Thursday, February 3, 2011

How to make a denim buffing wheel for your Dremel

Please note that I have a battery operated dremel. I have not tried this tutorial on a plug in dremel, which is more powerful and could cause your demin to wear out more quickly. 

I got my first Dremel this Christmas - whoopie!!! I was so excited. Finally I would be able to buff up my polymer creations to a fabulous shine. The problem, I soon discovered, is that the polishing wheels that come with the Dremel are just too rough to be used on polymer clay. 


After doing some trawling of the Internet I discovered Desiree McCrorey's wonderful website - Desired Creations. This site has loads of good stuff on working with polymer clay INCLUDING how to make a better dremel buffing wheel. The tutorials provided suggest you make your wheel out of polyester felt, aged denim or satin cotton sheets. Now I didn't have any felt or satin sheets but I did have some denim. I tried the second tutorial using denim squares, but if you take a look at the picture at the end of the tutorial you can see that really didn't work! 


The first tutorial entails stitching together a block of discs, but as I only had demin, I didn't fancy hand sewing through 6 denim circles. So taking tips from the tutorials on Desiree's site, here is my version of creating a demin buffing wheel for your Dremel.

  • Cut about 6 circles from your old denim, no bigger than 1.5 inches. I found yet another use for Kato liquid clay - the smaller bottle is just about the size of circle you need!



  • Mark the centre of each circle with a dot. You can use this disc/accessory if you have one, to help you find and mark your centre.

  • Use a single paper punch to punch a small hole in the centre of the circle. As the demin is old and worn, this should be easy to do. Pull the dot marking your centre into the correct place for punching if necessary. If the denim is too stiff for punching you could try using a piercing tool. 



  • You will need this attachment now - I have no idea what it is called!

  • Unscrew the screw, pop on all your denim circles and tighten. Here is your new buffing wheel :)




  • Below is the wheel in spin mode! On using it, I found that a fair few fibres fly off so wear goggles (and a dust mask if you prefer) and use away from your clay area.

  • Admittedly it is a bit messy, but take a look at the beads below. The one on the left is hand buffed with denim and the one on the right has been buffed by the denim wheel for about 30 seconds. I think it is worth a bit of mess - what do you think?



Here is my less successful first attemp using Denim and the second tutorial on Desiree's site! The denim is just far too thick for this design. I have put this pic at the end so that people don't think I am suggesting making this wheel!!




5 comments:

  1. This has got to be worth a try. I find the cotton buffs from Hobby Tools are great on polymer clay too - http://www.hobbytools-direct.com/acatalog/Polishing_Buffs___Wheels.html. I used them a lot before I got my big polishing wheel. I think you can get them from Hobbycraft.

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  2. Hiya - I tried your method after getting myself a dremel for buffing purposes, but it seems the denim is still to hard and it cuts into the clay even at the slowest setting.
    Any advise?

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  3. Hi Arihoma. Wow, I'm shocked - I've not heard of this before. My first question would be what clay are you using? I use Premo and Kato and this method works great with them. Maybe your clay is softer. Secondly, what type of demin are you using?? What I mean is, is it older/aged. New demin could be too tough for this method and as I've always used an old pair of jeans I've not had this problem. Also, a lot of newer ladies jeans are "stretch" so may have a lycra or some other elastic in them which may affect the clay. Lastly, are you sanding your pieces before you buff? Buffing only works well if you have sanded your polyclay pieces well before buffing, gradually working up the grits (start at 600 and wet sand working through to 1200 or higher). Let me know, Flo

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  4. Ok so what I.am reading is that to get my polymer pieces to shine I need to hand sand and then buff each piece separately.....OMG. I will be spending days getting them done....surely this is not done this way....WOW

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  5. I used your idea on a frame handled bowie knife. I mangaged to scratch the S guard during assembly and could not get in there with a normal buff. I used a air die grinder wich is quite powerfull. Worked lik a charm with green buffing compound an about ten layers of denim. Ok the denim does'nt last beond one job and everything is full of fluff.Wear a face mask.

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