap.

Thought about the wrist strap but don't want to deal with anything dangling around my 1 horse buffer.


03-01-2005, 12:46 PM
Get "Gunsmith Kinks #1" from Brownell's. It discusses buffing in great detail.

03-01-2005, 04:16 PM
Wear a respirator when buffing. A heavy leather apron, steel metatarsal sheilds and kevlar chaps are appropriate.

A co-worker in the early 70's broke his thumb when a polisher caught the part he was polishing.