UNT College of Visual Arts & Design – Metals: File Sand Polish

UNT College of Visual Arts & Design – Metals: File Sand Polish


Hello and welcome to the University of North
Texas’ Metalsmithing & Jewelry program video series. In this short video, we will show you how
to correctly file, sand, and polish metal. In the previous video, we demonstrated sawing
out this piece. After sawing, the next step is refining the
edges by filing. The amount of filing needed depends on how
accurately the design was sawn out. Files come in a wide variety of shapes and
sizes. This illustration shows the names of the most
common types. Select the appropriate file for the size and
shape of your piece. Every file has angled teeth and are numbered
by size, just like sawblades. Be sure your file is clean. If your file has metal lodged in it, it can
unevenly file your piece. Use a file brush to remove any metal remaining
from previous use. If any metal is stubbornly pinned in the file,
you can use a scrap piece of brass to push it out. When filing, always have your piece securely
held, either on your bench pin or in a ring clamp. Because of the angled teeth, always push the
file away from you. At the end of each stroke, lift the file,
return to starting position, and push again. Do not drag the file back and forth—that
only damages the file. To refine your design, use a smaller finer
toothed needle file. If the edge of metal needs to be rounded (for
safety or comfort), use the file to consistently radius the edge. Good craftsmanship requires a well-controlled
finish to all surfaces, even the sides. Polishing is simply the incremental process
of removing bigger scratches in the metal until the surface appears smooth. Sanding and polishing tools come in a wide
range of grits to accomplish that. Numbered sandpaper refers to the size of grit
and amount per square inch: larger numbers equal finer grit. As you move through finer and finer grits
of sandpaper, sanding at a slightly different direction can help show when you have completely
removed the deeper scratches from previous grit. Using sanding sticks can help refine edges
or hard-to-reach areas. These sticks are color-coded based on their
grit. Or you can easily make your own. If the piece is to be polished after sanding,
it should be sanded to at least 400 grit. Polishing can be intimidating, both because
of all the different tools and compounds available but also because it is a very difficult skill
that takes extensive practice to do well. Polishing is typically done either with a
larger polishing machine or a flex shaft machine with smaller hand-held tools. As with sanding, polishing is done by progressing
from coarser to finer. With any rotary equipment, be sure that you
are wearing eye protection, have any long hair tied back, and are not wearing any dangling
clothing or jewelry. If using polishing compounds, start with Bobbing
compound, typically the most abrasive compound. Choose the appropriate buff for your piece—felt
buffs are used for maintaining crisp edges, stitched buffs are good for general use. Be sure to always use the corresponding buffs
to the corresponding compounds—don’t ever mix them up! Allow the machine to come up to speed and
lightly charge the buff with compound. Always contact the buff in the front lower
quadrant with your work facing down. Never point your piece into the buff and never,
ever try to polish a chain! After charging the buff, lightly push your
piece into the buff, gently removing the previous scratches from sanding. Keep in mind the metal can heat up from the
friction so be careful and cool the piece as needed. Depending on the final finish desired, repeat
this process using White Diamond, a finer abrasive compound, and then, if desired… A colored rouge, corresponding with the metal
being polished. Rouge burnishes, or smooths, the surface,
as opposed to removing any metal. And that completes our basic introduction
to filing, sanding, and polishing metal. We hope this short video helps make your experiences
safe and productive!

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