What is Polishing Compound & Why do I Need it?
Polishing compound is essential to polishing with mops and felt. Depending on the specific compound brand it is essentially a grease base with different grades of grit in. Just like the stages of working through wet & dry paper the polishing compounds create finer and finer scratches until the metal is bright and shiny!
In Jewellery polishing there are normally 2 stages Cutting and Polishing (Colouring).
The initial step in polishing is removing the scratches put in with needle files and wet & dry paper. It’s best to prepare the metal and get the biggest scratches out to around an 800g finish.
Traditionally this is done with brown Tripoli which is most commonly used, but you can also get excellent results from Menzerna 456G.
The final stage is polishing with a high gloss compound. If there are any scratches visible at this stage you will need to go back to cutting.
Traditionally this was done with Rouge, it is still a popular option but is very messy. Increasingly there are cleaner compounds such as FF9 and menzerna which are coming to the fore.
Apollo Tripoli compound is our most popular cutting compound. This brown compound works brilliantly on all non ferrous metals and will leave a bright finish whilst removing scratches and flattening the metal.
456G is a grey compound that is excellent on all jewellery metals as well as harder metals such as Titanium and even Steel.
FF9 is a very high gloss finishing compound which works brilliantly after Apollo. A much cleaner option than traditional jewellers rouge.
Either Menzerna M5 or P175 are good for final finishing precious metal. They work extremely well with the 456G cutting compound used first.
How do I Match Compound to the Right Mop?
It is important to match your compound to the right mop to get the best results. For example a harder mop will maximize the cutting action of a coarse compound.
A loosefold G mop is a popular option offering good cut but more suitable for Gold and Silver.
Mini Stitched mops are excellent for jewellery polishing and work well for both cutting and polishing. G is slightly harder than WDR.
Felt wheels come in various hardnesses, for more cut choose hard or hardened.
The softer the mop the higher the finish.
Chamois is very traditional and often gets used with rouge for gold.
How do I load Compound onto my Mop?
A very frequent question we get asked is how do I get the compound onto my mop? The compound is hard!
It’s very simple, because it is made of way it will be pretty solid but as soon as you spin a mop it creates heat which melts a little of the compound onto the surface of the mop.
It is the same principle for all mops, both used with a pendant motor (micromotor) or bench polisher with large mops. In that case the compound is brought to the mop, aiming at the lower half of the mop holding firmly. The video below demonstates adding compound to a cotton yarn mop.
Just a little is necessary, you should only see a thin layer on the mop. If you add too much you will soon notice as there will be thick black residue coating your work. A clean mop can be used to remove the residue from the piece (or small amounts with your finger) and a mop rake (mop dresser) can help to remove the excess from the mop. It is normal to have black residue, it in fact shows that the compound is working and removing metal.
This high quality compound made in Europe is extremely popular. The finish they produce is excellent, whilst being easier to clean up than traditional compounds.
This would be our recommendation for the best compound for jewellery whether you are a hobbyist or a well versed professional jeweller. Well worth the investment for the finish they give.
We do both large and small bars to suit everybodies usage.
Dialux is a well known brand of compound and is often used in jewellery teaching.
The colour of rouge dictates what it is good for. The white dialux is particularly popular with very soft hair wheels, it is cleaner to use than the red dialux which is still a popular finishing bar for gold. Blue Dialux is meant to be particularly good for silver.
Green Dialux is notoriously used for stopping knife blades on leather. You could also polish jewellery tools in this manor to produce a sharp edge.
Very traditional, there is nothing wrong with this time tested polishing compound. The difference between the types is the firmness or oiliness of the bar. All jewellers have a preference for the consistency of the rouge.
It is particularly good for ‘colouring’ gold. it is believed to help create the beautiful lustrous golden glow on gold. Use with Chamois mops or very fine Reflex Mops.
How do I Clean Up After Using Compound?
There is black residue on my jewellery, how do I get it off?
This is totally normal for polishing. The compound is waxy so will need to be cleaned off your work. Most simply you can clean your piece with warm soapy water (be careful around pearls and opals etc). A very soft toothbrush can be used to clean detailed areas.
Alternatively when there are no sensitive stones you can pop the piece in an ultrasonic tank. This will shake the residues from holes and detailed areas.
It is good practise to clean between polishing stages too, this prevents cutting compound from contaminating the finer compounds preventing a good shine.
An ultrasonic is brilliant for shaking compound from holes and detail creating the best, cleanest finish.
What Compounds do you use for Polishing Glass & Plastics?
This includes resin and acrylic. Firstly the surface needs to be sanded with wet, wet & dry paper to around an 800 – 1200g finish. Then the best compound to use is Menzerna Wax 16. Its essentially the same as Vonax, but the finish is much clearer and only one grade is necessary.
Glass can be tricky to polish. If you have fine scratches a combination of pumice them cerium oxide can be used to polish them out.
Stones are often lapped with felt wheels and Cerium Oxide too.
Wax 16 is excellent for all plastics, resin and other mixed media materials.
Very useful for polishing acrylic display furniture and safety glasses!
Glass is generally polished using cerium oxide powder mixed to a paste with water. We sell a kit which comes with pumice too for the 1st stage. Used with felt bobs.