POLISHING METALS (INCLUDING JEWELLERY), GLASS, PLASTICS

How to polish metals; how to remove scratches from glass (including windscreens and shop counters)

scratch remover for plastics (including soft plastics such as acrylic and plastic watch crystals)

 

At the bottom of this page is a list of related articles

 

Contents:

Removing scratches in glass and plastics

Using jewellers rouge to polish gold

Professional and specialist polishes

 

Products:

Polishing cloths and Polishing mops and polishing sticks

Polishes and cleaning fluids

Ultrasonic cleaners, domestic or Ultrasonic cleaner professional

 

This is how scratches are removed in a windscreen factory. Use a polishing motor on its slowest speed.  Use a large cotton mop.  While the mop is spinning apply by holding the block of rouge against it. The rouge is very soft, it will come off easily, there is no need to mix it with anything. If the scratch is deep enough to feel with your fingernail it is too deep to remove by polishing.  I assume that if this method works on glass car windscreens it will also work on ordinary windows and on shop counters and on glass watch 'crystals' (it won't have any effect at all on sapphire 'crystals').

I tried to remove a myriad of fine scratches from a car mirror without a polishing motor.  After 6 or 7mns of very hard rubbing with a soft cloth (having heavily smeared it with rouge) I came to the conclusion that it wasn't making the slightest difference and I gave up.  That is not to say it might not have worked if I had kept rubbing for several minutes more…but I don't have the patience…and the mirror remains scratched.

For acrylics and other very soft plastics try scratch remover. This works well on soft plastics such as acrylics. Typical items made of soft plastics are: many 'watch crystals', most display stands, simple handheld magnifying lenses, some very cheap reading spectacles and sunglasses. Scratch remover will not work on hard plastics such as polycarbonate (or any lens described as 'scratch-resistant').

There are many hundreds of different types of plastic, if you don't know if your plastic is 'soft' or 'hard', try it and see. If the plastic is too hard, the scratch remover will have no effect. If the plastic is very soft, it will probably work. But do take care. Do not risk damaging expensive items, especially lenses. The basic rule is: if you have a choice between throwing the item away or trying to remove the scratches, then try the scratch remover, you've nothing to lose, otherwise don't risk it, especially with lenses (you could remove coatings).

To use, mix scratch remover with water to form a paste the consistency of double cream, apply with a small felt mop on a miniature polishing motor, go carefully - you are only polishing a scratch not drilling for oil.  This is the powder used in the aircraft industry for polishing the acrylic canopies of aircraft. As with the rouge, it will only work on fine scratches.

For cleaning jewellery (gold and silver) IN A WORKSHOP:
- use a soft cotton mop on a polishing motor (e.g. 6 inch mop), as it's spinning press the stick of rouge against it until the mop turns red, then press the jewellery against the mop. Any crevices, especially the backs of stones, will become dark red from the rouge. This is normal. Wash out in an ultra sonic cleaner and dry by throwing it into a big bowl of hot sawdust (e.g. an enamel bowl full of sawdust on a gas or electric heating ring).

For cleaning jewellery (gold and silver) IN THE HOME:
- smear the rouge (rouge block or rouge powder or rouge liquid) onto a cotton cloth, then polish using a gold polishing cloth. For the inside of a ring use several strands of linen thread, tie one end to an immovable object, smear with rouge, slide the strands inside the ring, pull taught, rub the ring up and down. Any crevices, especially the backs of stones, will become dark red from the rouge. This is normal. Wash the item in hot soapy water, cleaning the backs of the stones with a soft toothbrush (or use an ultrasonic cleaner suitable for home use), then leave to dry on tissue, give it final shine with a gold polishing cloth.

For cleaning jewellery (any soft metal...not steel or chrome), ALTERNATIVE METHOD:
- use polishing sticks, starting with a coarse grade to remove bad scratches (you should do this anyway, before you start polishing with a polishing compound), then work your way through the grades to the finest, then vigorous rub with a gold polishing cloth. This is good for flat items (since the polishing sticks won't get into fine spaces); this good as a 'quick-fix' for removing the stains caused by testing acids (you are not aiming to polish the item 'as new', merely to remove a stain); polishing sticks will not give the brilliant jewellers-rouge shine.

To remove tarnish (blackening) from silver there is a special chemical, and we have a silver cleaning cloth that is impregnated with this chemical.

We also sell a selection of 'professional polishing compounds. I call them 'professional' for two reasons.

Firstly, they are extensively used in workshops ('polishing shops') in the jewellery trade.

Secondly, by saying they are for 'professional' use I assume the user has a polishing motor and a selection of polishing mops and experience of polishing; or maybe wants a wider choice of polishes; or wants to try these out to see if they are better than what he uses already. They are water-based and are therefore 'clean' unlike jewellers rouge which stains everything red and has to be continuously washed off.

The polishers (people) who use these have probably had a three year apprenticeship to learn polishing jewellery, so it really is difficult when we get calls saying, "I've bought your professional Luxi polishes, what do I do next?" - that's a bit like buying a set of spanners then asking, "I've go the spanners, now how do I repair my car?". However, if you are the type of person who can work out how to repair a car, polishing jewellery should (in terms of engineering skills) be easy! Though don't expect to end up with the item looking absolutely like new, that really does take time to learn. Tips: keep a buff for each compound, don't mix them, work from the top of this list to the bottom (GREY for the hardest / most badly scratches items down to RED for the final polish); or for an all-purpose option, go for ASIAN RED.

For the sake of comparing the grades, jewellers rouge is somewhere between the 'red' and 'blue' grades below.

GREY, £5.00 per block. ref.luxi-gr
Extra coarse grade for badly scratched hard metals (including steel) but not for soft metals (including gold, silver and copper). It is also good for polishing badly scratched platinum a notoriously difficult metal to work with. But don't use this for general work, this is for rough castings and badly corroded antiques.

YELLOW, £6.50 ref.luxi-yel
A coarse grade scratch-remover for 'hard' metals such as copper alloys of brass and bronze. Also good for the final polish on platinum.

BLUE, £5.50 ref. luxi-blu
Medium grade, will remove scratches on gold and silver and is good for the final polish on harder metals; will also remove fine scratches in glass (a clean alternative to rouge).

RED, £9.50 ref.luxi-red
Similar to rouge, for the final polish on gold and silver. Should also remove very fine scuffs (though not scratches) in glass. If you have jewellery that really is perfectly clean and shiny, but just hasn't got that 'as new' look, then use this one.

ASIAN-RED: £9.50 ref. asian-red
An economical 'general purpose' polish, exported to workshops in Asian where speed is more important than perfection (it's not usually for sale in the UK). Good for the busy antiques dealer who wants just wants to make the items 'saleable' and isn't aiming to make them 'like new'…and who really doesn't want to spend money on all the different grades.
If you want a 'general' polish without having to bother with any of the other grades, go for this one.

RELATED ARTICLES

How to polish jewellery

How to remove tarnish from silver without using polish

Ultrasonic cleaning

Styles (types) of jewellers pliers and cutters

 

See also: all articles on this website or latest articles on this website

 

 

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