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Polishing Puzzle

Posted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 10:13 am
by smallbitz
I am in the process of making my first (useable) drop ring vase. I plan to cut off the rim with my tile saw. In the past I used diamond hand pads to take small needles of pieces, but have never really had to much hand cold working.

I don't have a lap or wet belt, so my only choice after sawing is hand pads. I know how to use them (!) but how do I get the glossy shine back on the rim if I can't fire polish? Sure would appreciate your advice!

Re: Polishing Puzzle

Posted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 10:53 am
by Rick Wilton
very slowly, with finer and finer grits then you'll need to go to cork or felt with cerium.

To do this by hand would be excruciating (for me)

You can get a small belt sander for around $100 that'll make it MUCH easier.


With this you can get into the inside lip of the piece and get right up to a nice polish. ... lID=40581#

Re: Polishing Puzzle

Posted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:15 am
by Drewcilla
I saw this link for the sander before and would love to get it. I applied to register but was turned down. It appears that I'm not "in a related industry." I have a resale license but they didn't ask for that information. Any advice?


Re: Polishing Puzzle

Posted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:54 am
by Drewcilla
FYI: This is the information provided by CRL when I asked who sold their products.

CRL is a wholesale distributor to the Glazing, Architectural, Construction, Industrial, and Automotive Industries, and cannot accept orders or provide pricing to individuals.

We have located the companies listed below that can assist you with the product you are looking for. Any of them can order this product from us for you. You can contact them by phone, e-mail and their web site if we have provided that below. For the best results, be sure to tell them you were referred by the CRL web site.

Yana DK Hardware (877) 509-8040 Here Web Site
Dave Glass Distributors (800) 779-2430 Here Web Site

Re: Polishing Puzzle

Posted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 12:57 pm
by Brock
That is pretty normal, big distributors protect their retail outlets. Frankly, if you don't have, or have access to, a flat lap I would just go with a series of grits on a piece of float. It's almost foolproof, and while that little belt sander would be quicker in the hands of someone with experience, there is a learning curve, especially on a thin flat rim. I have seen people put multiple bevels on a rim, instead of a flat surface.

Re: Polishing Puzzle

Posted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:02 pm
by David Jenkins
We polished the rims of our drop vases in a class I took at Hot Glass Houston using 1/4" float "pads" and wetted silicon carbide grit. It was AMAZING as to how fast it went - far, far easier than I ever thought it would be. I bet it didn't take more than 5 minutes at any one grit, and we got to a beautiful matte finish in maybe 20 minutes with very little exertion.

Doing it that way has the added benefit that you can be pretty well assured that the rim will be in a single plane. (Whether it's parallel to the base will be up to you.)

Re: Polishing Puzzle

Posted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:28 pm
by Morganica
I'm with Brock. If you're willing to invest the time, you can do this pretty cheaply and effectively with grit, float glass and water. One other thing to consider: The problem with power hand grinders/polishers is that you've got to clamp down smaller/lighter work (you'll be putting a lot of pressure on it, and it will tend to move around, potentially crack), and you also need to keep the grinder perfectly flat and even to avoid gouging/rounding over the glass. With float/grit handworking, you plop down the glass, plop on the water and grit, and go.

I've also done this with wet-dry sandpaper--it's not quite as messy. You'll need wet-dry sandpaper in 200, 400, 600 and 800-grit, waterproof tape, a piece of float glass at least a couple of inches bigger than the diameter of your piece, a spraybottle of water, and some thin sheet foam, thin fleece, terry cloth, or an old cloth diaper. The cloth/foam underneath the sandpaper increases the cutting action.

Cut the foam/cloth slightly smaller than the sandpaper, tape it to the float glass, then cover it with sandpaper and tape that down. Set it on the table, mist the sandpaper with water, set the glass down on the sandpaper and start pushing the glass around and down on the sandpaper. Keep it moving, mist as the sandpaper dries out (keeps the dust down). When the sandpaper starts to look worn or clogged, replace it. When you can't see individual scratches on the glass, switch to the next-finer grade of sandpaper.

If your cuts are very uneven, you'll want to start with a much coarser grit, and it'll take a lot more time--you have to wear the glass down. (This is why you make your cuts as perfectly flat and even as possible)

Going to 800-grit with the sandpaper will give you a soft, satin finish that looks really nice. If you keep working it until 800-grit sandpaper wears out, you'll start polishing the glass and increasing the gloss to a soft shine.

If you want high gloss, switch over to diamond smoothing handipads from HIS once you've finished the 800-grit. ( They come in 325, 600 and cerium.

It takes less time than you think--I generally rent some videos, plop down on the sofa with the float glass in a pan on the coffee table, and can do a couple of pieces in an evening.

Re: Polishing Puzzle

Posted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 3:16 pm
by smallbitz
Thanks for the great ideas. I really like the thought of putting it down on glass with wet/dry paper and going through the grits that way. I don't think I'll be doing too many things that I'll need to buy a lap for (at least not yet), and that sounds like a great (and much safer) idea. I think it will keep the edges much more even as well.

The wet/dry sandpaper you mention; are you referring to the black sheets that you get in the hardware? Just want to make sure! Thanks to all!

Re: Polishing Puzzle

Posted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 6:42 pm
by Morganica
Yup. Just the plain old hardware store wet-dry sandpaper. If you go to a really good hardware (or sometimes autobody) store you can get it in grits up to 3200. Sometimes the big box hardware stores only carry two or three of the most common grits.

Re: Polishing Puzzle

Posted: Thu Jun 13, 2013 7:16 pm
by Drewcilla
I wish there was a "Like" button for the posts. Thanks to everyone for the great information.


Re: Polishing Puzzle

Posted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 3:43 am
by seachange
Hi Drecilla

You got fantastic information. Just wanted to say that when I did my first vase (also sawing the border with the tile saw), I tried to use diamond pads (600 and up).

It was mainly a test piece, therefore was only aiming at a soft, matte finish.

I ruined more than I gained, because found it difficult to keep the slightly soft diamond pad just exactly on the cut edge. It slightly sanded the inside and the outside of the vase, close to the edge.

The second test I did on the float with silicon carbide, that worked really nicely, and on the cut border only.

All the best, seachange

Re: Polishing Puzzle

Posted: Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:06 pm
by JestersBaubles
Just an FYI that Bullseye glass has a new tutorial on cold working with loose grit. The video is for subscribers, but if you are in the learning phase of fused glass, I recommend that you invest the $40 or so and subscribe (and if you go to the Expo in Vegas every April, you can get it even cheaper).

Dana W.

Re: Polishing Puzzle

Posted: Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:19 pm
by smallbitz
Thanks. In my scouring for more info, I also found a free tutorial on HIS. I just LOVE those guys! They have lots of free video tutorials, and just great advice/customer service if you ever need to call them!

Re: Polishing Puzzle

Posted: Wed Jun 19, 2013 12:56 am
by Joe Lorenzino
I am with Morganica on this one, with a slight twist. Before I built a lapping machine, I used the wet/dry paper, but stuck it onto an arborite
counter top section ( the part left over that they cut out for the sink) with temporary adhesive. This comes in a spray can, and is normally used in the autobody trade to attach sanding discs.
It is like a “sticky note “ in a can, as it is designed to peel off easily. Remove the price sticker from the paper, spray the back side, then stick it to a flat surface, add water, and lap away.

In my experience, you WANT a lap. They are great for trueing up pieces to use in geometric color bars, finishing edges, beveling, faceting, etc., etc.

The drop outs in the picture were both finished on the home made lap using worn 600 grit wet/dry paper as the final step. The same results can be achieved by hand. It just takes longer.
(sorry if this doesn't show up right, as I'm still not sure how to post pictures)


Re: Polishing Puzzle

Posted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:56 am
by smallbitz
Thanks all. I went with the graded grits on float, and my first attempt went fairly well (thanks for the pan and the movie idea, Morganica!!). The only issue I have is the very outer and inner edge of the rim...It's still a bit rough. Do I just need to use hand pads on that part, or should I have turned the vase outward as I was grinding? Hmmm.

Re: Polishing Puzzle

Posted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:46 am
by David Jenkins
I'd be careful of trying to bevel the outer edge using the loose grit. I guess, in theory, it's possible, but I've managed to break two vases attempting that. I think the problem was the stress induced by the uneven pressure that was being applied - it was essentially all one on very small arc of the circular rim. I think (for me, at lest) that hand pads are far safer. (Plus , you won't be able to bevel the inside rim with the loose grit at all, I should think.)

Re: Polishing Puzzle

Posted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:09 pm
by Morganica
I set up a jig that lets me use loose grit or sandpaper-on-board to bevel edges and it worked pretty well. You make a right triangle out of three boards, attach it to the table next to your grinding surface, and move the piece on the angled board, grinding down the corner. You keep doing that until you've gotten as much bevel as you want (it's also a good way to just put a 45-degree angle on an edge when you're joining pieces). Like this:
hand beveling jig.png

If you mess with the angles you can pretty much put whatever degree of bevel you want on the piece. My friend Bob Heath rigged an adjustable jig for his tile saw this way--he does very precise joinings (if you haven't seen his work, you should--it's gorgeous).

And if you flip the jig over you get a 90-degree angled jig that makes it very easy to get perfectly perpendicular grinds.

Mine works for anything with a large flat plane and a straight edge, where you can rest the glass flat and push it back and forth. The downside is trying to do something curved and/or with no flat back to rest on the jig. You could do a vase, for example, but it might drive you crazy trying to hold it straight while you ground, and keeping it rotating evenly.

Re: Polishing Puzzle

Posted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 3:06 pm
by RHunter
Hi All,

I just tripped over a couple of Youtube vid's that show the mini belt sander being used....

It may be helpful in determining if your work would be compatible with this this instance , the guy has his glass anchored in a vise as someone mentioned earlier.


Re: Polishing Puzzle

Posted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:44 pm
by smallbitz
I think the jig idea will work great for me! What I'm doing is probably a little too delicate for the hand held sander. I actually love hand cold working, and just don't want to invest any more $$$ right now in a lap or wb. I'm finding it extremely therapeutic!! What do you think of using a smaller fixed piece of wood, like a triangle (or pyramid) shape to polish the inside rim of a vase. Can you visualize that?? You would put the vase over/on top of the pyramid and grind the inside edge against it. Not sure what I would attach it to...Does that sound like it would work? Cynthia, you explain things SO WELL! Can't wait to make the jig! Not sure I'M making myself clear.

Re: Polishing Puzzle

Posted: Thu Jun 20, 2013 5:29 pm
by David Jenkins

How does that jig work with the lips of circular pieces, such as a drop vase? I'm just so snakebit from the disastrous consequences of applying unbalanced stresses to such pieces, I may be looking for problems where they don't really exist?