Recommendation? Any such thing as a good 6" bench grinder/buffer?

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by RayseM, Nov 23, 2020.

  1. RayseM

    RayseM Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 18, 2010
    I would like to have a two wheel buffer set up for general hobbyist polishing of handles, blades, among others. I well recognize the inherent danger of a spinning rag wheel buffer catching and throwing objects :confused:

    And so I ask:

    1) Is there such a thing as a slow speed buffer? Do they need to be fast to be effective?

    2) Any recommendations for a 6" version or will any generic HF type grinder set up work OK? Will not use as a grinder. Have a slow speed 8" with CBN wheels for my woodworking edge tools. I also have a FOREDOM hand piece with an assortment of tools but the polishing wheels are typically too small for this intended work.

    3) Any recommendations for best brand of buffing wheels ?

    4) Is there a better way to polish? Should I stay away from buffing wheels?

    Thank you very much for any suggestions/comments.
  2. Lee Hester

    Lee Hester

    May 4, 2011
    I can't answer all your questions, but I have Rikon's "slow speed" buffer, which is 1700rpm. At the time it seemed like the cheaper options from Harbor Freight and the like ran at twice that RPM, so I ended up with this one. I think I paid 150 or 160 for it. The tool itself seems like good quality, I suspect the buffs are cheap, but this is the only buffer I've used so I have nothing to compare it to. On one hand it's kind of expensive for what you get, but I couldn't find a cheaper alternative with a similar speed, all the cheap ones seemed way too fast. Here's a link to the one I have. I think for safety's sake, people recommend a slow speed motor and a smaller-diameter wheel to minimize the effective speed of the edge of the wheel when you're using it. I also don't know where to get "good" wheels, but I was planning to grab some wheels from Pop's Knife Supply next time I order, because I trust those guys a lot to only carry good products.
    RayseM likes this.
  3. Wild Bill 1

    Wild Bill 1 Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 7, 2013
    Buffers are run slower than grinders most of the time. Most buffers run at about 1725 RPM. Grinders run at 3450 RPM. Baldor was a very good brand and American made. If your willing to take a chance there are
    import made buffers and grinders . Some people do make very speed in both. Some buffers come with extended shaft that allow more clearance and that is very handy thing. WB
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  4. RayseM

    RayseM Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 18, 2010
    Lee Hester likes this.
  5. RayseM

    RayseM Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 18, 2010
    So far all I can find are 6" buffers spinning at 3450 rpm. The Rikon 8" slow speed is more what I have in mind, at 1750 rpm. Baldour takes me into the stratosphere price wise, no matter the speed. ;)
  6. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs

    Jun 6, 2000
    If you must use a 3600 RPM buffer, use 4" buffs on it. The surface speed will be low.
    I think Grizzly sells a 1750 RPM dedicated buffer.
    000Robert and RayseM like this.
  7. RayseM

    RayseM Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 18, 2010
    I already have an old JET 10" grinder that is rated at 1650 rpm. This is considered slow speed - correct?
    So if I used that as my buffer - using 8" or 6" buffing pads on it will in effect be even slower/safer or will it seem even faster putting a smaller wheel than the 10" capacity? My understanding is that I should go bigger rather than smaller.

    Seems pretty fast. The way I use it now is to turn it on- run to speed, then turn it off and do my buffing - repeat. :confused: You can imagine that that is pretty tedious. :rolleyes:

    I know there is some conversion chart somewhere. Need to research this.
  8. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs

    Jun 6, 2000
    Using smaller diameter buffs decreases the surface speed on the buff.
    Your 1650 grinder is slow enough, but I recommend 6" or 8" wheels, maximum.
  9. FredyCro


    Jan 11, 2019
    Would a 6 inch buffing wheel at 3000 RPM be OK for polishing handles? Medium hardness felt wheel or the sewn up cloth wheel?
  10. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    For polishing handles and wood, use a stitched cotton, linnen, or muslin buff wheel. Charge lightly with matchless white or pink polish.

    You can build a very useful buffer that will do different speeds for a low cost.
    Here is a previous thread where I discussed it.

    Use either three groove 2-3-4 pulley on the motor, or a 3/4HP 3 phase motor and a cheap VFD.
  11. Signalprick

    Signalprick Jason Ritchie - Ritchie Handmade Knives Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 3, 2009
    I've been using my 20 volt Max dewalt drill with a 6" buff wheel on the fastest setting for a year now and I dont feel like I need to run out and upgrade. When I want hands free I throw it in my bench vice and have at it.
  12. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs

    Jun 6, 2000
    Amazing! I have six dedicated buffers in my shop. Maybe I can buy a DeWalt drill and get rid of them.
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  13. oceanrider


    Aug 8, 2020
    Try and find a good used Red Wing two speed lathe. Craigslist, OfferUp, eBay, etc.
  14. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs

    Jun 6, 2000
    There are occasionally used dental lathes like Baldor and Red Wing on Ebay for reasonable prices. Get one with tapered spindles.
    I have 3 of them.
    oceanrider likes this.
  15. RayseM

    RayseM Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 18, 2010
    Wow wow wow :thumbsup: :D I've got some studying and perhaps some building and/or shopping to do.
    Thanks for the tips ALL! Amazing what you realize you don't know when you start thinking about how to do new stuff. I do stuff ALL THE TIME but the buffing thing has been haphazard at best and so starting to think about refining the process. Learning...

    Thank you.
  16. Signalprick

    Signalprick Jason Ritchie - Ritchie Handmade Knives Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 3, 2009
    I know it seems silly but you can't argue with the results. My shop is 9' x 13" and completely full. Broadbeck Ironworks makes a buffer attachment for a 2x72 and when I finally upgrade I'll most likely go that route but again the darn drill with a 6" wheel just keeps getting the job done and it's very versatile.
    @RayseM once I started buffing was when my little hobby really took off and my work started getting noticed. I was in the same boat looking for a slower speed solution without spending big bucks. I found my solution for now. Best of luck finding yours.
    Here are recent examples of different materials all finished out and buffed with a drill and 6" wheel.

    Sawcut bone

    Chechen rosewood

    Jeep/Chrysler fordite

    Paper micartas

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  17. RayseM

    RayseM Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 18, 2010
    Thanks for the encouragement and inspiration Jason, @Signalprick
    Shiny work - looks great. :thumbsup:

    I remembered last night that I used to use a dental buffer. :rolleyes: I worked in a dental lab for a few years just out of high school. I spent hours and hours buffing. Funny how that memory just faded away until this little boost. :)
    Signalprick likes this.
  18. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs

    Jun 6, 2000
    If you hand sand the work fine enough, you can get a mirror polish by hand with Simichrome and a rag.
    Multiple buffers with different grits/wheel types makes things a lot easier.
    My shop is set up to try to replicate finishes on all different brands of factory made cutlery.
  19. J. Hoffman

    J. Hoffman KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 1, 2011
    This was my solution. It works great and usually runs about 70% on a 1750 RPM motor. It's not a cheap solution, but will last.

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  20. i4Marc


    Oct 19, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2020
    RayseM likes this.

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