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)
This is how scratches were 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 glass shop counters and display cases (even 'watch glasses' providing they are made of glass).
How easy is this to do? Well...it's possible, it's worth a try rather than buying a new shop window or expensive showcase, but it's not necessarily 'easy'. A company specialising in taking scratches out of glass was going to market a D.I.Y. system of mops and polishes but changed their mind. They said, if you are too gentle it simply doesn't work and if you are too enthusiastic the glass gets hot and shatters, which is why they charge a lot of money to come to your shop and polish a scratch out of the glass. So I can't promise you'll do a perfect job, but it's certainly worth a try!
Do you really need a polishing motor, can't you do it by hand? 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. It may have worked if I had kept rubbing for several minutes more -but I didn't have the patience - and the mirror remained scratched.
I took my own watch to a jeweller to get a new 'glass' (it was made of plastic and it was badly scratched) and he took it upstairs to his workshop. Ten minutes later he brought it back and it was almost perfect. He realised that the scratches were too bad for the plastics scratch-remover (see below) and so used standard jewellers rouge, but because the scratches were so deep, he had to use a quite 'hard' polishing mop (rather than the usual soft mop) and he had to use rouge rather than the plastics 'scratch remover'. As a skilled polisher, he knew just how hard-and-long to polish in order to remove the deep scratches without totally destroying the 'glass'. So it is possible to polish bad scratches out of plastic but you have to use a polishing motor (you won't manage it by hand) and you do need considerable skill.
For the novice, polish plastic with scratch remover. This works well on soft plastics such as acrylics. Typical items made of soft plastics are: some 'watch crystals' (though they should be made of a hard plastic), 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 (i.e. whether to use scratch-remover or rouge) 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. My recommendation, for anything expensive (and all lenses) 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; if the item is expensive, you may prefer to suffer the scratches than risk destroying it with over-polishing.
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 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 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 vigorously 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.
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.