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Polishing with Power Tools Class with Joe Silvera


Learn to finish your jewelry using a Flex Shaft or Dremel to create a high polish finish on your next project. Instructor, Joe Silvera goes over using a variety of polishing bits, and the power tools you’ll use to make it all come together.

 

hello I'm Joe Silveira and we're here at the Silveira jewelry school in Berkeley

California with Beaducation to show you how to polish your jewelry up to a beautiful finish using power tools like

flex shafts and Dremels and I'm excited to show you how to do this how to make your designs better with the kind of

finish that you want them to have so you can get rid of scratches fire scale even remove patina from the highlights so

that you have beautiful contrast on your pieces now we're here in a big studio space inside of a building full of other

artists and sometimes they're noisy so you'll hear doors slamming or little things off in the background but stay

focused so I can show you exactly how to use your power tools for the greatest benefit for your jewelry thanks let's get started the first thing

we need to talk about is safety how to properly use your tools without hurting yourself so number one wear safety

glasses I know it sucks to wear safety glasses over your regular glasses so

think about getting prescription safety glasses so you'll actually use them and you can even tell your optometrist what

you're doing so that they can adjust the prescription so you can see more clearly at your normal working distance but your

safety glasses should have side shields and be a little bit thicker in case something happens now the next thing is

that you need to make sure that this tool is away from anything it can wind up like your hair clothing or loose

jewelry so make sure all that stuff is tucked back and tied back when you start it up make sure you know where the tool

is that it's in your hand and a neutral position that it's not in your lap against your apron or against your

clothing work and tie stuff up I know it's tempting that you don't want to stop what you're doing and you know turn

off the tool when you need to scratch your head but believe me it's not a good idea so keep the tool out where you can see

it when you have to do anything else and safest of all if you need to stop or concentrate on something else or if

anything goes wrong just turn it off take your foot off the pedal or turn off the motor so that the tool is off and

you can take care of what you need to take care of and I know you can be

tempted to polish stuff like loose chain or loose jewelry with a flex shaft or a

big polishing motor but until you get proper training you need to be extremely careful with that stuff because it can

wrap around the tool and your finger and you can get hurt so till somebody shows you how to do that properly don't polish

loose chain let's get started on some jewelry which tool do you want to use

for polishing you have a couple of choices you can use a dremel or you can use a flex shaft machine let's take a

look at the Dremel first so this is your Dremel in its most basic form and

there's advantages and disadvantages one advantage it's a little less expensive

than the flex shaft especially if you're just using it like this if you add a lot of accessories to it to make it a better

tool like dremel sells its own flex shaft accessory that you can use to add

a smaller handpiece onto this you can hang up this motor and hold a smaller handpiece that adds money if you try to

add a foot pedal to this that's a little bit more if you add a better Chuck that's another little bit so you can

kind of end up for the for the money for the same cost as a flex shaft if you add

all those accessories to the Dremel you're basically spending them the same amount as buying a flex shaft now it's

smaller but you have to hold this in your hand when you're working so you're

holding the weight of the motor while you're polishing the speed dial is here

the only way to turn the Dremel on and off is to turn the speed dial on like that so that it's a little bit

inaccessible while you're working with the tool if you need to adjust the speed and then Dremel come with standard they

come with what's called a collet it's almost like a pin vise on the end and that only holds certain size shaft tools

if you really want to make the Dremel into a more versatile tool you'll take that call it off and it's a little cover

and instead install the dremel Chuck accessory what it does is it gives you a

real drill truck it's going to drill chuck on the end of the tool and it will

close completely down like this we're open completely so that

you can use different sized bits conveniently now obviously I have a little bit of bias I really do like the

flex shaft better so let's take a look at the flex shaft right now your other choice for a power tool is a flex shaft

machine and that's what you're seeing here it has a larger motor that's more powerful and has more torque so the tool

can keep moving even at slow speeds it comes with an actual flexible shaft so

this runs the power from the motor down the shaft and into a smaller more comfortable handpiece like this and it

comes with a foot pedal so that you can control turning on and off the motor with your foot which makes it more

convenient when you're changing bits or if you need to stop intermittently while you're polishing or stone setting so for

all those reasons this is really why you see most jewelers having a flex aft at their bench or their workstation it's

just a much better tool and you can get a fordham or there are other models out

there as well economy models of flex shaft that start at lower prices so for about the same

cost as getting a dremel you could buy an economy starter flex shaft that's still a more powerful and better tool

for polishing and jewelry work

let's meet the polishing bits that we are going to use now I've selected bits

that are as home friendly and clean as possible these bits are called silicone

polishing wheels they're made of a rubbery material that can flex so they

have a little bit of flex to them they are from coarse to fine white coarse

black medium blue fine pink extra fine they come as unmounted

disks like this that need to be put onto a screw mandrel this specifically is a

screw mandrel that is reinforced to help prevent it from bending while you're working with it to mount one of these

wheels onto the screw mandrel you undo the screw if you've managed to keep hold

of the little washer you want to put that on one side like so that's going to

go on the side that goes towards the

shaft of the mandrel so I'm going to slip that on top like so

and you screw that in that gives a little bit of a buffer between the mandrel and the bit that you're working

with and that's how you mount it so that you can use it in the flex shaft these

bits are very good at removing metal polishing away defects like extra solder

fire scale deep scratches and as you go upwards they start producing a satin and

then mirror finish and because they're a little bit harder than some of the other bits the finish is brighter and more

burnished looking okay let's meet some of the other bits one of the least

expensive bits that you can use for polishing is a split mandrel it's a simple steel cylinder that has a slot in

it so that you can thread sand papers to use them as rotary tools so these are

normal hardware store sand papers you want to be able to buy them by specific grits so look for 180 grit 320 grit 600

grit as those grit numbers get higher the sandpaper gets finer and so does the finish from the sandpaper now the way

you use it is the sand paper gets threaded into the slot like so usually

when you're putting it in and it's in the flex shaft or the Dremel you'll be looking at the sandpaper like this the

right-hand side of the paper is short and you curl that around a little bit and you can even start it by wrapping it

around the mandrel like so and that will get it started for sanding these bits

are called radials and they're fantastic pieces to work with they're almost

completely dust free when you polish with them and they're very flexible so they can get around round wire details

texture without removing them and and yet still polish into the recesses so in

order here from left to right they go from coarse to finest this is white

equivalent to 120 grit sandpaper red equivalent to 220 grit sandpaper blue

400 grit peach which is considered six micron

and green one micron now you might not be used to things being rated in microns

for sandpaper but as you get very high up the scale they are rated in microns and the less number of microns the

higher the polish but that's not important the important thing is that it's peach and then green so white red

blue peach green you might want to just write that down at first so you remember which order to do them in and the more

you work with the radials the more you'll just have it memorized but they're fantastic tools now this is what

one radial looks like it's pretty weak by itself in fact you'd probably never

use just one radial by itself instead you would stack three to six of them on

a screw mandrel now they make a nice wide brush for working your metal the

way that you stack them on to the screw mandrel is important because they have to go in the right direction if they're

going in the right direction when the tool is turning you'll go with the direction of the bristles like this so

that they'll flex properly against the metal if you're going the wrong way you can see how the bristles Bend back and

they'll start breaking off and destroying the radial bristles so this

is correct this is incorrect how do you know how to put it on to the screw mandrel well if you look at the radial

and you're looking at it like this when you're loading it you want the points to be going to the right so let's grab a

screw mandrel and when I load this and put it on to the screw like so and look

down on it then the point should be going to the right the other way you can remember is if you look closely at the

back of the radial you can see there the logo says 3m and that has to point down

towards the shaft of the mandrel then have all the layers with the points going in the same direction and you will

loaded it correctly

these small polishing bits are called pin polishers and they're fantastic for getting into small detailed

areas like inside jump rings or the recesses of stone settings basically anywhere where you can't reach with

either the silicon polishing wheels or the radials so they come in two sizes these are the

3 millimeter pin polishers and these are the 2 millimeter pin polishers each one

needs its own special holder so these holders fit the 3 millimeters 3 these

holders fit the 2 millimeters the way the holder works and what these pins look like when you buy them is that this

part unscrews like its own little Chuck and the polishing pin itself looks

almost like a pencil lid or an eraser that you load in there but it's made of polishing abrasive so you can load that

into the holder like that to the height that you want it to stick out and then just tighten this down and then you can

load that into your dremel or flex shaft now the order of the colors are the same

whether you're using the 2 millimeter or 3 millimeter pin polishers so it goes

from black medium grit to brown fine

green extra fine and the same here black medium brown fine green extra fine

to load the flex shaft you use a Chuck key to open and close the Chuck

so the Chuck key inserts with the little bump here into the hole and then that

will turn the gears of the Chuck to open and close the keys like so so let's get a bit to put in there like this and then

you can turn the Chuck to tighten it like that turning the key now you can

see that the bit doesn't go in as far on the flex shaft but that should be nice and secure and tight up there we go a

little bit tighter that should be nice and secure when you're done to open it you turn the Chuck in the opposite

direction so it's righty tighty lefty loosey

when using power tools you need to brace your hands properly so that you can control the tools and you need to use

the bits right so that they're working correctly and efficiently to polish your metal so let's start with your hands

it's best to brace your hands against something like this bench pin so that you can control how far forward and

sideways you're moving and you can also then kind of focus down to this almost

like potato peeler motion as you're polishing like that so you might notice

that I kind of dock my thumb's together so I can lock my hands together but if you're trying to do this up in the air

we're holding one piece and another piece separately it's very hard to apply the tool exactly where you need it to go

so a common bad scenario for not being able to control the tool would be if you had a stone here and you're accidentally

running a coarse bit over and over on that stone so brace yourself so that you

can control where it goes now whenever you're using the tool you bring the bit

off the edge towards you like this you don't want to go off the edge away from you because usually that will make the

tool grab onto the edge and then suck its way down and around onto your fingers so always start in the middle of

the piece and come off the edge towards you and just turn the piece as you need to to get to different areas like that

whenever you work with bits you want to work with the bottom edge of most bits

most bits right here on the bottom you don't work on the face of the bit here

it's going to wear through it strangely and break through all these bristles for example so you work on the bottom edge

here so when you're applying it to your piece it's along this edge like that

now if you have scratches on your piece that you can see like that scratch right

there you want to sand and polish across the scratch that way you can really see

when the scratch disappears if you're going in the same direction as the scratch then eventually the texture from

this tool and what's left of the scratch are going to blend in making it look like the scratch disappeared but it

didn't when you go up to the next finer grit you'll see the scratch is still there so always try to to polish across

scratches the same thing applies when you go from a coarse bit to the next

finer bit so if I go from the white 120 grit radial to the red 220 grit I want

to turn the metal and the bit a little bit so that I'm going even at an angle

across the texture from the previous bit so always sand across the lines you left

from the previous bit just in the same way that you sand across the the scratches if any on your piece now the

biggest thing that I can advise you on because I see this all the time with students is to slow down apply pressure

and use the tools at the correct speed I'll watch students start to learn how to polish and I'll see them use the bits

too quickly removing this fast over the whole piece and they'll go through the entire range of bits from coarse to fine

and it still looks scratched up and hasn't gotten any sort of beautiful brilliant luster on it and that's

because they're going too fast so you slow down move just like this work areas

slowly to allow the tool time to polish and move into all the recesses and

polish the surface you're allowing the tool to rotate and do the work for you use pressure you can see how the bits

the bristles on this tool are flexing as I push into it right so that I'm

applying an even amount of pressure as I work to help the tool to polish and then use the correct speed for the tool for

example radials like a medium high speed so that they can work effectively

efficiently so let's see that on the back of this piece

see the difference now let's go on to seeing a workflow on some real pieces so

we're going to see the sequence of steps that you would take to polish something like this argenteum ring so I'm starting

with the split mandrel and I'm starting with 320 grit sandpaper this is the medium grit in general I start with the

medium grits to do what I call pre polishing I'm trying to get rid of fire scale and scratches and establish a nice

even surface to then take up to the finish that I want for example a high polish so when you start up the split

mandrel you want to use this at low speed and allow it to just wind itself around the the mandrel and then you can

insert it inside the ring like this to polish inside the band so it's very good

at frolicking inside range

that fits really well inside the ring for polishing it now you hold the ring

on the outside like this and you always

want to be looking at the side that you're polishing so don't polish on the side towards you that's hidden polish on

the metal that you can see

now I don't want to use the sandpaper on anything delicate like the rounded wire here or edges where I might scratch

stuff up that I don't mean to because it's a little bit blunt so I'm going to switch to the 600 grit and save those

edges for other tools but this will remove the scratches from the 320 grit

if you're polishing with the paper and it gets a little bit worn down and isn't working anymore you can just tear off

the little bit at the end get back to fresh paper Thanks he's going

now we're going to switch to a black silicon wheel the black silicon wheel is

the medium grit from the silicon wheel family and it does a good job of cleaning up joint lines extra solder all

sorts of defects like that ah well that's good to see so this was chucked a little bit incorrectly do you see how

it's wobbling so we want to stop open that up put it centered into the chuck

keys like so and that's more like it so

I'm using this now to get rid of the join line along this edge

so you can see how clean and satin finish that edges now and this is about

as dusty as these tools get just pretty low in comparison to the Rouge and

Tripoli and bobbing compound that's used traditionally in jewelry polishing now

the shape of the wheel the shape of this edge matters when you're polishing if this was a knife edge wheel with a sharp

edge it could indent and mark up the surface while I was trying to polish it so using a square edge for this flat

surface is better if the shape of the edge of the wheel is incorrect you can

change it you can modify it by using something like the back end of an inexpensive file to grind the shape to a

different profile now this gets a little messy so this again this is kind of where it gets dusty

you but basically I just put a 45 degree

angle on this tool now so that makes it easier to get deeper into the ring and to work on areas like this close to the

edge I'm getting rid of that scratch

that was there and the scraps on the other side

now I don't want to do any of these details again because this is still taking away metal so it could remove the

roundness of the wire or any of the details that I want to keep but it works really well on those surfaces as they

get used up they get smaller and these are handy for reaching inside of rings and things like this to get to areas

that you want to clean up so don't use them up set them aside and start a new wheel so that you can use these for

small spaces after doing some pre polishing on this ring now the surfaces

are more even for me to come in with the radials now I don't necessarily want to start with the coarsest radial if I

finished with the medium grit silicone wheel then the the marks that left

behind are kind of fine if I use this wheel then I could end up putting more

scratches into it so I'd rather start with a more medium grit so I'm going to take this white 120 grit wheel out I'm

going to start with the red 220 grit this is more like the medium range in

the radial family

- remember pressure move slowly and higher speed

now what you're looking for are all the lines from any of the previous tools or scratches to be gone and to just have a

nice even finish even texture from the wheel you're working with so you need to tilt the metal and look from different

angles to see if you can spot any scratches be careful when you're trying to reach into recesses or using the tool

in general that you don't bump into either the screw at the top and scratch your piece while you're working or hit

the Chuck and also scratch

now the reason I'm using the radials for this part is they're very good at sanding the surface they are not good at

removing solder or deep scratches without just basically sanding

everything so you use the black silicon wheels the sand papers and stuff to kind of establish a surface and then these

will do the rest of the finishing they're also good at getting into recesses and around wires like this

you turn the wheel so that it's going in the same direction as the recesses so that it gets down in there

don't forget to do the sides now you have to do everything

and the radios will flex the way around all these details on the top

so now I'm going to keep going with the radials in order so the next one after the red is the blue 400 grit as I polish

I'm looking for anything that might have been missed by a previous wheel and taking note of it and the nice thing

with power tools is you can just go back and polish that little part blend it back up to where you were and then keep

going

remember to turn so that you're going slightly across the lines you made from the previous wheel

the metal will get a little hot while you're working this is normal if you're using the right amount of pressure

as radial wheels wear out they get smaller and nubby or like this they

still work but they're just not quite as effective as reaching for reaching it to the recesses and they might get a little

bit slower so at this point you might want to have a fresh wheel handy just in case

so now I'm going to finish up with the green radials now if you've been doing a good job it just gets faster and faster

with each stage of the polishing

so some of the tight areas in here couldn't be reached with the radials so I'm going to use the pin polisher to

just brighten them up a little bit but to make it easier to get in there I'll use that same trick with the file to

grind this down to a finer point

so this is a two millimeter pin polisher

and that does a nice job of getting into those tight areas well here framed in my

dirty fingers is a sterling charm that's been oxidized been patina'd with silver

black and now I want to bring back the highlights and you can do that with your power tools so this is the pink

polishing wheel from the silicone family which I want to use because it's hard so it won't get into the recesses

unlike the radials which might so I can take the pink wheel and use this to bring back the highlights

there we have a nice contrast between the patina'd section and the little

buildings one little trick I like to do too is that you can actually buff up the patina by using a green radial they're

very fine so find that they don't really remove the patina very well though so to

open this up a little bit more

and we can add a little luster to the gunmetal patina in the back

it just seems to give it a nicer overall tone if you've overflowed solder on to

say copper and you want to get back to the copper a good tool is the black silicon wheel another good one is the

black pin polisher so let's try this with the black silicon wheel

back to copper well I hope you enjoyed

the video that's all for this time join us again a beach occation for another great class

 

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