Buffing Wheel and Compound Selection

What is buffing?

Buffing is just the process of smoothing the minor high and low spots on a surface until it is perfectly smooth. Typically it is done with fabric wheels and abrasive compounds of various types. You progressively move from a very aggressive, to a less aggressive compound, and matching wheel, until you polish your piece to a near mirror finish.

Buffing Basics

To get started you will need a set of compounds and several polishing wheels, plus a motor to mount them to. If you are just starting out and don’t have anything, Eastwood offers Item 1/2 HP Buff Motor, Buff Shop Kit & Buff Stand #13545 for an affordable price that has everything you will need for most polishing jobs. Or order Eastwood Buffing Kit #50341, with smaller 6 inch polishing wheels, compounds and buffs and bobs to mount in your handheld drill for polishing smaller and irregular objects. There are other kits for more specific projects too, and everything is sold separately too.

Eastwood Buffing Kit (50341)

All Eastwood buffing kits include the basics: Spiral and loose sewn polishing wheels, plus Tripoli, gray stainless, white rouge and jeweler’s rouge compounds and more. Start with the more aggressive wheels and compounds for step one, then move to step 2 and the final polish of step 3. NOTE: Condition of the work piece dictates the steps necessary. Some pieces may only require final finishing (Step 3).

Here is a handy reference chart for what wheel and compound to use where:

Buff Wheel & Compound Selection Chart
Materials Hard Metals
Stainless, Iron, Steel
Soft Metals
Brass, Aluminum, Copper, Zinc
Hard Plating
Chrome, Nickel Plate
Solid and Plated Gold or Silver Plastics
Step 1
Rough Compound
Emery on a Sisal Buff Tripoli on a Spiral Buff --------------- --------------- Jewelers Rouge on a Loose Section
Step 2
Intermediate Compound
Stainless on a Spiral Buff --------------- Stainless* on a Spiral Buff --------------- ---------------
Step 3
Final Compound
White Rouge on a Loose Section Buff White Rouge on a Loose Section Buff White Rouge on a Loose Section Buff Jewelers Rouge on a Canton Flannel Buff Jewelers Rouge on a Canton Flannel Buff

*Use caution to prevent buffing through plating.

Buffing Wheel and Motor Selection

For successful buffing, it is important that the motor and buffing wheel you use are matched. If your motor is not powerful enough for the wheel you are using, the motor will not be able to maintain proper speed. If the motor turns too fast, excess heat will build up and the work piece might become permanently discolored. Use the chart above to choose the right motor/wheel combination. Different wheel thicknesses can be achieved by stacking buffs together.


Motor/Wheel Specification Chart
  Maximum Wheel Thickness
Motor Size 4" Dia. 6" Dia. 8" Dia. 10" Dia.
1/2 hp Motor 2 1/2" 2" 1" 1/2"
3/4 hp Motor 3" 2 1/2" 1 1/2" 1"
3/4 hp Motor 3 1/2" 3" 1/2" 2" 1 1/2"
3/4 hp Motor 4" 31/2" 2 1/2" 2"