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Thread: Buffing

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada


    Any tips or pointers you guys can share on buffing? Would you buff a small item that has been coated in wipe on poly and is now dry? What benefit would one get? How dry would it need to be to buff it?

    Or is buffing only for the paste or oil finishes?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Oceanside, So. Calif. 5 mi. to the ocean
    You sure can ask a lot of questions that I can't help you a bit with. Yeah, I know that is lousy teachers are rolling over in their graves.


    First of all you have to be smarter than the machine.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    In my opinion, buffing is what makes the difference between a good finish and a great one. I buff nearly everything I make, both lathe stuff and flatwork. While it's especially important on glossy finishes, it also improves a satin or semi-gloss as well. Rub a finger lightly over something you've finished. Do you feel any little bumps or irregularities? I'm not talking about in the wood, but in the finish itself. Buffing can get rid of those.

    For small things (like turned items or small flatwork projects), I prefer to use buffing wheels. I have adaptors for both of my lathes and separate wheels for each buffing compound I use. In some cases, I use the common "tripoli/white diamond/wax" trio. The tripoli and white diamond compounds are fine abrasives (tripoli is coarser than white diamond), and the wax is a finishing touch that adds slightly to the protection of the piece. Most folks use carnauba wax, but I'm not fond of the results I get with it, so I apply Renaissance micro-crystalline wax by hand, and buff it out with a dry buffing wheel (or a microfiber towel, in some cases.) Other times, I only use a single buffing compound, called PL compound and sold by Don Pencil. Best I can tell, it's somewhere between tripoli and white diamond on the abrasive scale, but it's also in a bit stickier carrier and behaves a bit differently than the other two. I can get good results just using the PL compound followed by wax.

    For larger pieces (like my pool cue case), I've used automotive rubbing compound, followed by automotive polishing compound, then wax. I applied each by hand and rubbed out the irregularities as I went. You can also use pumice and rottenstone, with either a light oil (like mineral oil) or water as a carrier. Much like rubbing, polishing, or buffing compounds, they are just a very fine abrasive, with one (pumice) being a bit coarser than the other.

    Regardless of the method you use, you do need to be careful to not buff too hard, or you risk going through the finish. This causes bad words to be said. Don't ask me how I know this. I think pretty much any finish can be buffed, including polyurethane, lacquer, shellac, and even bare wood. If you're buffing a finish, it's important for it to be cured, but I suspect your poly is ready to be buffed after a couple days of waiting.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Thanks again Vaughn.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Tellico Plains, Tennessee
    Rob, Vaughn touched on what I was about to say... on a wipe on poly, it needs to have cured it's full week or so before you buff or you risk knocking the finish off...DAMHIKT..
    Tellico Plains, TN
    My parents taught me to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder to find any.
    If you go looking for trouble, it will usually find you.

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