In the Buff

Polishing can be a real time-consuming process, especially for unusually shaped items (or at least items that are not flat).  You can resort to the old elbow grease and a cloth, but many solutions offer a mechanical way to move the cloth against the work.

Mounting a swansdown mop in a hand drill certainly works, and allows you to get into all sorts of places, or bring the mop to bear against a piece turning on the lathe.

What would be useful, is having a set of cloth wheels, each with a differing amount of softness so as you get softer and softer, and charging the cloth with finer and finer particles you can achieve a superb finish, irrespective of the shape or complexity.

And that is what I saw when I visited the Roving Reporter recently.  And so I ordered one of my own from McJing Tools, for a whole $80.

The contraption consists of a bar with a MT2 taper at one end (compatible with most lathes and drill presses), and a dimpled end at the other that can engage with a live centre.

Photo 13-08-13 8 43 52

Very easy to mount and remove as required, or left set up if you have a spare old lathe lying around. (No, I don’t mean to say I have a DVR sitting around spare!)  When I have the new shed up and running, this will likely be found mounted on a Jet mini lathe I have.

Each wheel is marked for the compound that should be used on it, and from left to right is tripoli, white diamond, and wax.  (In the picture below the white diamond and the wax have been swapped).  I suspect that white diamond doesn’t contain diamonds, but is a finer grade than tripoli, which makes it pretty fine!

Photo 13-08-13 8 44 09 Photo 13-08-13 8 45 33There is no speed rating supplied for the wheels, but I”d tend to say anything over about 1000RPM is starting to push it.  I tested it up to 2000RPM, and although it was fine, I suspect it would significantly shorten the life of the wheels.

There is a lock nut on one side (seen in the photo above) to stop the direction of the lathe loosening off the nut.  I tried the contraption spinning backwards (reverse on the lathe), and that worked well – might source another nut so I can have a lock nut on either end, so I can go forward or reverse as a please.

I didn’t have anything particular to test it on, so I used the underside of one of my scrapers.  Now I have a very shiny scraper!

12 Responses

  1. can you use the same set up for polishing metal and wood or does some form of cross contamination affect the finish. ie stain wood from say aluminium?

    • Generally regarded as a bad idea, as yes, you can get cross-contamination. When a object is polished, it is still shedding particles, which can then become embedded in the next object’s finish.

      In practice, not sure if I will worry too much with mine – it will be rare to be doing anything other than timber.

  2. Looks like the one J R Beall makes, the same guy who makes the Pen Wizard, he demo’s it on youtube

  3. Strikes me as being highly dangerous with no guarding

    • Hi James,

      Really it isn’t, or rather no more dangerous than the lathe itself, or a drill press. (And in general I’d be quite prepared to say a lot safer than either of those, and neither of those have guards either. One even involves very sharp objects bought into contact with a high speed spinning object!) The cloths themselves are soft, even at speed. You can put your hand on it without an issue.

      Still, standard workshop safety applies – no gloves, no long sleeves, no uncontrolled long hair.

  4. Ah, that’s exactly what I need. x1 ordered.

    • Hi scott… nothen personal other that my oldies (long jons) still fit me!
      am in me fully lined shed atm, Small gas heater and worrying wood. .ie. branch of ash that I am atemping to make into a pair of walking sticks/staffs. No sky lights and no drips. Outside temp is approx. 7.2 Inside temp approx. 18.

  5. I don’t mind a buff, but back on shed insulation..I . found 2 pairs of cotton long-johns from when I was an all weather motorcyclist. Close to 30 years ago.They’re great in the (my) shed of an evening!

    • Heh, I don’t fit any of my all weather motorcycle gear from 13 years ago!

      Damn – has it been that long???! Got my motorcycle license at 15, and rode bikes for the next 15 years. Would love to have another.

  6. Got mine at 18. Sold me last one cos it did not have shed space approx 120000 ks later. (3 bikes) But my long johns are still working in shed.!

    • I started on a Honda XL250, moved to a CB400, then my all time favourite, a CX400C, (and had a CX500 for parts), then finally a CB750.

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