Finishing with Flexible Shaft Tools

Finishing Radial Discs

To me, the final finishing is the second most important step in my overall process. Building the piece is number one—building includes the preliminary sanding to a desired finish.

You can only final finish something as well as you preliminarily finished it. In other words, you can’t put a mirror shine on a cracked or non-smooth surface.

So these final finishing ideas only work if you’ve done your prelim sanding and finishing before the firing step.

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First, I use a brass brush disc. I have this on one Flexible Shaft (an old inherited one), because I use it on everything. Always wear eye protection if you use this, as the little brass hairs fly off all the time.

Then on my other flexible shaft, I will put on the disc that is needed. This flexible shaft has a change of directions. 


I must to wear opticals because my eyes don’t work as they used to. So, my eyes are always protected, as should yours be. I wear glasses that have a seal around my eyes. I think they are called Curve, typically used as sunglasses on sporty types. I had a lense a little stronger than I close-up prescription put in them. 


Another important safety step is to strap on an N95 mask. I order them by the box. It amazes me how grey the outside of the mask is after only one month. To think that stuff would otherwise be in my lungs has me lovin' N95s. It has to be N95s. The typical kind of masks you seen in China on a high-polution day does nothing. They do not catch the tiny particles. If I recall right, N95s are good again tuberculosis, too.

Here are clean masks.

Here is my mask after one month.

N95 Dirty

If I have a surface that I want flat and shiny, I use AdvantEdge Silicone Polishing Discs. I choose the flexible shaft direction whereby the particles coming off are spun to my work surface, not into my face (regardless of all my protection).

After using these a while, you find your favorite shapes and know when use which shaft for which surfaces. I seldom use white. I typically use black, blue, and pink. That’s some technical language, huh?

T&T Rio's Silicone Polishing Discs

From RioGrande’s online catalog

See at bottom of page, too.

If I have a texture that I want to have character, here’s what I do. I patina it heavily. Then, I use 3M Radial Bristle Discs in the order in the photo below.  Here are 3M’s instructions for these Radial Bristle Discs. See at bottom of page, too.

I choose the flexible shaft direction whereby the disc prongs do not go backwards, against the surface. They go with the grain or nap; like when you pet your dog, you don’t go again his ruff.

Depending on how rustic or finished I want the piece, I may skip discs. If you use all four, the piece is finely finished. Sometimes I use just the rust colored one.

RioGrande has a good teaching video on these discs.


That’s is for now. Good luck!

Added September 2014--Metal Clay Supply now has polishing and finishing materials.

For online courses in metal clay, go to I Love Silver, where you learn how to design and create your own silver creations.

© Kris A Kramer 2019