The one area of silversmithing I don’t enjoy is polishing!. I’ve tried a number of ways to avoid or cut down the amount of time I spend on the polishing lathe. After many years of experimenting I’ve found the best way to reduce your polishing time is to have a prefectly prepared surface before you go near the polishing lathe.
The way I do this is by making my own emery sticks so I have a variety of shapes, sizes and grades. The initial reason I made my own was because I couldn’t get the shapes I was looking for to get into tight angles and curves. I started with a length of wooden dowel and adapted it to fit into awkward shapes.
Here’s how I did it…
So I start with the wooden dowel cut into lengths. I then cut my emery paper to size. I usually cut around three squares from each grade so I can have each shape stick in a variety of grades eg. 600, 800, 1000, 1200.
Then it’s just a matter of taping the paper in place with some really strong tape ( I use Gorilla tape). If you want a sharp edge it might be better to glue the paper but I think tape is quick and easy to remove if you want to change your paper.
Then I just mark the sticks with the grade number so I can pick it up quickly on the bench. I also colour code them, the brighter the colour the finer the paper. I know this sounds a bit crazy but I started doing this with my solder and it has saved me so much time. If I want a fine emery stick I’ll just have to scan the bench to look for the one with the red mark!
So there you have it, proof that making your own tools can often be better than buying them!