Our Friends at the Society of American Silversmiths
compiled a list of safer alternatives for a jeweler’s studio. We will continue to update the list as new methods are added.
3M Radial Bristle Discs
Small-but-sturdy “bristle discs” are new abrasive products from 3M. 3M radial bristle discs, in 1-inch diameter, stacked together on a mandrel using a 1/8-inch screw, can tackle tough metal deburring, cleaning, and finishing requirements in the hardest-to-reach places.
Radial bristle discs are designed with abrasive-filled bristles that apply a continuous fresh supply of mineral – without damaging the underlying surfaces. Tough but flexible, these discs conform to the contours of the work piece where intricate designs, tubes or corners make finishing, cleaning and deburring difficult.
They’re also safe for the user, as they eliminate the dangers of flying metal wires posed by wire brushes and also can replace chemical use in some applications. In addition, their unique, patented design resists gumming and loading, so bristle discs work fast on soft or hard metals to produce a consistent, uniform finish. One-inch 3M radial bristle discs are suitable replacements for hand files, wire brushes, hand scrapers, and traditional grinding discs used for sanding, surface preparation, and coatings removal.
The one-inch 3M radial bristle discs are available in four grades: 36, 50, 80, and 120. Additional members of the small 3M radial bristle disc family include a 9/16-inch, as well as 3/4-inch size. These smaller discs fit mandrels with a 1/16-inch screw and are available in finer grades (120, 220, 400, 6 micron and 1 micron) and pumice for finishing and polishing applications. The 3/4-inch size also comes in grade 80. All grades are color-coded for easy identification.
Larger sizes up to 4.5″ are also available. You may find that Scotch-Brite wheels can accomplish the same tasks when using abrasives of these larger diameters.
These discs are worth a try. Most jewelry supply companies now carry a wide array of sizes and grits. Though their lifespan is shorter than traditional bristle wheels, they certainly have many applications including surface preparation for soldering and brazing without the need to remove buffing compounds. They are also excellent for removing corrosion.
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