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Quinn

Water-Wet Polish?

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Hello everybody. I'm having a lot of trouble achieving a water-wet polish on quartz and obsidian. After shaping with 100 grit carving burrs (using my dremel with flex-shaft), I then go to 280 grit and then 600 grit. After that I go to the 1200 grit. Between each grit, I check to make sure that I removed scratches from the previous grit sand I've been very careful about cleaning up between each grit to avoid contamination. Once I finish with the 1200, the piece generally looks pretty good, but still a bit hazy. From there I've tried a number of different things. I've tried going to 3000, then 8000, then 14000 and then 50000. I've also tried omitting the 8000 and the 14000. No matter what I do I can't seem to get that haze off the surface of the piece I"m working on. Any suggestions?

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quinn,to obtain a water wet polish on quartz and obsidan is rough.i don't know if i can help or not.i don't know the size of the piece you are working on.the only carvings i polish very much is my flowers and jewelry type carvings.there is no polishing at all on my figurines,i only sand them with 600 grit cratex rubber bonded wheels and points.if you look at the fiddle player on here that is all he got.when i polish a carving i use tin-oxide with a little 50,000 diamond paste mixed in.i cut my own felt wheels about 2 inches and mount them on a mandrel,soak them in water and then dip them in the mixture and polish.it slings polish everywhere,mostly on me.i look like a speckled pup when i polish,and i don't mean pretty.daniel's website has a good tip on polishing with diamond paste.be careful of to sudden of a heat buildup on the quartz and obsidan,it can mean diaster.best regards,kenneth neaves

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Quinn:

 

I don't usually try to polish things to high gloss, but a few weeks ago I had a large clear quartz crystal from which I had made a small crystal ball, and I too wanted a high gloss finish. I had gone to 3000 and still had a haze, so I went to tin oxide on a leather pad (with a little water). The guys here at may gem and mineral club say that the only way to get a really high finish on agate or jade is to get it hot, in other words, let it get warm from the friction of a wheel, be it leather or wood or felt. I have to admit that it seems to work, but it scares me. I don't let it get too hot, and I don't dip it in water to cool it down (afraid of the shock).

 

There's no way I'd try this on obsidian without doing a test piece to see if it shatters.

 

There is a cheater's way to help achieve the finish: go to as high a grit as you want (say 8000) and if you still have the haze try waxing it with a good, non-yellowing wax like Renaissance wax. It works.

 

Debbie K

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deb,the little felt buffs that i cut out and use to polish are small enough that you don't get as much heat,as fast as you do on the bigger buffs.over the years i have learned when you start getting some drag on the buff you wet it with polish again.to much drag and you have to much heat.years ago a customer of mine had a very large carving of rose quartz that had some of the vine work broke off it. he wanted me to repair it,smoothing it up was no problem.polishing was the problem,it had as good of polish down in the folds as it had on the high spots.i couldn't figure out what they had used to get that high of polish.i needed to get a match for their polish.finally i was getting hot and getting the carving pretty hot when i noticed a funny smell.i scraped down in some of the folds and it had not been polished at all,they had buffed it with beeswax.the only way to get a high polish on quartz is time.best regards to all of you,kenneth neaves

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Thank you both for the responses.

 

Kenneth, you say that the only way to get a high polish on quartz is time. I have no problem with that, I would just like to know which grit I should be spending time on. I have a feeling that there is a certain stage in which I need to spend more time to remove that hazy appearance on the surface before I move on to the final polish. Or perhaps it is the final polish that needs more time before it works?

 

I know what you're saying about wax, as a quick way to achieve that glossy look, but in my opinion it takes away from the overall value of a piece if you can't get it to the polish you want naturally. I've seen numerous pieces of obsidian and quartz polished to a perfect water-wet polish, without wax of any kind. Think of all those faceted amethyst stones you see on the market, all of which are polished to a water-wet finish. Now when I see a piece of quartz polished to that level it just makes me jealous cuz I've been trying a lot and can't seem to figure it out...

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quinn,you may need to spend more time on your final polishing stage.like i said,i use tin oxide with a little 50000 diamond paste mixed in it.the only time i have ever used all diamond for polishing was years ago when i carved a lot of rubies,sapphires,and spinel.that has been so long ago i forget how many stages i used.you have to develope your own style of carving-all anyone else can do is advise you.you will learn from your mistakes and believe me,there will be mistakes.in a case right behind me is a pug dog carved from facet grade smokey quartz,he is about 3-4 inches high.several weeks was spent carving it and i got in to much hurry and it cracked.in a case in the other room is a 4 inch polar bear of facet grade clear quartz that didn't even get to the polishing stage before it cracked.only carving and making mistakes will give you the know how to carve.hang in there and best regards,kenneth neaves

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Quinn:

 

Like I said in my earlier post; assuming all stages of grit have been gone through and no scratches left behind and you still have haze, try pressing down hard enough that you generate some heat.

 

The crystal ball I made a few weeks ago is water clear, facet grade quartz and I had the same problem. I was using cerium oxide with a leather wheel and it wasn't removing the haze until I started really pressing down hard onto the wheel. (I incorrectly said tin oxide before, sorry) When it starting getting too hot, I stopped for a while and let it cool down naturally. It worked for me on the quartz.

 

The odsidian is another issue, as it is essentially glass. You can't press down on it or get it too hot as it would surely crack. I looked in one of my reference books and it recommends cerium oxide as a first choice for polishing obsidian and diamond, cerium and tin oxide for quartz. Sometimes a polish works on one stone but not another. I have alot of diamond powder and have been disappointed that sometimes it doesn't polish everything. One size doesn't always fit all.

 

There's a really interesting article in Lapidary Digest that I recently ran across discussing gemstone polishing, mostly from the point of view of a faceter, http://www.jewelryartistmagazine.com/feature/polishing_gemstones.cfm

 

I found it to be interesting, and may explain why some stones crack, especially towards the end of the "polishing" process. Good luck and I hope this helps.

 

Debbie K

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"... cerium oxide as a first choice for polishing obsidian..."

 

I can vouch for cerium oxide as polishing obsidian. I use it as a paste applied with a rubber wheel (backing disc from an old disc sander made to fit on an electric drill, or the rubber drum from a drum sander). Splatters everywhere, but gives a beautiful polish. I usually just follow 600 grit.

 

Don

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