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A Few Polishing and Buffing Tips and Video Clips


Except for new buffs, most buffing wheels should be raked out before each use and periodically during use, to break down and remove old compound and metal particles.

Industrial buffing rakes do have their place and are needed in the industry. However, for home and small shop use they are not required. Currently industrial buffing rakes retail for an average of $15.00. A good wooden handled wire brush will cost you about $3.00. Saving you an average of $12.00. Plus a wire brush provides you a few more advatages.

The bristles on a wire brush will provide a much finer raking action on the face of the buff. This will break down the old compound and metal particles much smaller without tearing into the cloth, while leaving a finer uniform nap finish on the buff. Simply use a wire brush to rake over the face of the wheel and around each side about a 1/2". This should only take about 5 to 10 seconds one or two times depending on how loaded the wheel is.

Other items have been used for rakes such as, a flat blade screwdriver and hacksaw blades. However, these will not

provide a fine nap finish and will cut into the cloth wearing out your wheels much faster costing you more money.


When applying compound, hold the part under the wheel to catch the excess compound, rather than it being wasted on the floor. Compound is made to do the work, let it do the job.

By doing this, you are actually applying less compound. Your parts get done faster and your compound and buffs last longer. If the item you will be buffing has irregular shapes that will require you to bend the buff into and/or around corners, make sure to apply some compound a little ways onto the sides of the buff as well as the face.

You will find it helpful to slip a collar(s) (spacer) on the motor shaft before mounting your wheels.

This is to position the wheel(s) as far away from the motor as possible, which will give you more clearance for working.

You could make your own spacers out of some thick wall steel tubing in several different lengths depending on the shaft width. Be sure to sand off any sharp edges on the spacers sides before using them.

The crosscut is one of the most important techniques because it affects most every aspect of polishing and buffing and provides many advantages, such as:
1. Vastly decreasing your completion time.
2. Finding imperfections easier and faster.
3. Identifying polishing and buffing issues with less time
    and frustration.
4. Saves you money in product costs.
5. All polishing and buffing procedures are competed
    with much less effort.
For the value a crosscut provides, it is extremely simplistic in its function and almost effortless to perform. A crosscut is simply changing direction each time you change a polishing or buffing procedure (Fig. 1). Polishing from 120 to 180 grit.

Fig. 1
Although in figure 1 we have drastically changed the angle for your viewing recognition, you only want to change the direction by a few degrees. Just enough to see the previous lines have been removed by the current procedure.
Without doing a crosscut, you have no idea if you have removed the previous lines. Thus you would either be spending more time and material cost than necessary and/or these coarser lines will show up later in your procedures. Causing you to redo the item, wasting more time and material, not to mention the frustration. Missed imperfections usually show up when you get to your buffing procedures.

Another common practice that will void your advantages of a crosscut is using a DA or orbital sander. These will make small circular line patterns that make it next to impossible for you to see line removal from one grit to the next. This practice works great for auto bodywork, though, not for polishing and buffing to a mirror finish.

On the left in (Fig 2) is a close up of an orbital pattern and the right side shows a crosscut. You can easily see the two line patterns in the crosscut.

Fig. 2
Keep in mind buffing compounds will remove sanding lines of 240/400 grit, depending on the type of abrasive used.


It should be noted that compounds are not designed to be mixed on any one wheel.

Discoloration, hazing, cloudiness and other issues will result. To avoid this, mark the type of compound being used on the side of each buffing wheel and only use that compound on the wheel thereafter. Nothing fancy, just mark a letter or two of the compound name on the side of the wheel. Showing left to right in Fig. 3) Stainless, Color and Tripoli.

Fig. 3
If you are using more than one coloring compound just mark something like (W) for white or (G) for green and so forth.

When polishing or buffing parts with narrow edges, try to keep the edge mostly inline with the buffing wheel.

This will help either side of the edge from being caught. For the best finish, keep the part completely inline with the buff on your final color buffing procedure. Note, doing a Crosscut on narrow edges maybe difficult. Take your time.

The information on this page is a small segment
from our detailed guidebook
"Custom Metal Polishing"

How To: Polishing & Buffing
Tips and Video Clips

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