Buffing (gen. info)
...some variables
Hand buffing --for sheen
...examples of materials to use
...other ways to get sheen
Electrics --for sheen or high gloss shine (gen. use info)
...Foredom (jeweler's buffer)
...Other small buffers (mini bench grinder, etc.)
...Regular bench grinders
...Other (mostly electric) "buffiers"
...Tumble buffing
...Other ways to get high-gloss shine
...Buffing safety (more on)
...No Buffing
...Buffing plus liquid finishes (elegant)
(for buffing with a Dremel, see Tools > Dremels )


Buffing can be done by hand (for a sheen), or be done with a power tool of some kind (for a sheen to high gloss shine) on smooth clay (generally sanded first).

Since sanding alone also leaves a lightened, cloudy surface on the baked clay, some kind of buffing is needed to remove it.
(.....or other things can be done instead... see Other Ways to Get Sheen and Other Ways to Get Shine below)

If objects which have been previously buffed or sealed become dull looking, hand or machine buffing will bring back the shine.

some variables

You can get any finish from a nice silky sheen all the way up to a really-glossy shine on baked clay by sanding and buffing (how it ends up depends on how you do it, and which materials you've used, etc.)
(... you could always buff the clay without sanding it first, but the sheen-shine won't be nearly as great)

enerally, the longer you buff, the glossier the finish will be.

The smoother the clay before buffing, the higher the shine will be (see Sanding > Smoothing Before Sanding)

Donna Kato pointed out that if you add moisture somehow before buffing (esp with translucent clays), the buffed oject actually glows
....she wet her piece
.......I have noticed that wetting the piece also keeps the muslin pads on an electric buffer from getting hot so the piece buffs up very quickly... it also tightens the pad just a bit. Jeannette
.... I live at the beach with very high humidity, so I've noticed
I have a different finished product when I polish here at home. syndee

The amount of translucent in (a brand's) clay base has a LOT to do with whether it'll shine up really glossy or not.... the more translucent, the shinier. (Sculpey brand clay is more opaque; the other brands less so.)
. . also, regular colors may have various amounts of translucent in them (even if they don't "look" translucent) --some colors have a lot (they also darken more when baking
....some colors though have white in the base and it opaques the color more. You can tell pretty easily, once you know what you are looking for... . for example, Flesh has a mostly translucent base....so do some of the colors like purple and magenta. Sarajane H.

brands ...I have noticed that there's a difference in the "shinability" between different brands when buffing
... Fimo appears to give the smoothest and also most durable shine of the ones I've tried...in fact, I have gotten away with not Varathaning pieces which have only been covered with a veneer of Fimo
........also, so far the Fimo ones have not lost their buffed shine after many wearings.
....Kato clay has a natural sheen finish even without buffing, so it gets a glass-hard smooth shine when buffed
....Sculpey and Sculpey III may buff up the least glossy since they have the most matte textures after baking (?) (SuperSculpey is mostly translucent)
....Sculpey...I have noticed that all the sanding (and buffing?) in the world won't make Sculpey really shiney . . . Diana
.......right, Sculpey is the most opaque of the clay brands, and the amount of translucent in (a brand's) clay base has a LOT to do with whether it'll shine up....so try Premo, or Fimo, or Cernit. Sarajane
...also, certain colors (even dark ones) within most brands (except Kato?) have more translucent than other colors in that brand, so that can affect it too. Sarajane H.

liquid clays... regular clay which has been mixed (softened) with liquid clay seems to buff up easier, and looks nicer ...(but) I'm a very thorough mixer.

(see also using other materials on the suface then buffing, below in Other Ways to Get Shine and Other Ways to Get Sheen)

You can get an even better shine by re-baking the piece after you've buffed it ... then buff again. Thalassa
......baking after buffing does tone down the shine some, but all it takes then is a quick rebuff and there you are, as shiny or shinier than before. DottyinCA
(....see also using brief high heat (350 just until bit of smoke) to create a shiny finish, below in Misc > No Buffing)

Some clayers even like to use a liquid finish after sanding and buffing, for even more beautiful gloss
......or they may do several rounds of liquid finish-buffing... or liquid finish-brief baking-buffing... after sanding
(see more on those below in Misc. > Buffing plus liquid finishes).


buffing "compounds" can mean different things for different media (....stuff that's meant for use on metal can be different than stuff meant for wood or stone, and also different than stuff meant for plastic. I would highly recommend doing careful research on what's in the buffing compounds and blocks before acquiring them for polymer clay.)
....Many compounds are far too rough for baked polymer clay (which is relatively soft), so generally none are used.
....I do know of one product specifically designed for working on plastics though - Novus. They make a cleaner and light scratch remover and a heavy scratch remover. But I've never tried it on polymer clay. http://www.tapplastics.com/shop/product.php?pid=113 Desiree
.......I tried the (white) buffing compound intended for plastic but didn't see any difference on that piece than I did on pieces where I didn't use it. So, I don't use it. DottyinCA

HAND buffing

(can achieve a nice sheen, but not a high gloss without electric buffing)

Remember that buffing by hand only (after sanding) can bring up a nice sheen, but won't result in the really glossy shine that an electric buffing can... a silky sheen can look more elegant than a high gloss shine though
......(a higher shine may be desired sometimes to give the added depth that a high gloss creates, esp. for pieces which have used translucent clay or mica clay in them )

Many materials can act as buffers for clay btw.
(technical info:) ...... when we use very-very-fine textures, we call it "buffing" but the basic principle is the same as sanding --we continue to smooth out ever finer and finer scratches which were created by the previous rubbing with a slightly-coarser surface
....various buffing materials are actually very-very fine "sandpapers" since no surface is truly without texture or uneveness... during "buffing" though, the heat created by the friction of rubbing even a lightly textured or soft material very quickly over the (relatively) soft polymer clay is more important than any "cutting" that's still occuring. The heat causes the clay to soften slightly (like what happens in the oven), so the clay surface is then more amenable to pressure and the slight abrasion of buffing still occuring to smooth it.

examples of materials

FABRIC based (with more or less texture):
...you can buff by hand with a clean soft cloth by vigorously rubbing the piece for several minutes to bring out the sheen using fabrics like terrycloth, or a t-shirt, or the pique knit used for polo shirts
...your own jeans, etc.
...my comforter cover ... I think it's all cotton, a little bit courser than a sheet but not much....also, all that cushioning under it kinda wraps up around the egg, so I think there is more surface contact that way and I can really shine it up in huge rubs.
...lately I have been doing all the regular sanding first, but instead of buffing it up to a high glossy shine, I just hand-polish it with a piece of cotton after the last grit. ... I love the sheen and the silky satiny feel this gives.
.......and, when I put two pieces side by side in my display, it's most often the one that is NOT buffed to a high gloss shine that sells first! (...of course it depends on the item, but it is an interesting observation). Jenny Pat
...you may have read where the fleece side of an old sweatshirt makes a wonderful polishing cloth for baked polymer pieces. Well, it does.
........(but also....if you cut 3-4 circles of sweatshirt material about 1" in diameter or so, and attach it to your mandrel of a Dremel, you should see the sheen it brings up! I love watching it!!! It beats out my muslin wheel, I know that.)

... piece of an old brown grocery bag . . . this was a tip posted by someone last summer, and it is also a lifesaver
..........(can wad up then flatten the bags first for an even more fabric-y feel to the bag)

...paper towels (Lylyfai says cheap ones are best and regular-buffs afterward... LuxieLou says they worked well without even truly buffing afterward)

OTHER materials:
...quilt batting polishes sanded polyclay by hand extremely well, too. Sue
.......(or cotton batting should work too)
I was amazed at how well the mouse pad buffed the bead with just a few 'swipes'. Now I have something else I have to NOT throw away! Michelle
Before a brief hand-buffing, you can lightly rub the sanded clay with fine steel wool made for wood finishing (# 0000) to bring out a bit of subtle shine.

other ways to get sheen

Re-heating the baked clay after sanding (sometimes along with adding Softener-Diluent first, and/or re-buffing) can remove the dusty look created by sanding... but also can bring the clay up to a nice sheen or a shiny finish, depending on how it's done.
.....(for the list of techniques used to re-bake, get rid of the dusty look from sanding, and/or achieving a sheen or shine finish, look in Sanding > OTHER WAYS to smooth or finish after sanding > Re-Baking)

Boiling --or baking, then brief boiling-- + buffing
...For some reason, boiling does something to the outside of the clay item
...........if I bake as usual first, (then) I boil rapidly for 5 min... let "drip dry" (the same thing happens as just below?)

..During boiling, the clay will have acquired a coating of whitish substance, so I simply buff it off with a chamois-like cloth
....... you end up a bead with a luster that is usually achieved with sanding and buffing or with Future
........... I noticed little if any coating or film on my pieces though, so could the whitish film possibly be related to your water source? (or type of material pan was made from, etc.?)
.... if what you're making has a lot of nooks and crannies , it might not be worth the time it takes to get the desired result. Kelly
...Beads that I'd boiled had a kind of matte finish (no buffing? or different water?)
....... the two different finishes I got from the two curing methods (boiling and baking) actually looked good together--like getting two coordinating beads from the same batch.
(see more on boiling clay, etc., in Baking > Boiling )

Rubbing various materials into the clay, then buffing, can give a nice sheen too:
... things like clear (Natural) shoe polish wax, carnauba waxes (Treewax, Mother's Car Wax, etc), saddle soap
....I've also had a lot better results when I rub the items I'm polishing with my hands to add my body oils to the surface. It's an old technique we used in photography to retouch scratches on negatives...you touched the side of your nose (talk about body oil) and then rubbed your finger across the scratch on the negative. Your body oil would fill in the scratch and you could print the negative again. Syndee
........I've rubbed pieces through my hair to give them a bit of extra shine... it does work a treat. Sera
paraffin wax on heated clay can work too
...more info about these in Finishes > Other Ways to Get Sheen

ELECTRIC buffers

(to get a nice sheen, or all the way up to a high-gloss shine)

general Use Info

Various electrical units can be used (or modified to use) for buffing polymer clay:
...bench grinder (later fitted with one or more muslin or flannel wheels)
...tabletop-size mini-bench grinder/polisher
. two-sided tabletop buffer...or a buffer sold esp. for buffing jewelry like a Foredom
...something you rig up yourself such as a muslin wheel on an electric drill, etc.
...(you can also buff by hand)

Be sure to keep the clay moving around while you buff, and don't press too hard into the wheel!
(...if you your item is pressed too hard against the wheel, the heat created by the friction will cause the clay to soften a bit, which in turn will allow the fibers of the wheel to dig into the clay leaving visible grooves and gouges... the same kind of heat buildup will occur if they clay is not moved around).
...also, try not to touch (or hold) any freshly buffed areas...those areas will be warm and soft and will easily take fingerprints. Desiree
Desiree's lesson on buffing (with a bench grinder or Dremel)
http://desiredcreations.com/howTo_CAivoryHorn.htm (near bottom of page)

When using any of the power buffers... always hold your clay item lightly (but securely) against the bottom third (of the visible part) of the turning wheel).
.....if your clay piece is held high on the wheel, rather than somewhere in the bottom third, and it is jerked out of your hand, it will be flung right at you ...that won't ever happen if you buff on the bottom third of the wheel though because the item will be carried down and behind the buffer, rather than up and toward you)

The buffing wheel will tend to grab onto items being buffed, and fling them (under the wheel and) away from you, if you buff incorrectly:
(this will probably happen at least once to everyone!!)
...make sure there aren't any children, or pets or breakable items in that trajectory

it's also a good idea to put a box, a towel or a blanket behind the wheel area both to protect the item and to make it easier to locate afterwards <g>... strangely enough, most clay items don't seem to be damaged by this... if so, re-sand and polish that area
.... I'm going to haul out some quilt batting and tack it up behind the grinder so the beads will hit that when they torque (fly, shoot...) out of my hand. Hopefully this will keep dented wall to a minimum and encourage the bead to stop, drop and roll to an area somewhere near my feet. Kim K
...we put the buffer itself into a big open-faced box...you could line the back of the box with batting as well.. that way you could simply turn the buffer off & easily retrieve anything that got away from you. Joanie
...my DH made a buffing booth for me which has doubled as his painting booth
.......it also has a light in it (and a bathroom exhaust fan with an extra filter which can be changed and cleaned after buffing, and esp. sanding). Phyllis

some things that may make this grabbing and flinging happen more easily:
......not holding the item securely
......catching an edge or a projection on the piece
..... moving the piece in and out of the wheel too often, etc.
......buffing small items
......using a faster speed or wheel, or a larger wheel

I wear a latex glove on one hand.... really helps to keep a grip on those slippery sanded up items. Geo
.....or just use finger cots . . . Kat

beads with holes can be held more securely for buffing in several ways:
...stiff wire:
......thread several beads on the wire, leaving several inches on each end to get a good grip ....hold the beads tightly on both ends so they don't spin.
......I string a dozen or so on a long piece of beading wire... then wrap both ends around my hands to secure them ..... then LIGHTLY move the strand against the buffing wheel
.... I do the strand from several different angles to help get all around the beads, and also hold them horizontally which will make the beads spin. dixie.
...stiff rods:
.......I put each bead
on a wood skewer which is thinner than the hole in the bead... that way, when I hold the bead(s) to the wheel, the bead actually spins on the skewer. ....I do keep the piece moving at all times!... and I do the vertical thing when I buff, too (side to side, then up and down). Irene
.......or use a slender metal knitting needle, or brass rod or tube, etc.
......replacement metal bike spokes from bike shops cost less than a dollar and are great for this (they won't bend or crack like wooden skewers). Sarajane

a different way (to polish round beads on a buffing wheel)
...into the bottom end of a short length of pipe, insert a dowel (which is narrower).... then drop a bead into the top of the pipe (which will rest on the end of the dowel inside the pipe)
..... now push the dowel and bead up past the open end of the pipe maybe a third of the way, and let the bead spin freely against a buffing wheel
….. takes very little time that is how they make spheres out of rock cubes… Faun
...How easy that would be in practise I don't know. I imagine difficulties with the bead flicking out of the end of a pipe especially if it was pushed up a little too high. (stones would prob. sit more firmly because they are heavier, but polyclay might be too lightweight). ...But we won't know til someone tries it!!!! Shelley

I even let my fingers rest lightly against the moving buffing wheel as I'm moving the item around against it ... it doesn't hurt my fingers, though it can get warm if you do it too long
....but I think it keeps the item steadier, and gives more automatic control because every time you pull the item away from the wheel and put it back, your fingers sort of forget where the sweet spot was.

rings or bands or cylinders (of baked clay) can be held securely while buffing if you put one fingeror more inside as well.
....vessels usually give your hands 2 orientations to hold on with, which helps...

buffing dust and safety . . . if you buff a lot, you may want to be aware of a few things:
...the side of the bench next to my bench grinder is heavily coated with polymer clay powder, and the cement floor has a lighter dusting but gets swept up now and then. After looking at the heavy coating, I'm glad I chose not to buff in the house. DottyinCA
...Safety dictates you should wear a light mask when buffing to help reduce the amount you'll breathe into your lungs. (don't ask me if I do that!) Since what I make to buff is usually small, I use my buffers right at my project table. What I have learned to do is drape my project table with a big towel or something to make sure any raw clay that's sitting there won't get dusty. Desiree

bench grinders usually take a 6-inch diameter wheel
jewelry buffers and mini-bench grinders, etc., generally take a 3-inch diameter wheel (or 4?)

Most bench grinders run at 3450 RPM. I believe that jewelry buffers run at 1725 RPM (though most of those are variable speed; 1725 RPM is one of the speeds.)
....Now imagine a spot on the outer edge of a 6-inch wheel.... a 6-inch wheel on a bench grinder will be moving 4 times faster than a 3-inch wheel at the 1725 speed on a buffer. . (if you have a bench grinder and want to slow it down, get a smaller wheel). Irene WNC

In buffing, what counts is the surface speed of the wheel.. . . . a large wheel will have a faster surface speed than a small one (on a motor of the same RPM)
.....If your beads are getting too hot or you are gouging the surface, it may be that your wheel is too large (or move around more or don't press in too hard)
.....Conversly, if takes too long to buff a piece you may need a larger wheel. Irene WNC

buffing wheels

The "rouge" (powders/pastes) usually used for jewlery or rocks are too abrasive to use with polymer clay.

Get the unstitched muslin or cotton or flannel buffing wheels, in either the 2 1/2-3" or 4" or 6" diameter (depending on the type and size of your buffer).. less than $5 each.
....hard "fiber" buffing wheels can easily burn/gouge the clay, as do the stitched ones or the solid hard felt wheels. Patty B.
...when I purchased mine many years ago, they were called star buffs. I had to enlarge the center leather hole so it would fit on my bench grinder, but well worth the extra effort. If you call Rio, tell them you need a buffing wheel for cold buffing. Geo

There are several types of polishing discs that work best on the soft plastic, polymer clay:
cloth (i.e., muslin, or "cotton" or flannel?) and polyester felt.

lesson on making your own buffing wheel with stacks of polyester felt disks (to use with a Dremel or other rotary tool)
--make sure you use polyester felt , NOT wool. felt....Desiree says the wool is too coarse
(though there are a few wool felt disk wheels sold for the Dremel which look a little bit soft --though their surfaces are still coarse... don't know if those would work, even with a light touch)

I found some of that faux chamois stuff at Dollar Tree that people use to dry their cars ($1 per package) ... it looks like an orangey felt ....it gave a much better shine than the regular felt or a muslin buffing wheel
...I'm going to cut and cram as many small disks of this
stuff on the flex shaft of the mini-bench grinder (on a Dremel mandrel --the one that has the little screw on the top to hold the wheel on)
...I'll also make larger disks for the mini-bench grinder itself, then I'll put those big washers back on either side of it (they came on the grinder to hold the fiber wheel on).... I will have to use something to cut a hole in the middle of each circle ... I'm hoping that I will get an even better shine. Chaun

"cloth" wheels:

I thought muslin was cotton."
....Well, it is... but if you visit a lapidary shop or online supplier, they may have at least two different types of cotton or "cloth"buffing wheels
....one is stitched and made from muslin (a slightly coarser cotton), and another which is unstitched and is a somewhat softer cotton
....the softer cotton material reduces the scratching on polymer clay a bit more (however, as Irene said, you don't have to get the softer version. Besides, I don't know if one's made for a standard woodshop bench grinder.)

With any cloth wheel, be sure you use only a one-row stitched cloth wheel with clay
...two stitches aren't too bad though if they're not too close to the outer edge ...more than one row of stitching around makes a the cloth a bit too stiff and unyielding for polymer clay (....you can see the stitching when you look on the flat side of the buffing disk, not on the edge of the disk)
.. however, If you can't find one with just one stitch, you can always take out all but one row of the stitching ...leaving the row that is closest to the center of the wheel. Dotty in CA

my cloth wheel actually has a leather center with no stitching... I bought itl from a jewelry supply store for $2.65 (..I bought extras at the time thinking I would need to change them out often...no need though, still using the same one over 4 years later). Patty B

I recently doubled the muslin wheels on my Foredom buffer(two wheels, side-by-side) at the suggestion of several people, including Celie Fago and Kathleen Dustin, and I am surprised at how much improvement that simple detail (making the buffing surface wider) makes!
...it's kind of hard fitting two on the spindle though --I tried to enlarge the hole on the inner one with a blade, but it only helped a littel bit.

Desiree's lesson on putting more than one cloth wheel on a small rotary tool
(for more, see Tools > Dremels )

Several people suggest using a firmer wheel and a softer wheel for each clay piece (one at a time)
...Gwen Gibson suggests using a stitched and an unstitched wheel for clay, if possible
.......the stitched one is firmer and will actually remove a bit of clay, and can round off squared edges or corners, etc
.......the unstitched one is softer and can be used afterwards to really polish and bring up the shine
...I have mounted a different type of wheel on each side of my Foredom buffer
.....on the left spindle, I have 2 muslin wheels together (each with 3 rows of stitching) ...on the right side, I have 1 unstitched muslin wheel (with a small leather disk in its center)
......to bring up a good shine, I do what Nan Roche suggested....first I do most of the buffing on the tighter wheels of the left side, and then I do just a light buffing on the looser wheels of the right side. Karen in MI

sources for buffing wheels :
...one source for polishing wheels, if you have one in your area, is a lapidary store (for rocks, etc..... look in the yellow pages)....they tend to sell polishing lathes and wheels... Desiree
...Rio Grande http://www.riogrande.com has an amazing selection of polishing/buffing wheels made from various materials....
......the unstitched star muslin has been highly recommended.
.....however, being an experimenter, I'm tempted to order their "balloon cloth" wheel. Rio claims it's ultra smooth and silky.
......also, I may order their flannel buffs. Since flannel is softer than muslin, it should create a better shine.
.....I love Rio Grande's Star buffing wheel...I use one of those on one end of my Foredom and a (regular?) muslin one on the other...the best of both worlds, IMHO. Dianne C.

When the cloth wheels are new, they will throw threads quite a bit.... this will improve with time
....OR you can get rid of many of those loose threads and also soften up the wheel at the same time in a number of ways:
......after I attached the (muslin) disk, I took a board and ran the wheel against the edge of it (for a few minutes) it to soften and fray the muslin. Sally
.......take the buffer outside to plug it in, then turn it on and run the tip of a screwdriver through the outer surface of the wheel to shred off the loose fibers. (Another tip from Irene)
......I take the buffer outside.... then I turn it on and hold the tines of a large metal dog comb into it for a little while (NOT one those flea brushes where the tines are real close together) ... I hold it firmly but I don't JAM it in there, just so it has a steady enough contact to knock the loose threads out.//// I do it on and off for about 10 min's, picking off the long sticky-out threads in between till I have a nice smooth surface on my wheel again. Joanie

Also, a new muslin buffing wheel can easily overheat the surface of the clay.... using a light touch is necessary until the muslin softens up. Dotty

As I recall, Barbara McGuire uses a sheepskin pad on a drill or on a rotary sander, and the difference in the before and after of the piece is incredibly dramatic. Sara Jane NC
(this is probably "wool," but is it soft and loose wool so won't scratch??)

the Foredom ....a "jeweler’s buffer"

(see also Buffing Wheels just above)

Just for the record, I bought mine from Metalliferous, Inc (34 West 46 St. New York, NY 10036 )... I don't have their phone # but I believe they advertise in Lapidary Journal.
Their price was lower than that quoted by any other supplier, including TSI. (I paid $128.00 (all "parts" included) at the time. They are an established jewelry/metal supply house and delightful to deal with.
...By the way, while you're spending, get an extra buffing wheel and put 2 on at the same time. It give you a wider buffing area and thus you can cover a wider area at one time.
.....I recently doubled the muslin wheels on my Foredom (two side-by-side) at the suggestion of several people including Celie Fago and Kathleen Dustin. I am surprised at how much improvement that simple detail, making the buffing surface wider, makes! (Kind of hard fitting two on the spoke, though -- I tried to enlarge the hole on the inner one with a blade, but it only helped a littel bit.)

As a dealer of Foredom products, I can say that all of their products are of good quality. For polymer clay, you probably can't find a major difference, except that the BL1 is a decidedly better made machine. If you are a hard-core user, the BL1 is a better choice. If you only have need for the machine on a irregular basis, the B&G is absolutely fine. You really can't go wrong with either machine. For the record, there is another product similar to the B&G made by Grobet USA that comes with a backsplash for about the same money. Both the B&G and the Grobet products are essentially flexshaft motors mounted horizontially with dual shafts that accomodate tapered spindles or arbor adapters. David Feldman, Metalliferous, Inc.212-944-0909
The Bl-1 is more heavy duty, for sure. The B&G needs to be secured to the surface you're using or it'll walk. Other than that, for polymer, it's fine. Meredith
...Foredom variable speed ...Part of the reason for spending that mucy money is that eventually I want to work in mixed media with metals, and the Foredom is much better for that than a bench grinder. Plus you can have two different buffing wheels on at the same time. With metals you use polish with various grits -- you don't want to use a fine grit buffer with a coarse grit polish or you can't go back to the fine grit polish, it's contaminated. (Like sandpaper grades.) So having two on one buffer when polishing silver, say, means you don't have to dismantle thigns to go to the next step. If you never want to polish anything but polymer, it might be overkill. . . Sherry B.

The unstitched cotton wheel I have is only 3" in diameter and made for the smaller jewelry sized buffing wheel. Desiree

I would suggest getting the star muslin buff from Rio Grande for your Foredom...I have the variable speed Foredom & use the star muslin buff. It's superior to any buffs I have used. Dianne

I use my Foredom between low and medium at the beginning of the buffing... then I move it up to middle speed at the very end. mamadude

The "glassiness" of a finish has a lot to do with how well you've previously smoothed the surface by sanding, etc., and a lot to do with your technique:
--I usually set my Foredom buffer on a rather slow speed and use more pressure into the wheel to sort of pre-buff the item all over,
--then switch to a higher rpm and back off to using very little pressure.
--I finish up with a flannel wheel barely touching the surface.
.....the flannel wheel is made to shed fibers constantly, thereby providing a clean surface... seemed like a handy thing to buy at the time, because I was buffing mostly pearl stuff.
...mica particles
do seem to get embedded in the buffer wheel, and can then seem to scratch up your surface. The flannel wheel removes buffer wheel lines, too. You can order unstitched or single-stitched muslin wheels and flannel wheels from Rio Grande - they're cheap and they last a long time. Elizabeth

buffing on a Foredom:(website gone)

other small buffers

mini bench grinder:
...I have used it for a month now and swear by it.. . . its quiet, and the variable speed is great....it's the 3", table top grinder/buffer from Harbor Freight for $39.99 .http://www.harborfreight.com (search for item number 43533) ...vivian
...there's a sale on these until 1/1/2004... I got it by phone (800-423-2567), for $29.99. I was told to tell the customer service dept that I wanted item number # 43533-1. I was also told it would be on sale through the end of the year (until 1/1/2004). SO, there is no need to be near a store to get it at the sale price! Patti in MD (at retail, the store personnel may not even know about the sale until it's rung up!)
....Its a Chicago brand, Item number 43533. the overall dimensions are 8 3/4 x 4 3/4 x 6 1/4. It also comes with a 31" flex shaft as well, the collet wrench set, grinder stone (which I took off, doesn't work with polymer), 3" "fiber" wheel (don't use with clay), and the mounting stone bit. I highly recommend this one if you can't afford the higher costs foredom variable speed or don't want to use the loud larger bench grinders/buffers.
...Home Depot, Loews, Ace (and Harbor Freight don't carry these smaller muslin flannel wheels)....classified as a specialty item for jewelry.
...... it's variable speed. The manual says that it has a "no load RMP" of 0 to 10,000. Which I'm assuming would be top speed without anything against it. Oh, and in case anyone wonders, the color isn't green like on the web site. Mine's a sporty yellow. Ginger
....I bought the (2 1/2) 3" flannel polishing wheel separately from my local rock shop (its off white, I think they called it a polishing wheel) and I just drilled the hole larger so that the wheel will fit but that was pretty easy. vivian
....I found some of that faux chamois stuff that people use to dry their cars. It looks like an orangey felt. The stuff I found was from the Dollar Tree and was a buck a package. It gave a much better shine than the regular felt or a muslin buffing wheel.
... Since taking off the guard, a 4-inch wheel fits on there, instead of a 3 inch, which is good... the bigger the wheel, the bigger the buffing area.
...... I will cut 4-inch circles of the faux chamois, then cram as many as I can on that shaft... put those big washers back on either side of it (they came on the grinder to hold the fiber wheel on).... I will have to use something to cut a hole in the middle of each circle.... I am hoping that I will get an even better shine. Chaun
....I haven't used the flex tube part of the machine yet, but I plan to make a smaller buffing wheel out of the faux chamois as well (several circles) crammed onto a Dremel mandrel (the one that has the little screw on the top to hold the wheel on). Chaun
........the 4" wheel will not fit under the guard (but if remove guard?). Ginger
.....my dad cut the cowl off and ground the edges smooth so she could fit a muslin wheel on it safely. Kathy W.
... can't see how to get the guards off of it. The wheel on the left is mostly exposed in front, but the one on the right is only exposed above midpoint. Ginger
....I asked about removal of the wheel cover guards, and I was told that that the bolt holding it on had to be cut off, but it could be done..Patti in MD

... My husband bought a 4 1/2" steel tapered spindle and put it on shaft where the grinding wheel was. He had to file down the shaft a little bit, but that was no problem and was easy to do with a file (he turned the grinder on and held the file on the shaft and just removed a little bit of the shaft). He did not remove any thing else from the grinder, did not cut the guard off, because the shaft is long enough you don't need to remove the guard. . . . He bought the steel tapered spindle from Hut Products in Fulton Mo for $9.99. They also had 3"..... 35 ply muslin buffing pads to fit it for $1.80 each. You can get them for the right or left side (because of the direction of the screw threads?).... He put mine on the left side because of the flexible shaft being on the right. BTW their website is http://www.hutproducts.com . . . now my Harbor Freight polisher looks just like the expensive one and cost much less.Flo
........When I use it, it sets on my dining room table, I put a damp wash cloth on the table tucked under the wheel cover and the dust falls to this quite well.. . .its my favorite new toy!!! . . . and the motor is so quiet that even if I lived with anyone they couldn't complain about how loud it was. enjoy your new toy, I know I love mine. vivian
...MODIFYING: I have just removed the housing from my mini bench grinder and hadn't yet posted my final opinions because of time constraints but also because I wanted to work with it a while (and probably order another part). I'll post my results here temporarily (which I sent privately to someone) for anyone who needs them until I get around the discovering the final, best way <g>.
....I'm thinking that it might be best, certainly for larger items, to buy a "spindle" (see ordering above) for holding the buffing wheel rather than cutting off the cowl and using the shorter shaft (of course, doing both would be even better maybe but cutting is a bit of a pain...can be done though, see below). The spindle would attach to the shaft and cause the buffing wheel to project out past the housing. This would do two good things: create lots of room on the interior (right) side for objects to be moved around, especially when buffing longer items or larger items like bowls; and it would allow lots of room to be created underneath the wheel if the machine itself were placed on top of a wood box, or turned sideways so that it projected past the work surface.
(Without a spindle, the buffing wheel is held only a bit more than a 1/2" away from the machine so there isn't a lot of room to maneuver on that interior side. . . if we don't get the spindle, however, we'll cut off just a bit more of the housing which is in that area, but only up to the place where there's an important screw/bolt.)
....Having said that, I have been using what I have to buff some beads and one longish clay drill bit handle. It does work and gives a nice shine, but I haven't finished figuring out which speeds are the best; it also feels like the items have to be held onto even harder than with a larger grinder (that could change a bit depending on how and where the machine is placed though, not sure). The buffing wheel seemed to be less soft than my grinder's buffing wheel (both unstitched), but that may be because it hasn't yet been broken in sufficiently and the threads are still kind of stiff (seems a little better already). But it's also true that the big grinder's wheel is 6" in diameter and that alone could make a difference.
...If you do decide to remove the housing, what I found worked easiest was a cut-off wheel made for air tools (works fine in a regular large drill)... we also had to buy a special "arbor" or whatever it's called to go in the drill to hold the wheel. The cut-off wheel is 3" in diameter, black, and 1/16" thick (there are several to a package); this one was made by Campbell Hausfeld (MP2879) and we got it at Home Depot (I think both together were less than $10). It does go through the metal housing almost like butter though! After working with the Dremel and it's "heavy duty" cut-off wheel for 10-15 minutes and not getting very far, it was wonderful to just zip right through with the other wheel! . . . (We had used the Dremel on the inside of the housing, but used the larger wheel with the regular drill on the outside, after clamping it down).
...We didn't remove the housing to cut ours down because we'd already started with the Dremel, but with the larger wheel that wouldn't be a bad idea (put in a vise). If we had removed it, we'd have needed to have also made a usable slot in the bolt holding it onto the machine (with a Dremel cut-off wheel) because the Phillips slot the bolt originally had has been intentionally blunted so it's impossible to use (by the company...they don't see any reason to remove the housing).
BTW, if you don't remove the housing from the machine when cutting, you'll need to put tape or something over the small openings in the metal around the spindle area where metal dust could get into the motor (a no no!).
...We did all our work on the left side of the grinder (facing it) because using the right side for buffing would prevent being able to use the flex shaft (which attaches only to the shaft on the right side). . . I plan on putting a stitched buffing wheel on that side (maybe a smaller one) to act as a softer "grinder" for removing hard edges etc., but it's certainly not necessary. Both spindles rotate anytime the motor is on though, so I'll have to have some kind of cradle to hold the flex shaft while using the regular buffing wheel.
BTW, something they don't tell you is that when the machine is turned on, sometimes nothing happens. The DH says that the motor works with brushes, so simply moving the buffing wheel a bit by hand will allow it to engage properly (turn off first though). That works. Diane B.

If I understand correctly, the reason you want to take the cowl off is because you hold the PC piece below the open part of the wheel. If so, what about not taking off the cowl, but rigging a "frame" that would allow you to work the machine turned up at a 90 degree angle. (The feet, which now face the floor or work surface, would then face the wall behind the operator. You would have to make some kind of support, but it seems to me that a "soft" cradle (to absorb vibration) inside a frame (wood?), perhaps with suction cup feet, would allow you to position the unit correctly for working with PC without removing the cowl. Karen NC

(I got my Foredom from Metaliferrous in NYC for $167) but to tell you the truth, I like my little bench grinder (from Craftsman) just as well. I wish now that I had resisted the urge to "upgrade". I really thought it would be a great improvement but it isn't.. It's just as portable as the Foredom ...LTSEWNEW

Lortone (and a lot of other folks) makes a smaller, variable speed, two sided polisher with hood. Paul ...price??

(some things under Foredoms above will also apply to these small buffers)

regular size bench grinders

Regular size bench grinders can be found at Sears or hardware stores, as well as online, for $39 (and up). They usually come equipped with two grinding stones (one on each side) (one of which we usually replace with a fluffy muslin wheel or two). . . . .Each side has a clear protective hood over it, which needs to be removed for muslin wheels and polishing.
...Sears has a Craftsman, 6 in. bench grinder, Bench Buffer (max 1 hp, 3450 rpm ...1/2 in. shaft) which comes with two cotton wheels. $99

I've worked on a Foredom as well as several other jewelry buffers and find that with my Black and Decker bench grinder I can bring a shine up much faster. Outside of this, there is nothing wrong with the other buffers, I just prefer the speed of my own buffer.
....The variable speed element is not one I have a need for with polymer. (With metal and stones, the variable speed is valuable, but for polymer I find that the higher the RPM the better and faster the shine.) Dotty

It's been a while since I did the necessary modification on my bench grinder, but from what I remember I just took off all the hood coverings, the grinding wheels and put on my own buffing wheel and that was it. (I got my buffing wheel from Rio Grande - it's called a star buff for cold buffing.) ...I also had to enlarge the hole in the center of the buffing wheel to make it fit on the bench grinder. Geo
...May also have to buy the right size arbor to make them fit????
...(my new wheel is wobbly. Any workaround?? Kelly) Do you only have one muslin wheel on it? The threads that the bolt goes on didn't reach all the way to the wheel, so I put 2 wheels on mine....it holds nice and snug now. **lori

Be sure and remove the guard from around the wheel (of the bench grinder), as it's dangerous for several reasons. . . . . Besides that, with the guard on, you can't position your piece against the wheel in the right place. Your piece should be against the wheel between the bottom and the lower front side. Support the piece with your left hand held underneath it, flat. Hold it with your right hand. Move it around using both hands. Dotty
...(if your guard is in two parts) . . . yes, do take off the second (lower) guard too. You need access to the bottom front of the wheel. . . . even part of the guard left on can catch a bead or other small object and it can be whirled around and shoot back at you. Without the guards, it will shoot away from you. Dotty

I buff them on my Black and Decker bench grinder that has been converted to a buffer by adding a soft muslin wheel. This gives me a glass-like shine. The grinder has a high RPM so it acts almost like another extremely fine sanding.
....(If I didn't buff, I would probably go to higher grits of sandpaper or the 0000 steel wool which gives a lovely satin finish.)

(When you figure the RPM plus the size of the wheel you're using) ....if you want to slow down a bench grinder, get a smaller cotton/muslin wheel. Irene WNC

The rotation and vibration of a (normal-size) bench grinder will make the machine either jump, or walk (sometimes run.) Grinders are powerful machines, which is one of the reasons that they bring up a shine on a sanded piece of polymer clay so fast and easily. You have to bolt or clamp it down to something. Mine is in the garage and is bolted to the workbench. . . . You could also attach it to a sturdy board and then use some of the "pump" type clamps to clamp it to some type of counter where you can get the clamp underneath. Once securely fastened, it will work great. Dotty
....I just drove a couple of nails into the holes and edge-indentions in the footplate of my bench grinder; the nails extend into the workbench and hold the grinder well. . . . it quiets the extra noise it was making too. Diane B.
...That rubbery waffle-weave shelf liner (by Rubbermaid) is precisely what I use under my Foredom buffer. Kat
... I put the buffer on top of a Rubbermaid plastic crate that holds my fabric (you know -- the big blue ones you buy at Target). Anyhow, that buffer didn't move a centimeter. It left black marks on the top of the crate but it didn't move at all! Deirdre

Delta grinder/buffer I found at Lowes that has a variable speed . . .sells for $69, rpm is from 2000 to 3450 Bev
...The Delta is designed for big wheels and runs fast and hot! Mine usually sets in the barn for use on garden tool sharpening.

I went to Big Lots and bought the $20 bench grinder. It was 3/4 HP and 3450 RPMs. I converted it to a buffer and started buffing ink pens. By the fifth pen the grinder was smoking....Smoke was pouring out of it!!! I was afraid to leave it in case it burst into flames and burned up the house. My DH went to Lowe's and bought a $30 grinder which was 1/2 HP and 3450 RPMs. It has a wonderful light attached. I can't see where it is really any better than the one from Big Lots except for the light .. .my Dad ...said that once he bought 10 grinders and 6 out of the ten did exactly as I described. He said that it probably wasn't anything that I did. He said his buffer is an inexpensive one and he has been using it for 25 years. He said to keep taking them back until I got one that worked. Lisa

Just one more thing about the buffers. Since I work with my kaleidoscope barrels which are quite large and awkward to buff, I could never manage them on the Foredom. It would take forever I think, and be a lot more work. The Foredom is fine for jewelry and small pieces, but for bowls, vessels, and shapes like my kaleidoscopes, the B & D bench grinder is a much better choice. I can also do small pieces, even very small beads on it also. Dotty in CA

other (mostly electric) "buffers"

My wonderful dh sort of made a buffer for me. Took an old Power Drill, :fitted two muslin wheels onto it, and turned it upside and stuck it in :a heavy duty vise. Bunny
You can clamp a regular drill to a table & use it like a table buffer, if you want more power or to work with a larger wheel. It's easier and safer to have both hands free. . . . (just make sure it's stable. You can still hurt yourself... always be VERY aware of your movements when working with power tools...and put them away if you find yourself having a "clumsy day"or feeling very tired). Joanie
... I clamp it into a vise and move the clay onto it unstead of it onto the clay. Marty
...I have a small vise that I lay my dremel in (putting the on/off switch on top where I can get to it easily). This holds the dremel in place and steady and I can use it like a foredom buffer or bench grinder depending on what wheel I have on it. Elise

You can buy a separate drill stand for the Dremel....set up the Dremel w/ buffing wheel in the stand & treat like a table buffer.Judi
...most info on using a Dremel is on the Tools page > Dremels)

As I recall, Barbara McGuire uses a sheepskin pad on a drill or rotary sander, and the difference in the before and after of the piece is incredibly dramatic. Sara Jane NC

Contour Sander, Dremel http://www.dremel.com/productdisplay/tool_family_template.asp?SKU=6000&Color=99CCFF
. . . . has multiple contour-shaped sandpapers (like cylinders squashed lengthwise, which clip into the sander), variable speeds.... If I recall, it ran in the neighborhood of $69 in the kit, which included several sanding belts as well as a set of "shapers" ... these are rubber bits with various different shapes to better mimic the contours of the piece being sanded.. .it works on the same premise as the rotary tool. It uses different attachments that are specially shaped for sanding and buffing. . . . I use a piece of soft cloth around the attachment bar to buff my PC to a fine sheen. I just cut a square and wrap it around the bar then secure it back into place.

Scumbuster (rechargable bathroom, etc., scrubber) --Elizabeth's article on adapting a Scumbuster http://www.pcpolyzine.com/february2001/scumbuster.html
...She also has a piece of old denim attached for buffing. Note that you get a different effect on each grit if you are sanding close to the center or at the outside. Lenora

If you have any electric motor with a shaft, you can adapt it into a buffer. My DH used a 1/3 hp. motor which had a 1/4" shaft, mounted onto a 2" x 6" wood block which was bolted to the end of my heavy duty work bench. I went to a jewelry supplier and purchased a tapered spindle which attaches to the shaft with a set screw. Onto the spindle, I mounted a single stitch 4" muslin buffing wheel. There are a couple of places where you can buy the tapered spindle: Rio Grande Supplies, Tools & Equipment: 1-800-545-6566 (M-F, 8:30-5:30 MT) www.riogrande.com; or Gorbet USA….perhaps you can search your yellow pages for jewelry supplies. . . the spindle was only about $6.00 and the buffing wheel about $3.00. Patty B.

Try a hand-held battery operated shoe polisher to buff your clay creations. You can use the brush to get into grooves and tight spots; the buffer to shine. It speeds the buffing time and eliminates arm strain. They are relatively inexpensive and can be adapted with your own replacement buffing pads. Michele
....I bought a large commercial shoe buffer (the kind they have at hotels) at a garage sale a few years ago. It's my favorite buffing tool. I can push the clay item into it with my whole hand and not worry about hurting myself, and it does a nice job of shining the item up. The one I have is built into a metal box, too, which catches any strays. Nuchi
....... I found an old shoe polishing machine (made by Dremel) at a thrift shop. ...
I have no idea what the big polishing pads are made of but the left one is fluffy red, the right one fluffy black... it has the on/off switch (push button) on the base, and fits on a table ...can't compare it with other methods because I've only used a piece of soft cloth before, but it works well. (I passed by a fancier one a couple years ago because it had a long handle on it at a 90 degree angle
to the base, which would be fine for shoes, but not handy for PC
.) Karen in NC

my hand mixer ....came with these long, narrow curlique looking beaters for kneading bread ...I took some super soft velour fabric I had, cut a big square, folded it in fourths, rubber banded to the end of one beater, used it on low speed, and voila! It really brought out the shine the way hand buffing had not. My mixer worked with only one beater "plugged in," I'm not sure if all do. trena_b

I'm wondering if I could use the electric filing & buffing kit made for use on fingernails that I have for buffing out my clay. It has attachments much like my dremmel but lighter and smaller. Think its called The Nail Genie from the beauty supply store. Think it will work? Sandy
....I got an electric nail file by Revlon (a cheapy) and I was so disappointed because when I put enough pressure to file or buff my nails, it just stopped! ...didnt have enough power..... BUT then, I used it to file (sand) some fingerprints out of a very tight area (between the nose and cheek) of a face i am making and it worked like a charm and FAST!!...BUT dont push too hard ...they dont take much pressure to use at all... There are different tips and one is very small. Jade
...I do lots of cab face things and it would be wonderful to have a small tool like that to do the sanding around eyes and noses. jazzybead2
...however, DO NOT ever use these nail buffers to actually buff (the top of) your nails ..... i was a nail tech...afterward your nails will flake and crack and go to pot! ...these also produce heat, and so can damage your nail bed and cause serious permanent damage. (if you use them on your cuticles, you may go too deep, resulting in ridges, infection and all sorts of horrible pain).... taking layers off your nail also opens up room for nasty things to get in the layers and cause problems. twiggy
...I just have a pointed tip and a big egg shaped one... the others are like flat round things so I cant use them. Jade

While I was standing in line at Walgreen's I saw a cheap ($5) battery-powered soft toothbrush with a rotating head, which I thought might work pretty well for buffing. I'm still not sure how great it is for that, but I did try it today on unbaked clay to take the fingerprints off, and I was pretty impressed with the ease and the results. Anybody else have one of these? I've actually wondered how it would be to use it with toothpaste on baked pieces! Suzanne (Knoxville)

(for slower speed) I just bought a hand cranked bench grinder for polishing metal. It is wonderful! It goes at a much slower speed (controlled by me) and doesn't whip the piece out of my hands. Yet it still does a great job on polishing. I can even crank it in the reverse direction and not have to worry about losing an eye. I bought it off eBay for $7, but you could also buy a new one for around $16. http://www.toolsale.com has them (although I don't know if it's listed on the site). It's a great tool and it won't break the bank to try it. Jill

tumble buffing

I agree with Dotty that (tumble) buffing doesn't give it the same high shine that buffing on a regular buffer does, but I like the effect. ntt2
...would using the heat method below make for a higher shine? (using which materials? in a vibratory tumbler?)

If you made a felt bag, put the beads and more felt pieces in the bag and then tumble them, what would happen in the vibrating tumblers? I am thinking it might work better that way as all of the beads would be contained within felt.
....I made a flannel pouch that would fit in the barrel, and then also added little pieces of flannel and the beads (the little pieces may not be needed.)
....I have gotten a nice shine after only 4 hours, but I usually leave them in overnight (about 8 hours.) .
... remember to make sure that the beads are totally dry before buffing them in the tumbler (I didn't ruin them, but I had to make a new pouch and buff them again!) Helen

PIECES only:
... run the beads through a tumbler with a batch of wool felt squares after you are all done sanding, cut up to the same size as your sandpaper squares (1/4 to 1/2 inch?)
.......Timing depends on how much you have sanded, how smooth the beads are and how high a shine you want on the beads. I've been playing with this technique a while now and have gotten GOOD results...Connie
... I was happier with felt (polyester or wool felt?) than I had been when trying cotton diapers.
..........I cut the felt into circles that just fit into the tumbler.... I put the first circle in the bottom. Then I take a strip of felt and put it against the sides
......... then I put in layers of beads separated by circles of felt....etc....until its about 3/4 full.
..........then put the drum on the tumbler and off it goes! ....This is with no liquid ;))
..........I don't have a specific time...I just check every two or three hours and take the beads out when I'm happy with the shine.
..........Also, you may want to "stir" the beads up a bit....the ones in the bottom layer don't pick up a shine quite as fast.
.... ..You could also try this using polyester batting...or any fabric you would normally use to buff beads.
.....btw, between grits, I was wiping off the beads by hand during my last dry tumbling run with those static dusting cloths ... they were bringing up a nice shine (haven't tried them in the tumbler). Jules
...I tried felt pieces in my vibratory tumbler.... the beads vibrated and wiggled right through the felt pieces and settled in the bottom of the bowl, leaving the felt floating (?) and useless above.
.....When I tried felt pieces in my rotaty tumbler, they got pummeled and packed against the tumbler sides (felt is really really good at sticking to itself) This meant the beads were primarily tumbling around hitting each other
.........Including a fabric liner with the fabric pieces (just not felt), would definitely make the tumble buff more efficient, however. Desiree

old denim & jeans:
...I cut up old denim jeans, and I taped them on the sides as well as putting in loose bits. Buffing with these in a barrel tumbler works really well. Susheke

... I cut up a pair of used demin jeans into roughly half-inch squares, threw them and a few of my tumble sanded beads into my kiddie tumbler.... I let them tumble for about 20 hours, but they didn't look too much shinier than they did after 7 hours . . .
...tumbling buffing with denim produces a low luster sheen on a clay surface which previously sanded with high grits (1000, 1500) .
...(I tumble sand from 400 grit to 2500 grit) ...then a final cycle in the tumbler with denim --one day usually suffices for buffing. dixie
...I've tried a few different fabrics and found that the denim works the best....you're right, it doesn't take longer than 8 hours.. Carolyn, Mass.
...for getting a hold of old denim, think thrift store/resale shop... prewashed old denim
....... also lots of weights and finishes to select from, and cheap. . . you may even pick up some interesting findings (buttons, clasps) as an added bonus with old denim garments. Karen NC
...since I don't have any old denim, I went out and bought some new denim.... cut it up and popped in my handy dandy little red tumbler with some new beads that had a lot of transluscent layering and voila! 12 hours later,it had stained my beads blue! ...so be sure to wash new denim several times before using it to buff the beads! Christine
....If you can, try to find white denim, because after a while the blue from a pair of old used jeans I used did start to tint the beads. Desiree

(after denim-tumbling, for an even higher shine)
...the best surprise was that then high-speed buffing the denim-tumbled surface was lightning fast!
...Dremel buffing a previously-denim-tumbled bead took about 30-60 sec.!....(using a Dremel, it normally it takes me about 5-10 minutes to buff a sanded bead to a high shine)

I got some shiny smooth polyester which I to plan to try.... I've found that polymer and polyester/acrylic-based things, like polyester felt and acrylic finishes, go together quite nicely. So I've a feeling, the shiny smooth polyester fabric for tumbling should do well.
......I don't know if there is a softer fabric that could create a higher shine than denim when tumbled. Has anyone has tried certain polyesters or silks? Desiree

I let my beads tumble with an small pieces of old t-shirt for 2 days (just beads & fabric) after sanding... great polish! Valerie

LePoppet is introducing Micro-Surface Polishing Fabric on Ebay. The fabric is the same type used to get a "glass-like" finish on bowling balls and comes in 3200 and 3400 grits . . . Each piece measures 3"x6" and is perfectly capable of lasting through 5 or 6 tumbling sessions in a rock tumber. Maria


My 14 month son threw one of my polymer pens into the clothes dryer (when I blinked).... the interesting part is that it came out kind of shiny.... as if I buffed it.... Hmmmmmm.... Can this be an "easy" way to shine my beads and things...<snip> Maybe this will be known as the Zohar method (my son's name) which means sparkle/shine in Hebrew? . . .

(This idea is originally for sanding, but would it work for buffing too?)
...I especially liked their tip about using a clothes dryer as makeshift tumbler (which uses a separate container to hold the pieces). Desiree http://www.theworkshop.net/Tips/wood_tips/woodwork_tips.htm#sand
"....quick, easy sanding of multiple small pieces: ...Most manufacturing operations use abrasive tumbling machines to remove burrs from small pieces. Chances are, you have the makings for such a machine in your laundry room...called a "clothes dryer". . . . ...Find a soft, plastic container that contained margarine, lard or similar products. The 5-lb size is a good choice.. . . Line the inside of your container with sandpaper, double-stick taped or glued into position. Place your small pieces inside the container and snap the top into position. Toss the container into the clothes dryer, along with a blanket or several heavy towels. Set the dryer on a "no-heat" setting, turn it on and let it do the work for you. Remove it frequently to check on your progress."
.....also see Tumbling > Misc. for more on using the dryer to "tumble sand"

washing machine....will crate a lovely smooth, satin finish on beads
... put baked beads (sanded first?) into an old sock ...add small strips of white cotton....knot & place in a lingerie bag... then in a 2nd lingerie bag.
....throw in a regular wash with the clothes (any setting or temp., but no bleach)... remove at end of wash, and allow to dry. Nanetta

Someone mentioned using a salad spinner for (sanding or buffing?) clay beads.

Other Ways to get a high-gloss shine

baking on slick surfaces (no sanding or buffing):
...Baking polymer clay pressed tightly against a very smooth surface (sheets of glass, metal or ceramic tiles or smooth aluminum foil, etc.) will also give a high-gloss finish to the side contacting that surface
......when the clay is removed after cooling, it's surface will be glassy because polymer clay softens while heating and takes on the texture of whatever it's touching (this is also what causes those unwanted shiny spots on clay after baking if there has been contact here and there with alum. foil...the same thing happens when polymer bowls are created over temporary glass bowl armatures and the clay completely contacts the glass; in that case the interior of the bowl will have a really glassy finish while the outside will be matte).
To make shiny tiles for example, for mosaics or other things, some clayers will press a sheet of raw clay (patterned or not) to a sheet of glass to bake... then cut tiles or other shapes from the sheet afterward (yields one shiny side)
...PöRRö's shiny flat surfaces from baking between 2 tiles ..(ceramic tiles) with a weight on top? (both sides shiny)
http://members.surfeu.fi/porro/eninti.htm (more in Mosaics > Tiles?)

brief high heat
... I had a wonderful accident the other day... I bumped up the temp to 350 degrees just to raise the temp slightly but quickly. I hadn't realized that the top elements would come on (as well as the bottom ones), and my pan with beads was on the top shelf. ....the elements got red hot and I noticed smoke (not a lot but enough to know what was happening). ....I immediately removed the beads and they were perfectly shiny! ... and no burns or markings at all. Just perfectly shiny.... Now I'm thinking there must be a way to do this, on purpose. To shine beads without having to sand, polish, or glaze. Wouldn't that be great!? Especially for those small 7mm beads that you would never do that to anyway. Cindy P.
......the shine I got was actually a complete accident. I used FimoClassic and I'm pretty sure I burned it, cause there was smoke coming out of the oven. When I pulled my items out, they had that shine. (I've only used FimoSoft before and that one bakes to a nice matte finish even when you burn it). honeysuckle

more on electric-buffing SAFETY

buffing safety:
......tie back your hair ( you don't even want to hear that story!), remove dangling necklaces and bracelets, and tightly roll up your sleeves.
.....wear eye protection. - Wear a dust mask. The cotton wheel throws off tiny fibers that you do not want to breathe (esp.new ones)
.....buff somewhere (the porch, the garage) where no one else, human or animal, will breathe the fibers, or be hit by a flying bead.
....buff on the underside of the wheel, so flying pieces fly *away* from you. I have my wheel on the porch and there's a giant bag of birdseed behind it. It keeps anything that gets torn from my fingers from disappearing and often from breaking.

My DH watched me buffing with my handy bench grinder the other day, and gave me the "shop teacher lecture". Guys get this in basic 7th grade shop class, apparently.. to wit: hair pulled back.--rings and watch off.----sleeves short or firmly rolled up.--necklaces, scarves and loose or floppy clothes off.--goggles on.--dust-grade mask on for buffing or grinding. It seems harsh, but I'd rather be harsh than lose digits (or get my hair caught in the machine) Beth
...A friend of mine decided to buff up one of her beads that was hanging on a cord already. And she buffed this bead while the cord was around her neck - what was she thinking? Let's just say she was VERY lucky to have been able to turn the switch off in time. Geo

Be certain you wear a dust mask when buffing. Always!... Even if you manage to buff without one for some time, you can suddenly begin getting a very bad reaction to the clay dust. I know, I had been buffing without one for a year and then suddenly I began getting a asthma-like attack which I'd never had before. It got really acute. Since then I've always worn a mask and never had it happen again.

Hold the piece (almost at the bottom) of the wheel. If you hold it higher and more forward and it should torque out of you hand, it will be flung right at you.
When (not if!) the wheel sends something flying, it will shoot out behind the buffer with quite a bit of speed and intensity. Some people put a box or blanket behind the wheel to protect the item (and make it easier to locate). Make sure at least that there are no pets, people or breakable items in that area. Irene


no buffing

brief high heat ...for gloss finish without buffing (?)
...I had a wonderful accident the other day... I bumped up the temp to 350 degrees just to raise the temp slightly but quickly. I hadn't realized that the top elements would come on as well as the bottom ones, and my pan with beads was on the top shelf ..the elements got red hot, and I noticed smoke (not a lot but enough to know what was happening).
....I immediately removed the beads and they were perfectly shiny! ... and no burns or markings at all. Just perfectly shiny. Now I'm thinking there must be a way to do this, on purpose. To shine beads without having to sand, polish, or glaze. Wouldn't that be great!? Especially for those 7mm beads that you would never do that to anyway. Cindy P.
(clay probably softened a bit so smoothed out... but on bottom a non-shiny spot, or elevated on skewers?)

buffing plus liquid finishes

I have a few reasons for applying Varathane over the buffing. . . that way the Varathane has less to adhere to, and more of the excess sheets off rather than adhering as a thicker coating (that's when you get that "glopped on" look)..
(I also wait at least 24 hrs. after the Varathane dries before handling at all.)
. . . .For one thing, the buffing does seem to lose its shine, especially in a piece that gets a lot of knocking around, such as a pendant. . . . the surface of a varathaned piece is a lot more durable than that of an item that has been buffed only (wouldn't you expect it to? after all, it IS a floor finish!)
(In fact, I did a craft show last weekend, and a customer from last year came up to my table. She was wearing a pendant that she had bought. She told me that she wore it at least three or four times a week, and blah, blah, blah, but as I listened, I marveled at the rock-hard shine it still bore. Not a scratch on it. Whereas, I have a few pendants that I polished up really well with my buffer. I thought they were so shiny that I didn't need to do a thing more. Over a few wearings, they have become quite dull by comparison. So, my perception is that the varathane finish gives it a much greater permanence.)
. . . Second, since I want to achieve the ultimate transparency and glassiness, I go the extra mile to buff AND varnish. I think it makes a difference.?
. . . A third reason is that it gives added strength over glued areas. Some of my pendant loops are leaf-back bails that are attached with superglue. We all should be aware that with time the superglue bond can fail. As an insurance policy against that happening, I press the the bail into the back of the pendant before curing. After curing, sanding, and buffing, I glue the bail into place in its pre-formed groove. then I dip the pendant into the varathane, covering the pendant entirely - including the leaf part of the bail.
...(for those which weren't treated this way) I end up having to resurface with the finest grit of sandpaper, buff, and then dip in Varathane, like I should have done in the first place. Elissa

For an extra-elegant sheen or shine, a several rounds of buffings can be used after using a liquid finish.
...After sanding/buffing. . . I put a VERY thin coat of Future (or other liquid acrylic like Varathane, etc.?) on the piece
.......when it's dry, I bake for 10 mins
.......then I take it to the buffing wheel again.
......( I don't do it very often cos it's so many extra steps, but the shine is really fantastic when I do (without being an artificial type shine). Shelley M.
...I have buffed some older pieces, even over Future, and it gives an incredible gloss to the project. Pam