What is a Muslin Buffing Wheel?
Empire Abrasives conventional muslin buffs are made of premium muslin cotton. Each variation, spiral sewn and loose cotton, can be used at different stages of the buffing and polishing process. They are built with layers of round cotton sheets, with a center ring that can be attached to different buffing machines and tools.
From the small 4” buffing wheels to the larger 10” buffs, these are all meant for use with a bench grinder, bench polisher, lathe, or buffer. They can also be affixed to a drill with the appropriate mandrel attached.
What is Muslin Cotton?
Muslin cotton is a lightweight woven cotton fabric. It is used for buffing different surfaces because it is soft and pliable with an open weave design that makes it breathable to avoid overheating when polishing with high-speed tools.
Loose vs Spiral Sewn Buffing Wheels
Spiral sewn buffing wheels have evenly spaced stitching sewing the cotton flaps together out from the center of the wheel. This makes these buffs much denser and capable of heavier buffing action and allows the user to exert more pressure against the surface benign buffed and polished. Because of the extra rigidity of these particular discs, they are best used in the earlier to mid-stages of polishing for cutting and some color buffing.
Recommended buffing compounds for spiral sewn buffs -
- Black Emery Buffing Compound
- Brown Tripoli Buffing Compound
*To decrease the stiffness of spiral buffing wheels, you can cut and remove the outermost ring(s) of stitching until you have your desired firmness.
Loose cotton buffing wheels are exactly what the name says. The discs of muslin cotton are loosely arranged one on top of the other without the stitching that makes the spiral sewn alternative stiffer. The only stitching these buffing discs have is around the center ring to hold the wheel together. The loose design allows these buffing wheels to fan out more when buffing which covers a larger area and is also a much gentler buffing tool that is best suited for late-stage cut buffing, color buffing, and finishing metal to a mirror shine.
Recommended buffing compounds for loose cotton buffs -
- White Buffing Compound
- Blue Rouge Buffing Compound
- Pink Rouge Buffing Compound
What Does Ply Mean?
The ply number is the number of sheets used to make the buffing discs. 20 ply buffing wheels have 20 individual cotton sheets that make up the disc, whereas 40-ply has 40 sheets and 60-ply has 60 sheets of cotton discs.
Muslin buffs with lower ply counts are thinner and great for smaller jobs and for getting into tight areas. Higher ply buffing wheels can cover more area and get big jobs buffed out much faster. When using a high-ply loose cotton buff, the sheets also fan out much wider so you can cover a larger surface and also hit different parts of irregular surface shape.
Sisal vs Muslin Buffs
When looking at sisal buffing wheels and spiral sewn muslin buffing wheels from above, they may look very similar. While the spiral sewn cotton buffs are made up of soft cotton sheets, the sisal buffs are made up of rougher cellular fibers, similar to those used in binders’ twine. Sisal buffing wheels are much more rigid and coarser, making them a better option for early cut buffing and for polishing harder metals.
What's the Difference Between Color and Cutting?
Mentioned above are the two main stages of buffing and polishing metals: cut buffing and color buffing/finishing. Cut buffing is the first step in buffing a surface after it has been sanded down with the finest grit abrasives. This stage will flatten the surface and remove the scratches caused by the sanding process.
The last step is finishing or color buffing. Color buffing uses softer buffing tools and less abrasive polish or buffing compounds to remove the fine polishing lines created in the cut buffing process. This is the stage where you really start to see your metal shine and can get a mirror finish.