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Thread: Help! Pooling while polishing mirror finish

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2022

    Default Help! Pooling while polishing mirror finish

    Hello! Hoping this all makes sense, I am trying to get a mirror finish on my pieces but I keep getting this pooling in areas that the dremel can't get to for example under bails like pictured or on the back plat under the ring shank. My process is after taking out of the pickle, give it a light brush with a brass brush then add patina/polish back highlights. Then put in the tumbler for an hour to work harden and go in with tripoli on a calico mop in my dremel (note: it takes a LONG time and compound & the metal gets really hot) then brush it with washing up liquid / brass brush and then finish with rouge (which is super quick, literally a once over)

    I've tried skipping the tripoli and going straight in with rouge but get the same problem of it taking ages, getting really hot & pooling.

    Everything I've read online suggest calico mops with tripoli but open to suggestions!

    Thanks in advance!

    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Central London


    Dear Steph,

    I thought I might pick up on some of your points, in case my comments help you to improve your finish.

    1. Brass brushes should always be used wet and soapy, or they will deposit a thin layer of dull brass.
    2. It is a common myth that tumblers work harden pieces. Work hardening of metals is brought about by changing their shape, for instance by twisting, beating or rolling.
    3. As you have observed, polishing flat areas becomes difficult if there are obstacles in the way. Using a more flexible rotary tool, such as a soft brush with compound, or a set of radial disks say in four grades will make it easier.
    4. You must plan to ditch your Dremel. They are far too speedy for jewellery. Your work is beautiful and deserves better. If you need to conserve your cash, you might look at Marathon micromotors online.
    5. Lastly, it is difficult to see from a photograph, but some of the discoloration you show might be due to firescale. This is a deep deposit of copper oxides caused by overheating during soldering, using a sharp pointed oxidizing flame. The result is a blue-grey discoloration which can only be removed by aggressive polishing, but is best avoided in the first place.
    If any of these points need expanding, please ask. Dennis.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011


    Hi Steph
    I agree with Dennis and would add that getting a mirror finish over a large area is difficult with only a hand held polisher.
    I don’t have a tumbler but work hardening is not thought to be one of its benefits.
    I’m a bristle brush user for a first polish of most things especially if there are difficult areas to get into. It’s also useful for cutting into firestain!
    I’ve just purchased some radial discs for the first time so will see how they go. I’ve moved to menzerna polishes which I find give a really good finish.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2011


    Hi Steph.
    Polishing is seldom to never taught as a separate issue in jewellery classes, it's more of a throw-away 'now go polish it' I've been doing making for decades but I learned a huge amount even so (and my polishing improved off the scale) with Stephen Goldsmith class. Very highly recommended. - Learn to do it properly and with the proper kit.
    Author: Pearls A Practical Guide

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2022


    Thanks for the tips! I’ll try giving them a soapy wash with a brash brush a go - ahead be also read that using an ultra sonic cleaner before tumbling can help, does anyone know if this is correct?

    I use yellow radial discs to remove patina from the highlights on my pieces but they tend to leave it with more of a satin finish so I’m hesitant to try them during polish but I’ll give it a go on some scrap silver.

    Thanks again!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2021


    The colours of radial discs very according to manufacturer I believe.

    I use the 3M brand and yellow is 80 grit which is coarse. It's the very first stage for me. I then go on to blue which is 400 and finish with mint green which is 14000. There are more in between as well but these are the 3 I use routinely.

    The yellow will give a satin finish. Try some of the higher grit discs.


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