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Polishing with dremel?

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by Knife Crazied, Dec 28, 2010.

  1. Knife Crazied

    Knife Crazied

    Apr 17, 2009
    What is the best thing to use when polishing with a dremel? As in flitz ect? I've been wanting to bring the bolster on a buck 112 to a high polish but I'm kinda lost on how. I just got the dremel and polishing kit for xmas. I seem to get a better polish when I do it by hand with a fiber rag and flitz. :confused: Help a girl out. :D
  2. kingsqueak


    Oct 21, 2010
    I just used one to polish the bolsters on a stockman.

    I found that it took pretty high speed and high pressure. Trouble was, it would juuust start to do the trick and the buffer wheel would strip on the mandrel...just start slipping.

    I think a can of Brasso and a rag might be a better idea.

    Oh I used some green rouge on the cloth wheel to initially clean it and that did the trick on the badly corroded bolsters and pins that I had.
  3. Jason B.

    Jason B. KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 13, 2007
    The small contact point of the dremel is the problem with it making even results. A 3in+ cotton polishing wheel with a bit of compound would be much better.
  4. Knife Crazied

    Knife Crazied

    Apr 17, 2009
    Cotton wheel? Green rogue?
  5. Jason B.

    Jason B. KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 13, 2007

    Yep, you can get small wheels with arbors to fit on drills or big ones for a bench grinder. I'd go with a better compound too, the stuff at the local hardware will work but the results will not be as good.
  6. Knife Crazied

    Knife Crazied

    Apr 17, 2009
    Ok so your talking about using a different tool. I'm wanting to stick with the dremel as its the only tool I own. :)
  7. Seals


    Oct 12, 2007
    Hi Ash...A dremel is really too high speed for polishing.You should be able to keep your Buck 112 nice and shiny with just flitz and a soft towel.
  8. Noctis3880

    Noctis3880 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jul 22, 2009
    Really? Because my brother got me a Dremel 4000 and I wasn't sure what to do with it, but if it buffs more aggressively than my 6 inch cotton wheels on my bench grinder then I feel I should try it as it's frustrating as hell to try and put a mirror polish on S30V or some other steel with vanadium carbides.
  9. Knife Crazied

    Knife Crazied

    Apr 17, 2009
    I totally agree that the high is to fast but I thought the low was ok, but your the knifemaker not me. :D I got the dremel 7.2
  10. pwet


    Feb 13, 2009
    please correct me if i'm wrong, i don't exactly know how much rpm a typical buffer runs, but even if it's twice slower than a dremel, the wheel is at least twice bigger ... rpm isn't everything ...

    but i'd agree that it's not the best tool for the job, at least for the final job, it may help but the result will be uneven because of the small size of the wheel it will need to be smoothed by hand.
  11. grizzled gizzard

    grizzled gizzard Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 31, 2010
    Right answer. :thumbup:
  12. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 6, 2000
    Here is my in-depth treatise on polishing with a Dremel:

    Simichrome polish and a soft cloth will give much better results.
  13. I used a Dremel with a 1" diameter felt wheel and a little bit of green compound to clean up & buff this:


    The 'shine' you see on the bolsters & delrin is the finished result.

    It's not impossible. You do need to be very careful, though. The felt wheel with the compound will generate a lot of heat quickly. Use the lowest speed possible. When working on or near delrin or other synthetic scales, use VERY LIGHT pressure (as if you were polishing with just a Q-tip chucked into the Dremel) and sweep VERY LIGHTLY across in a smooth motion. Lingering in a given spot will burn/melt the Delrin in a second. The same will result if you apply even a little too much pressure.

    The 'uneven' finish issue, isn't really as much of an issue on something small, like a bolster. I've had good results by moving the Dremel back & forth in a direction perpendicular to the spinning motion of the wheel. In other words, sweep LIGHTLY back & forth in a direction parallel to the long axis of the tool. On the knife pictured above, I had the wheel parallel to the 'seam' between the bolster & scale, moving the tool back & forth from the seam, towards the end of the bolster & back, while working gradually across the width of the bolster.

    I'd strongly recommend practicing first with your Dremel on something that you're not afraid to damage. Find something made of plastic/nylon/Delrin and see what results you get with it when applying excess pressure and/or lingering in one spot for a length of time. With lighter colored material, it's possible that you'll see some discoloring too. You'll quickly get a sense for the 'touch' needed when working on/near soft materials.

    There's also the potential for 'skating' into something you don't want to touch. The spinning wheel can 'bite' or grab if you lean into it too hard, or if you don't maintain a steady hold of both the knife and the tool.

    The felt wheel & compound won't do much for removing scratches in bolsters. For that, I've had good results with 400/600 grit sandpaper, then higher if desired.

    I'm not saying the Dremel is the best way to go about it. But, since you have the tool already, there's nothing wrong with taking the time to practice with it and find out what it's capabilities are (and yours too). Like any tool, it can do some very nice things in the hands of someone who takes the time to figure it out. Good luck.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2010
  14. grizzled gizzard

    grizzled gizzard Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 31, 2010
    This is obviously (to me) the job of one who has acquired considerable skill with a Dremel, and was patient enough to do it properly. Very few people can manage that sort of result, and a variable speed Dremel is pretty critical too.

    I've managed to do that before, it just takes too long. 0000 steel wool with some light oil and a rag with some Flitz or Semi-chrome... I don't remember which, I have both, so the directions will say...works a little better for me.

    That is a great job with a Dremel!
  15. Thanks Grizz.

    I'm sure there are simpler ways to go about polishing up a knife, but in this case, I was sort of SLOWLY feeling out what my Dremel could do. I'd actually had the thing for a long time, but hadn't taken much time to play with it and see what it could do. This knife had a few small, light rust spots on the main blade (you can still see the remainder of that in the picture), and that's what I originally dug out the Dremel & compound for. Did a decent job removing the red rust from the blade, also put a little extra 'sheen' on it. After that, I just sorta kept going. The bolsters were easy, they shined up quick. But, as I pointed out, the Delrin is tricky. That's where the LIGHT touch is really important. My comments about burning the Delrin were based on 'been there, done that.' Fortunately, when I did it, I was using light pressure, but lingered a little too long in one spot. Put a little blemish on the surface, but didn't go deep. I was able to gently buff it out again.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2010
  16. Knife Crazied

    Knife Crazied

    Apr 17, 2009
    When using the 400/600 grit sandpaper do you use what comes with the dremel kit or something else? I've been playing around with the dremel and seeing the different ways to go about this polishing. I'm learning. :)
  17. Actually, in reference to the sandpaper, I do all that by hand, not with the Dremel. Same principle of LIGHT pressure applies. Just the ordinary wet/dry stuff is fine (3M or Norton is what I have).

    If the bolsters are scratched, a technique that seems to work well is to sand only in one direction (as opposed to circular swirls). When you progress to the next grit, again sand in one direction, but perpendicular to the previous step. Makes it easier to see when you've completely removed the scratches and/or sanding lines from the previous grit. In my experience, once you get up to around 600 grit, the scratch pattern from the sanding is very fine. You could probably get away with going to the polishing step after that (using whatever method you prefer). If you want, you could also go to 800, 1000, 2000 grit if you like. By the time you finish the step at 1000, you should already see a pretty high shine on the brass.

    Obviously, if any scratches on the bolsters are heavy enough that the 400 doesn't quite remove them, go a step lower in grit (like 320, or down to 220 if need be). Once you see that the heaviest scratches have been removed, begin the normal progression back up the grit ladder (320/400/600/etc.).
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2010
  18. This got me to thinking. I broke out the calculator.

    The Dremel referenced by the OP (Dremel 7.2) has two speeds: 10,000 and 20,000 rpm (assuming I found the correct specs for this model).

    Assuming using the lower speed (10k) and a 1" diameter felt wheel, the wheel will rotate through it's full circumference (3.14") 10,000 times per minute. That translates to 31,400" of abrasive moving over the polished object, per minute.

    A 6" diameter buffing wheel, mounted on a bench grinder, running at the same pace (31,400" per minute), would be spinning at a rate of 1666 rpm. This is due, obviously, to the larger circumference of the wheel (18.84").

    An 8" diameter buffing wheel (circumference = 25.12"), running at 31,400" per minute, would have an equivalent rpm of 1250.

    Most 'low speed' bench buffer/grinders (both 6" and 8") are spec'd at about 1750 rpm. This puts it in perspective. A lot of people will shy away from using a Dremel because 10,000 rpm seems 'too fast', but won't hesitate to perform the same work on a bench-mounted 1750 rpm buffer/grinder, which might very well be faster and even more aggressive.
  19. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jun 6, 2000
    You can do lots of things with a Dremel. Learning HOW to do them is something a lot of people can't master. It requires practice, understanding how the tool works, and most importantly-finesse. You have to let the tool do the work.
  20. Sparljo


    Oct 20, 2006
    Its all about familiarity with the tool as always.

    I cant personally polish with a dremel worth a damn.

    Dremel is great for quickly messing up or fixing up a project, it all depends on how familiar I am with what I am doing.

    If something gets messed up with a rotary tool, most of the time other tools are needed to fix it, its not a good idea to continue on trying to fix it with the dremel.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2010

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