View Full Version : Polishing/Buffing with a Dremel

July 25, 2008, 02:25 PM
So I'm completely new to the Dremel world. I've been practicing polishing up parts on an old pellet rifle I had that I'm in the works of rebuilding. I've seen a lot of work done with rotary tools that looks amazing, I just haven't quite got the technique down yet. I can't quite buff out all of my polishing marks or get the right shine out of the polish. What am I doing wrong? I know I haven't talked about my technique, and that's because I'd like to know what/how everybody else works their rotary tools? How do you polish up your parts/guns? What attachments do you use?

Any information is greatly appreciated as I was planning on polishing up some of my XD9 parts to accent it, but would like to be proficient with my rotary tool before I go at it. So in advance, thank you for any and all information :)


July 25, 2008, 02:31 PM
Rule #1- never use a Dremel to polish a firearm.

First, using a sanding block, polish with progresively finer abrasives from 100 down to 400 or 600 grit. Make sure the marks from the previous grit has been worked out before going to finer paper.
Second, wet sand with oil and the finest grit paper you worked to. This will give the metal a "glow".
Last, buff lightly to polish to a shine.

July 25, 2008, 02:35 PM
100 grit? Thats pretty thick mah man....Really? I always started at 250

July 25, 2008, 02:35 PM
Exactly ^

Once you've got that glow you can maintain it with Mother's Mag and Aluminum polish.

Dremels are best used for cutting, grinding, etc. I've never found them particularly good for polishing, especially over large surfaces.

July 25, 2008, 02:36 PM
I typically start at 400 and go to 2000.

July 25, 2008, 02:49 PM
I was going to use it to buff/polish parts like my beavertail, trigger, slide lock, etc. Just to give a couple accents to the gun to lighten it up a bit.

But I'd be better off with a sanding block and sand paper then? I have no problem with that. I work at Lowe's, so I get discounts on anything I need anyway :D

I'm still going to practice on my old pellet rifle before I do anything on any of my real guns, but what would you guys recommend the rotary tool for? I don't want the 40-50$ worth of bits I bought to go to waste lol

Also, what should I use to buff it after sanding?

July 25, 2008, 02:51 PM
Also, what should I use to buff it after sanding?

Soft cloth (check auto parts stores for stuff you'd use on a car) and Mother's Mag and Aluminum Polish.

Works great.

July 25, 2008, 02:54 PM
I find myself using my dremel more for household chores than gunsmithing stuff. It is really a very useful tool.

I use mine to de-dimple newer 870's when I pick them up, beyond that I can't think of a gun related problem I've solved with mine. I will say that I've been using the same dremel now for almost 20 years. They hold up well with regular maintenance.

July 25, 2008, 02:56 PM
Okay, no special cloth. I have plenty of shammy clothes and whatnot for my car, I'll just use one of them. I'll pick up some sand paper when I'm at work today. So maybe something like...

200, 400, 600, 800? And then go back with the 800 and some gun oil? Buff it out with polish and a soft cloth?

Also, what about internal parts? Would the rotary tool come in handy there? Or would you still go with the sand paper method?

July 25, 2008, 04:03 PM
Also, what about internal parts? Would the rotary tool come in handy there?

Wouldn't touch them. A little oil or solvent when needed. Stay away from polishing those unless absolutely necessary (ie polishing a feedramp on a semi that won't feed reliably, in which case a dremel actually works).

July 25, 2008, 04:09 PM
Alright, I'll have to pick up some sand paper when I'm at work today then lol Thank you all for the information and I'll be sure to put it to good use :D My pellet rifle is going to be looking amazing before I even touch any of my guns lol Thanks again!


July 25, 2008, 06:52 PM
The Dremel polishing tips are simply too small for really good polishing, especially on larger parts.
The smaller diameter polishing heads leave ripples that larger polishing tools don't.

As example, Colt used to do the best factory gun bluing in the market.
They made their own leather covered, wooden polishing wheels.
These were several feet in diameter.
These allowed polishing of flat surfaces without leaving the ripples smaller polishing tools leave.

Even jewelers don't do final polishing with small polishing tools, we use larger buffing wheels on big electric motor polishing equipment.
The buffs may be layers of muslin or solid felt, and are "usually" around 6 inches in diameter or larger.

Bottom line, it's just not possible to get a really fine polish with a Dremel size rotary tool.

gunney 67
July 25, 2008, 10:25 PM
I've had pretty good luck on all steels using flitz metal polish and a chunk of cotton t-shirt. It will remove light surface rust also without damaging the bluing underneath.

July 26, 2008, 02:02 AM
I don't know why I didn't think of the small parts doing a small area...I'm an auto tech and used to buff all kinds of parts. Common sense just didn't kick in in time this time lol Thanks all for the information and I'll let you guys know how it goes when I get down to business :D

July 27, 2008, 12:28 PM
I also wouldn't use a Dremel for polishing large, flat areas. However, the cylindrical, white felt polishing wheels (1/2" or so in diameter?) that attach to a mandrel with a screw work great, when combined with a little Simichrome, for polishing small parts and feed ramps. Use the Dremel's lowest speed, and you'd have to be pretty determined and patient, in order to "overpolish" to the point that angles were changed, etc.

I always polish all mating surfaces in the firing mechanisms of my Glocks. Never screwed one up yet.

July 29, 2008, 10:00 AM
I just worked over the trigger parts and meeting section on the bolt for my Turk Mouser. It had a terrible trigger pull but a good cleaning and polishing all the meeting surfaces made a world of difference, and the dremil is just the ticket to do those 1/8 to 1/2 square in. areas. I agree that a 5-6 in. wheel on a big motor is the best for large areas but some times you need smaller wheels like 1/2 in. to get to those tight spots and still see what you are doing, besides my wife wont let me bring the big gear from my shop into the house. I used the rubberized grinding wheel first then a buffing wheel with the polishing compound that came with the rotary tool kit. You have to be carfull working on thouse triger parts, you can go from bad to good to no-good no-more in a very shot time. :eek:

July 29, 2008, 06:57 PM
I spent many years building platic injection molds .I know a bit about polishing.
For all but the final finishing,I use polishing stones. not mounted whells,but sticks that are stroked like a file.They are available from MSC.Maybe Brownells.While there are many grades and varieties,they break down to conform to a surface and stay free cutting.
You are trying to cut off the high spots without deepening the low spots.Soft materials,like felt,dont do this well.
Once the flaws are removed with stones or laps,A tampico brush and diamond compound is used to blend out a 600 stone finish.That may be followed by hard felt,and diamond lap.with fuel oil.
Shiny,smooth plastic parts come out of smooth molds.
Oh,hard wood can be used with fine clover compound or pointed with a liquid grit available through Brownells.

July 30, 2008, 01:55 PM
One more thing

A dremel is a good,usefull tool,I am not knocking it,But I agree that generally,keep it away from your guns.

A pro gunsmith,who knows exactly what they are doing,doesn't need my advice.If you just bought your first Dremel,it can be the equivalent of a kid with his first hatchet(No disrespect intended)

On the general topic of polishing and smoothing,Think of funtion as a higher priority than cosmetics.Shiny doesn't help.
Think in terms of knocking off high spots .You don't want teeth sticking up.
But dont take off significant material.Don't change shape or dimensions.
And don't worry about taking out the low spots.
For example,some times a war finish hand gun or rifle will have deep,ugly cutter marks.You might cut off .007 or .010 to remove them,and have a rattly gun.Just float the high spots with a flat,hard stone.Let the low spots be a trap for grit and lube.
On parts that slide over each other,do not have your grit lines flowing in the same direction.They can tend to mesh,increasing the chances of galling.

August 21, 2008, 02:57 PM
More firearms have been ruined by "Backyard" gunmithing and a Dremel than all the rust in the world.
The only thing a Dremel is used for in my shop is FINAL rouge polish of a feed ramp/throat.

One trick to hand polishing metal;
With each finer grit change of paper, polish to right angles of the prior grit. This makes it very easy to ensure that you have removed ALL of the grit marks from the coarser grit.
If you are properly backing up your paper with an appropriate block you will not round crisp corners.

Nothing like hand polishing a pistol with 800 grit and blueing it only to discover that you missed some 220 grit sand scratch's:mad:

Going at right angles will prevent this.
Just make sure your last grit is done nice and straight, and going in one direction only.

Critical surfaces are stone polished only- Sears and such.

August 29, 2008, 09:03 PM
to deburr a few sharp edges on my Ruger GP-100 and polish the front of the trigger. Turned out just fine. Now to polish any large surface I would be very hesitant. Good luck :cool:

August 30, 2008, 09:46 AM
I sold my Dremel off in 1976 and have never looked back.

I have papers and files and time......

August 30, 2008, 07:10 PM
Well I guess, I'm in the minority, I have used my dremel and flitz to polish a number of internal parts with out any problems. But I am careful when I do this.
My sigma trigger improved 300% after some dremel work, not to mention a number of Mosins and enfields that went from horrible to good triggers. Now I have pistols that I don't touch. but I think with care and patience a dremel can be used without problems.

I am not a smith, nor did I stay at a holiday inn last night ;-)


September 25, 2008, 11:32 PM
Go to Midway (or E-Bay ) and check out Cratex products. They are grit inpregnated rubber mandrels for Dremel tools and there are 4 grits from coarse to extra fine and work great.

September 26, 2008, 10:01 AM
The craytex works pretty well, then finish up with the cloth or felt polishing wheels. They'll work fine and with a lot of patience, will even work on larger surfaces. It's not so much the buffing that creates the irregular surfaces as it is the prior sanding; get that right and you can buff out large surfaces with small tools with nobody the wiser.