I was talking about sanding mops and other things and only referenced that I’d polished things with it.
On all these pieces my finishing regime is the same:
1. Sanded to 320 grit. I don’t have anything finer that I care to use on a piece that’s going to be polished, and I’ve found that 320 grit seems to be perfect for getting a smooth finish. (Side note: I’ve polished some unsanded surfaces. It doesn’t smooth them, but it will polish the high spots. )
2. A thin coat of #2 Shellac (usually Zimmer’s sealing shellac that I buy by the gallon) usually applied with an old acid brush that stays in the jar all the time. The shellac is to seal the wood and fill the grain (just a little.)
If it is a turned piece I slow the lathe down and just dip and apply the shellac. If it’s a flat piece it sets on the assembly table and get’s brushed on.
3. Shellac is immediately wiped off with whatever rag is handy and doesn’t have oil on it (red rags for oily mechanical things, all other colors for woodworking.) This is critical because I don’t want any finish on the surface. The idea is to polish the wood, not the shellac.
If it’s on the lathe I start at slow speed to get the wet stuff off and then speed it up to rub the shellac till the surface gets hot to drive the alcohol out.
To the the Bealle system Robin!!!
4. First is the orange compound (first wheel). I run the piece against the wheel always wiping the finish off. I look for a gumming or balling along the exit line of the wheel from the piece, that’s a sign the wheel is pulling shellac off the surface. You can also tell a difference in appearance on the wood between polished shellac and polished wood. I stay on the first wheel until the finish is as smooth as I want. It’s a matter of subjective preference and how different species of wood react to the polishing process. If you have an open grain wood that isn’t sealed enough the orange compound may impart a slight color to the wood, hence the coat of shellac first.
5. White diamond compound (second wheel). The second stage is where the real shine and gloss appear. And usually takes less time than the first stage. Mirror smooth and bright is possible, again depending on the wood used. A dust mask and good ventilation is really a must here as the compound is considered an irritant. It will also put a whitish dust into small cracks and open grain, but can be blown out, or may disappear when the wax goes on.
6. Carnauba wax (third wheel). One of the hardest waxes on the planet. Food safe. Doesn’t take much. Doesn’t make a very noticeable change in the appearance of the piece, but it does feel smoother and silky compared to the white diamond stage.
Here are some pieces that turned out nicely.
Remember, except for the thin coat of wax this is the wood itself, not a finish, that is shining.
A neck massager in cedar:
“Drooped edge” bowl
Small blond dresser bowl
Shallow wide-rimmed bowl
Crotch bowl in firewood
Gavel and striker
Knitting hook handles
-- Pete, "It isn't broken, you just aren't using it right."