Pivot polishing with a Dremel?

Cespain

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I wanted to get any views on using a Dremel for pivot burnishing/polishing. I would normally use my clockmakers lathe (a Pultra Model P 8mm) but it is not working at the moment so I was wondering if I could use my Dremel suitably mounted or would it be spinning far too fast. When using the lathe I set the speed pretty much as slow as it would go but this is not possible with the Dremel which has a min rpm of about 3000.
 

Willie X

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If it's mounted and you can use a 1" hard felt wheel, it will work OK. You have to use light pressure and it takes a while longer. Tripoli will make your work go faster than rouge. Willie X
 
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roughbarked

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Still recall when I mounted a Makita variable speed drill in an attempt to make my own lathe with a chuck that would fit clocks. Burned out the starter coil by trying to maintain speeds lower than rated for the drill armature.
Yes to using a felt wheel as Willie X suggests mounted. Yes to foot control if you have one. Many people have repurposed the old Singer sewing machine foot control and motor. Not many better, in the long run. I have a couple set up to do different things. I also have a knee contol lever setup, again from Singer that I'll likely repurpose for another use. If I live through all this we are currently surviving.
Flexible drives are great but they do have a lifetime, which can be unfortunate at whatever time they get too tired. If you get one of these it is advisable to follow the lubrication instructions to the letter.
 
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Schatznut

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A Dremel tool with a 1" polishing buff on it, mounted firmly to your bench, is a wonderful tool for pivot polishing. Try a medium speed and plain old car paint polish. Dip the pivot in fresh polish and work it around the circumference of the buff slowly. Keep a cup of water handy; add a few drops to the buffing wheel to keep the polish alive. Be patient and careful. When you get done, rinse and scrub with mineral spirits to remove any residue. You'll be able to see yourself with the shine you can get.
 
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Schatznut

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People who are capable of seeing their reflection on their fingernails, know almost everything.
Yeah, but if they can see their reflection on their pivots, they know they've nailed it.
 
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comet61

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I wanted to get any views on using a Dremel for pivot burnishing/polishing. I would normally use my clockmakers lathe (a Pultra Model P 8mm) but it is not working at the moment so I was wondering if I could use my Dremel suitably mounted or would it be spinning far too fast. When using the lathe I set the speed pretty much as slow as it would go but this is not possible with the Dremel which has a min rpm of about 3000.
I use a Dremel with the Dremel work stand. Can be used as a drill press and then you can flip it 90° with different size collets on the Dremel for different size arbors and such. Works real well in my opinion.
 

Cespain

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Thanks for the views guys. I will give it a go with a buffing/polishing wheel. Roughbarked mentioned using car paint polish which seems logical but would something like Brasso or similar metal polish do the job? Willie X, I'm not familiar with Tripoli which I see is a polishing compound like rouge I imagine. Do you apply it to the buffing wheel and would one application do for polishing a pivot or would you need to refresh it? What about burnishing with a Dremel using a burnishing file, too fast for that?
 

wow

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Thanks for the views guys. I will give it a go with a buffing/polishing wheel. Roughbarked mentioned using car paint polish which seems logical but would something like Brasso or similar metal polish do the job? Willie X, I'm not familiar with Tripoli which I see is a polishing compound like rouge I imagine. Do you apply it to the buffing wheel and would one application do for polishing a pivot or would you need to refresh it? What about burnishing with a Dremel using a burnishing file, too fast for that?
Butterworths sells polishing wheels in three grades of coarseness which work great on a Dremel or a lathe. Very inexpensive.
 

JTD

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Butterworths sells polishing wheels in three grades of coarseness which work great on a Dremel or a lathe. Very inexpensive.
I think these wheels would not be 'very inexpensive' if you include the postage from USA to Ireland, where the OP is, and then add the Irish customs fees.

I am not familiar with the wheels sold by Butterworth (could you post a photo of the wheels in question?), but I am sure that similar ones must be available in Europe which would be cheaper for the OP, particularly since the Republic of Ireland is a member of the EU and he would have no customs to pay.

JTD
 

shutterbug

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Mr. Butterworth sells wheels intended for the Dremel tool. Three hardnesses, and they do a good job. Personally, I use my pivot file/burnisher tool with my variable speed drill. It's faster than setting everything up on either a lathe or a dremel for me.
 

Schatznut

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Thanks for the views guys. I will give it a go with a buffing/polishing wheel. Roughbarked mentioned using car paint polish which seems logical but would something like Brasso or similar metal polish do the job? Willie X, I'm not familiar with Tripoli which I see is a polishing compound like rouge I imagine. Do you apply it to the buffing wheel and would one application do for polishing a pivot or would you need to refresh it? What about burnishing with a Dremel using a burnishing file, too fast for that?
You'll be working with steel or, heaven forbid, nickel plating, so Brasso and the like probably wouldn't buy you anything. I've not tried metal polish, with the reasoning that car paint polish is going to be extremely fine grit and not aggressive.
 

Cespain

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I think these wheels would not be 'very inexpensive' if you include the postage from USA to Ireland, where the OP is, and then add the Irish customs fees.
Correct. We are very badly served for clock supplies and would normally get them from the UK but alas they are no longer with us in the EU so VAT and custom fees apply to anything bought there. Finding stuff in Europe can be difficult as can any communication with the suppliers. It is so easy for you guys in the US!
 

JTD

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Correct. We are very badly served for clock supplies and would normally get them from the UK but alas they are no longer with us in the EU so VAT and custom fees apply to anything bought there. Finding stuff in Europe can be difficult as can any communication with the suppliers. It is so easy for you guys in the US!
I wish I knew what sort of 'wheels' we are looking for - if I could see a photo, or more exact description, I might be able to help you.

JTD
 

Dick Feldman

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Do you think using abrasives on pivots might be counterproductive?
When polishing with abrasives, minute particles of those products embed themselves in the surface of the metal. Those cannot be removed with rinsing or other means.
When the polished pivot rides in a pivot hole it is already covered with something that will accelerate wear.
A more proper way to deal with rough pivots is to burnish or to replace with new pivots.
At times popular clock repair methods are akin to lemmings jumping in the ocean.
JMHO,
Dick
 

gmorse

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Hi John,
I wish I knew what sort of 'wheels' we are looking for - if I could see a photo, or more exact description, I might be able to help you.
I think you could find something very similar at Eternal Tools. The Butterworth discs are impregnated with a carbide abrasive and are 7/8" in diameter.

Regards,

Graham
 

JTD

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Hi John,


I think you could find something very similar at Eternal Tools. The Butterworth discs are impregnated with a carbide abrasive and are 7/8" in diameter.

Regards,

Graham
He'd still have to pay customs as Eternal Tools are in UK, but it probably wouldn't be very much.

JTD
 

Willie X

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They are called rubber wheels, or silicon polishers in the jewelry trade. I never liked them with jewelery because the finished surface was always left a little wavy and didn't reflect the light like I wanted it to.

These polishing/cutting wheels are available at any jewelery supply house, like 'Rio Grande'. They are usually color coded (for the abrasive) and come in many shapes and sizes.

Willie X
 

bangster

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Sometimes it sounds like you want to use the Dremel to spin the polishing wheel against the pivot.

Sometimes it sounds like you want to use the Dremel to spin the arbor/pivot against the polishing wheel..

I do not think the latter is advisable.
 
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Allan Wolff

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I am not familiar with the wheels sold by Butterworth (could you post a photo of the wheels in question?), but I am sure that similar ones must be available in Europe which would be cheaper for the OP, particularly since the Republic of Ireland is a member of the EU and he would have no customs to pay.
You can get the same polishing wheels from Gesswein Tools. Check out their Worldwide Distributors page to see if they can ship from someplace with reasonable shipping to you. I use the 7/8" square edge wheels. If you just need a quick polish, you can hold the clock wheel in one hand and the dremel tool with a pink wheel in the other hand and rotate them around each other. When using the course or medium wheels, you will want to mount the clock pivot in a lathe so the metal removal is even and controlled.
Allan
 

Cespain

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I presume is it the addition of the carbide particles in the Butterworth wheels that make this system (possibly) better than an ordinary buffing wheel with metal polish or rouge. There also seems to be differing opinions on the use of abrasives when polishing pivots so it's difficult to make a definitive judgement on which is the best system. From watching the videos which are polishing rather thick pivots I wonder how it would work on the very thin pivots of some French clocks, would the pressure needed to apply the wheel evenly to the pivot possible bend it.
 

gmorse

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Hi Cespain,
From watching the videos which are polishing rather thick pivots I wonder how it would work on the very thin pivots of some French clocks, would the pressure needed to apply the wheel evenly to the pivot possible bend it.
It's more likely to snap them, since they're typically left quite hard.

Watching that first video just made me feel very uncomfortable!

Regards,

Graham
 
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Allan Wolff

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I wonder how it would work on the very thin pivots of some French clocks, would the pressure needed to apply the wheel evenly to the pivot possible bend it.
It's more likely to snap them, since they're typically left quite hard.
I use the polishing wheels almost exclusively and after many hundreds of pivots, I have not bent or snapped a single one. Almost no pressure is applied to the pivot, the speed of the polishing wheels is what achieves the cutting or polishing. Buff sticks, Arkansas stones and certainly burnishers subject the pivots to far greater pressure that the polishing wheels. I actually prefer to use the wheels on thin pivots to reduce the chance of breaking one.

The main thing I like about the polishing wheels is speed. If the pivots are not scored and only need a polish with the pink wheel, a typical 2-train clock can be completed in about 5-10 minutes. Most times I don't bother to mount the wheels in a lathe. Instead I hold the wheel in one hand and the rotary tool in the other and rotate them around each other for about 5 seconds. I use the lathe with the course and medium wheels because they remove metal and it is too easy to mis-shape the pivots using the hand method. I also use a Foredom rotary tool instead of a Dremel because it has significantly more power, can run slower with better speed control, and the hand piece is not as bulky as a Dremel.

The wheels are not a perfect system though and there are a few things to watch out for. The course wheels can remove metal very rapidly. The technician in the first video must be applying almost no pressure to hold the wheel to the pivot for 20 to 30 seconds. That is long enough to completely remove the pivot if too much pressure is applied. 5-10 seconds is all it takes.

Another thing to watch out for is the wheels get out of shape easily. The corners will round off which can result in rounded corners between the pivot and shoulder of the arbor. For some reason, which I haven't figured out yet, the medium wheel seems to develop flat spots which make the wheel vibrate on the work. In both cases, they can be redressed quickly on a sharp corner of a scrap metal block. The pink wheels only polish and don't really remove any metal, but they do tend to wear out faster than the others and many times I only use the pink polishing wheels if there are no grooves to remove from the pivots. Because of this, I buy the course and medium wheels 10 at a time but buy the pink wheels in a box of 100 to save money in the long run.

After using the wheels, the pivots need to be cleaned to remove any grit from the wheels. I just run them back through the ultrasonic cleaner for a few minutes.
 

Cespain

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Thanks for that detailed reply. I'll see if I can rig a setup that will allow me to use the Dremel and maybe some way of holding the pivot more steady than I could by hand. I guess it would be good also if they could rotate either driven or by friction from the polishing wheels.
 

Ibehooved

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Sometimes it sounds like you want to use the Dremel to spin the polishing wheel against the pivot.

Sometimes it sounds like you want to use the Dremel to spin the arbor/pivot against the polishing wheel..

I do not think the latter is advisable.
I am equally confused as to what device holds the arbor. Can anyone clarify?
 

wow

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I am equally confused as to what device holds the arbor. Can anyone clarify?
I use the polishing wheels in a lathe and hold the arbor. They work great. You would need to figure out how to mount the Dremel. Mounting the arbor in a vice and polishing them that way would be difficult.
 

Schatznut

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Here's the setup I use...

Polisher.JPG
 

Cespain

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I guess whichever approach gives you the most control over ensuring that the polishing wheel meets the pivot evenly and precisely is the one to use. So as I won't have the use of a lathe I would opt for mounting the polishing wheel in the Dremel and rotating the pivot against it by hand .
 

SuffolkM

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Early up this thread, Dick commented that using abrasives on pivots might be counterproductive. To that point - cleaning parts that have been polished is essential. There can be quite a fog of particles of cutting pastes around a part if you use a felt wheel, particularly coming off in the direction of rotation. You cannot accept any of that staying on the part after polishing. I usually clean parts that have been polished using lighter fuel, which I find is just great (and affordable). It goes without saying it's flammable and needs some careful handling. I have been consistently surprised how much clean up is needed after using rouge, for example.
 

Schatznut

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That buffing wheel looks pretty well used. How often do you need change the wheel?
When it wears down to nothing I replace it with a fresh one.
 

wow

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I use the wheels from Butterworths. Less mess than the buffing wheel and rouge. I use the medium grit most. A single wheel will do probably 50-100 pivots before needing to be changed depending on how bad the pivots are. I hardly ever need the coarsest wheel.
 

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