Archive | Polishing

Day 26 Using Polishing Brushes

Polishing is something that everyone that works on jewelry will have to do, and there are a few tools that will make your job a lot easier. Today we will look specifically at polishing brushes, soft, medium, and stiff brushes and when to use them.

First let’s look at applications for the brushes. You can get the either Mounted on a mandrel or Unmounted. I prefer the unmounted ones, because I use them on a Screw Mandrel or on a Polishing Machine Mandrel. They both work about the same, you can try them both, but I like the unmounted ones better, they are easier to store, (less bulky) and quicker to load and unload on a mandrel.

Med Mounted

Let’s look at how each one works:

Soft Brushes: Work good for rounded surfaces, areas with grooves, and areas where “crispness” is not an issue. I like to use these brushes with an aggressive compound on “organic” shapes to take out scratches and blend curves. If you think about how this brush works, you are actually using the side of the bristle to polish because when you apply it to the metal, it is soft and the bristles fold over easily. You can also use a Red Rouge Compound on these brushes and softly go over areas to bring back a bright shine.


Stiff Brushes: Work good for getting inside tight areas, like inside of gallery work and in between prongs on settings. These brushes work good at getting into sharp corners and inside edges. Use a medium compound on this wheel like a White Diamond Tripoli Compound or Graystar Compound. If you think about how these brushes work, the bristles are stiff and the ends of the bristles work better because they do not fold over as easy.


Medium Brushes: Work good for all around areas. I like these for most applications. This brush reacts to pressure much better, if you need the soft blending action of a soft brush, use an aggressive compound and add more pressure. Add less pressure and it will get into tight areas like in between prongs and corners. Keep a couple of these around with different compounds on them, Gray and Red for pre-polishing and finishing. Do not mix compounds.


I am sorry I didn’t get any good “at the bench” photos, but I hope you can understand. I will talk more on polishing at a later date.

Now go make something shiny!!!


Day 15 Silver Tarnish Remover

Silver Tarnish Remover

 Rings 01

Happy Father’s Day!!

Today being Father’s Day and me being a father, I am going to not spend so much time in front of my computer or my bench today, So allow me to give a quick tip, to “Phone one in” so to say.

If you work in Sterling Silver, and have any pieces around that have been sitting for a while, you probably notice they get tarnished and dark, well here is a way to remove the tarnish without taking a polishing wheel or polishing cloth to them.

Take an Aluminum pie pan, add hot water, approximately 2 cups hot water or enough to fill pie the pan. Add 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon Water Softener Powder, You can use Baking Soda as well. (to use a larger aluminum pan, increase the salt, water softener/baking soda, and hot water accordingly) Place pieces (touching) in the water and watch the magic happen.
Be careful with antiqued pieces and pieces with stones! This should only be used with just metal pieces.
Dry off and enjoy!

Thanks again for following along on this journey of mine, I hope you are having as much fun as I



Day 10 Polishing Tips


Today will be a quick tip, known by most, but very important if you want a quality finish on your jewelry. You spend a lot of time with your design, layout, stone selection, etc. but if the execution of your finishing isn’t done correctly, you might be disappointed with the end result. Last week we touched on some prep work for polishing with filing, sanding, and rubber wheeling.  Today we will touch on polishing and Polishing Wheel ediquite. I usually use 2 types of polishing compound on silver,  Graystar for pre-polishing and Red Rouge for final polishing.

Graystar is a good compound to remove the fine scratches and blemishes left over from casting , tumbling, and handwork.  Use a dedicated wheel for Graystar and only use this compound on this wheel.

Wheel Gray

Work the piece against the wheel in a “crossing” pattern, first polishing in one direction, then changing the direction of the piece and polishing in another direction. Avoid polishing the piece in the same direction, or this will cause “grooving” your piece from polishing in the same direction with the wheel. When you have gotten the piece to a point where all of the blemishes are removed, it is time to put the piece in the Ultrasonic Cleaner. You want to remove all of the Graystar before final polishing, if there is any compound left on the piece, it will affect the final polish.

Next it is time to final polish your piece. Use a dedicated wheel for your Red Rouge and only use this compound on this wheel.

Wheel Red

If there is any other compound on this wheel, it will contaminate this wheel and it will not perform at its best. Again, polish in a crossing pattern to get the luster you desire. Work with firm pressure at first, then lightly to finish.  Add piece to your Ultrasonic Cleaner to remove compound off piece and use a Steam Cleaning Machine to finish cleaning.

Again, I cannot express it enough, have a dedicated wheel for your pre-polish (Graystar) and your final polishing wheel (Red Rouge).

At a later date, I will dive into a more “Detailed” process of felt buffs, lapping wheels, brushes, etc.

Enjoy your day!


Day 8 Pre-Polishing Tips (Finishing)

               rubber wheel

Today we will touch on a couple of pre-polishing tips. A few technical details in your pre-polishing will make a huge difference in the quality of your finished jewelry. Polishing “Prep” will make your finishing job easier always. spending a few extra minutes with attention to detail will save time later, and give you a much better product. Depending on what your piece is like to begin with will decide how you approach this. If you do not take time to prep your pieces before polishing, you will polish harder and more aggressive than you need to, and lose most or all of your detail, making your pieces look overworked and washed away.

First, tumbling, if you are working with a casted piece, you will have a casting surface that is a little rough. If you have a Vibratory Tumbler, I would recommend a 2 stage tumbling process, the first stage I usually tumble in a Ceramic Media overnight for 8 – 12 hours. I have my tumbler hooked up to a timer, set it up overnight and get it in the morning. This will remove the casting surface and give you a consistent surface. Then I place the pieces in the same vibratory tumbler with STAINLESS STEEL MEDIA MIXED SHOT for 1-2 hours.


media ceramic media steel

What the Steel does is “burnish” the surface and give you a shiny finish in those hard to get to places. A Magnetic Pin Tumbler also works great for this operation, and will do the job much quicker. Magnetic tumbler media is a lot “finer” and will get into those hard to reach places, like between prongs and fine detail, much better. If you are not dealing with casted products and the surface is a little better to begin with, you can go right to the steel shot or magnetic pin tumbler.

Tumbler2 media pin

If you do not have a tumbler, then work in “stages”. If your piece has scratches in it, you will have to remove the scratches before you start polishing. depending on the size and depth of the scratches will determine how aggressive you will work the piece. if you have deeper scratches, start with a file. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my favorite go-to file is a #4 cut Barrette Needle File, it has a good cut to it, it has “safe sides” meaning you can place the edge or side of the file against en edge of the piece, and it won’t leave a mark. If you get one of these files, I suggest you modify the sides of your file. The teeth of the file do hang over the side a little bit, so I rub it on a wetstone to remove the burs or teeth that hang over, then polish it on a piece of paper with Yellow Rouge on it, the same way I polish my graver blades. (see day 3 lesson)

Filing File sandpaper

File sandpaper2

file prep file prep2

After I file the scratches or defects out, I cut a small piece of sandpaper (400-600 grit) and wrap it around the end of the same file and sand over the area I filed. You can also attack the areas with Sanding Abrasive Discs. These discs come in different grit and work wonderful. They snap on and off quickly. I would suggest a variety of these as well. The aluminum oxide ones do a great job as well. Also rubber wheels and knife edge Cratex Wheels. You can also get these in different grits.

sandpaper hand sandpaper dics rubber wheel

One thing I am trying to show you is there are different ways to go about getting the same results. you will develop your favorite processes, I am giving you some ideas to go about it, but if you skip the preping process, you work might suffer. Use some or all of these processes to prep your pieces before polishing and you will have a much better polishing experience, and a better looking piece in the end. I will go over some polishing tips soon, so stay tuned.

Now have a Great Day!