Picture of CD Polisher
Show Disk.JPG
You must remember this
A nick is just a nick, a scratch is just a scratch
The fundamental things apply
As CD's die
(forgive me Warner Bros)

So you went to the local library & got a DVD movie to watch with your honey. Guess what? It won't play!
That little tramp who returned it yesterday carried it in her purse for three days with no jewel case!

Run it through this CD Polisher for five minutes & it will play like new.

I store my data archives on DVD-RW. If one bit is misread, the whole file is trash. A data disk must be exactly written & verified.

This machine can be used to repair disks that have become unreadable. There is a very good chance that the files can be recovered.

When putting together the parts for this project, use my mantra 'Goodwill, Goodwill'. If you shop well (or have a big stash of parts) the machine will cost under twenty dollars to build.

Before we start, let me apologize for my lack of describing how to accomplish each and every step. I am assuming that a project meister who chooses to build this machine can infer much info from the pictures.

It's my dad's fault. He taught me by doing, not by lecturing.

So, in memory of my father, I will not give a list of tools, materials, or skills needed to complete this project.

Thanks dad

Well, if you see that the machine actually runs, you might get to step 3. Or 4. 5 is a good one, too.

Here's a video of the thing in action:
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pmk2221 year ago

i remember i had a game disk that had some VERY bad scratches (from around 8 years of being face up on my sisters floor) and i used a cotton ball and toothpaste to fix the disk it took a very long time but those scratches were much better, not gone. using toothpaste to start with (if there are bad scratches) might work well with this system just make sure you clean well when done

Gabse2 years ago
The microwave motor also can be used as a taser. :-)
This is indeed a great idea for retrieving those CDs & DVDs.

I suppose if a fibre optic polishing paper would be of a great help here. I have not got an opportunity to try it on CDs but feel confident it would work on them.
mh76dk3 years ago
This could be used to rewinding those rental dvds before returning them. no more fees!
espit mh76dk3 years ago
huh?? Are you thinking of VHS tapes?. Geez I feel old
its ok im only 16 and i knew tht he was refering to VHS tapes.
Brad I.3 years ago
This looks like a great project. Well done. I can think of another use I'd like your opinion on. How about polishing iPhone screens where the gorilla glass has become scratched?
wotboa (author)  Brad I.3 years ago
Hiya Brad I.
Corning Gorilla Glass is......glass. (alkali-aluminosilicate)
My machine polishes polycarbonate plastic.
You're on your own, my friend.
erichans3 years ago
Thanks wotboa!!

Well explained IMHO, in spite of your being so deprecating. And something I need badly as I lost lots of valuable invaluable stuff.

While I have a pwm unit I made for something else, I won't use this. I have instead 2 other ways out. One, a 1 Amp mains transformer with with 3 to 12V taps every 3 Volts. If this has insufficient power for the motor I get hold of, then I have a 12V, 4A mains transformer which I can use with series hi-wattage resistors (I have a boxful!!) to give me a couple of 'acceptable' speeds. Inefficient, sure, but OK for a once-in a-way thing.

Thanks for kicking this lazy bum!!

wotboa (author)  erichans3 years ago
Hi Erich
I like the visual of your kitchen table covered with a half dozen live wires. We've all done that, yes?
Build one of these machines. Post it. Help unlock the mystery of disk repair. The more versions that are built and used, the stronger the solution.
My machine works just fine. Let's see how other builders might do it.
PS pardon my sarcastic and cynical humor. It may be construed as deprecating.
kdlan3 years ago
If you decide to do an Instructables on just this step alone, that would be well worth reading! Unless you know of some other useless reference for an aspiring maker to learn more about powering and controlling motors.
mrwild83 years ago
Get a Skip Dr.!
The motorized version will polish it/sand it smooth. There's enough layers of plastic there above the data layer to buff it up well and get rid of those scratches that bend the laser and cause the issues. Any filler compound wil do just that - FILL IN the marks. It doesn't clear it up.

The product just works!
wotboa (author)  mrwild83 years ago
I never researched the polishing compound until after I published this project. Should have done it, I guess, but my results are always positive. If it works, etc.
The Meguiars 10 that I use is based on Micro Abrasive Technology. It does cut the disk surface and removes shallow scratches. The finished disk does not have a mirror finish, but my repaired disks seem to show that the polish lines are so fine they do not affect the disk performance. Perhaps the next step would be to use Meguiars 17 to bring the surface up to a mirror finish. Or not.
PS I don't work for Meguiars

I checked out the Skip Dr before I settled on my design. If I had a machine shop, I could make a Skip Dr.

Instructables celebrates the tinkers of the world. I am one. My machine uses no fancy BS. It runs well. It does the job it was designed to do. Any project meister with a work bench and a few hand tools can build one, like I did.

Imagine that.

Please consider this: True hobbyists do not buy something that they can build themselves. Quod erat demonstrandum.
Mouserz3 years ago
Does it rewind it though? I always have trouble rewinding my CDs.
wotboa (author)  Mouserz3 years ago
Take your unwound CDs to the local loonie bin.
They will help you.
Mouserz wotboa3 years ago
i tried but they said that they didn't have a rewinder either.
wotboa (author)  Mouserz3 years ago
Let me rephrase that...They will help YOU.
Great idea plus getting the stuff cheap at Goodwill is always a win-win! I may have to break down to put this together!
zappenfusen3 years ago
Best Instructable I've ever read. I've often pondered "Perpendicular" as reasonable myself while giving advice as a pro. I often think Instructables itself is basically Full of Dung but it's the folks' not instructable's!

Thanks Guy's,
wotboa (author)  zappenfusen3 years ago
Hiya zappenfusen
I agree that instructables has wandered away from Eric's dream. But...we must bow to the masses.
Myself? I'm an old frustrated engineer and a technician. I have many things I can share.
This is my first step-by-step post, and it is truly going the way of the stars.
I am overwhelmed. In my tiny world, I would call it viral.
Thank you for speaking your mind.
I've spent years polishing destroyed discs' the Perpendicular way. I have no idea where I picked it up but, I too, state as fact any other motion worsens the condition. Your explanation is the best I've read, but then again, we could both be full of shit. Enjoyed the read.

Zombie_BBQ3 years ago
Very Nice I Am Making One Of These ,Thank You For The Instructable.
lumpee3 years ago
Great idea and execution. I don't mean to be over-critical,but you can't divide anything into 6 quadrants,only four. Sorry.
wotboa (author)  lumpee3 years ago
Jeez,you're right. Too many Star Trek reruns, I guess.
So now the question is...what is the proper word for dividing a circle into six sections?
lumpee wotboa3 years ago
A sixth of a circle is a sextant. Not to be confused with the astronomer's or mariners navigation tool. A sextant in a circle is 60 degrees.
wotboa (author)  lumpee3 years ago
I was hoping for more of a pie (not pi) slicing reference, but your answer is accurate.
More useless information I will never use.
lumpee wotboa3 years ago
By the way,great project.I'm going to see if I can make one using a barbeque rotisserie motor I have. I've used one in the past for a turntable that I used for spray painting some small woodworking projects I made. As for buffing compound,I'm going to use ordinary toothpaste. My neighbor and I polished her car headlight lenses with it and it worked extremely well. Two minutes per lens and they are crystal clear.Looking forward to seeing more of your ideas. Thanks.
wotboa (author)  lumpee3 years ago
Hi again lumpee
A rotisserie motor should work great! I would love to see your final build. Please post it.
I've tried a few different compounds for the buff. Once I started using the polycarbonate polish I stopped looking for something better.
Toothpaste makes a horrible mess. You must keep it so wet that the froth goes everywhere.
Car waxes, in general, are not compatible with plastics. Many are hydrocarbon based. Cleaning the disk after is a project in itself.
Rouges are just a pain in the ass to apply to the buff and to get off the disk after polishing.
With Meguiar's, a thin film on the disk will last for several minutes during an intense polish session. The disk cleans up easily with a little Windex.
I hate to say this, but, trust me (some of you know what that means in New York), start with plastic polish then go on to experiment with other compounds.
lumpee wotboa3 years ago
I was going to use the pie reference but I cut one slice too big and thought I'd eat it to equalize it and,well, one thing led to another and now all I have is an empty pie pan. I'll try again though as I'm very diligent. Perhaps blueberry this time. :o)
Absolutely AWESOME !!!

many thanks for taking the time & effort to properly document this with stunning pictures and with very well written instructions!

Finally i can get to work acquiring everything needed to build my own and buff my collection of iffy-cd/dvd's !!!! (especially those that were LENT and got back looking like they'd been used as a car's "wipe yer feet on this mat" mat, lol {& if a car had feet but you know what i mean, lol x 2 !})

anyhoo as i start my adventure finding the right bits for my mean polishing machine i have one question about your controller PCB, please would you be able to upload a schematic fo it or even the PCB artwork, ive only started learning electronics this year and made some real-nice progress into making homemade PCB's and would very much like to make your controller for adding pulse width modulation control to my buffer machine or if you could point me in a good direction of where i could find a circuit that your using i'd be most-grateful !

many thanks in advance & also another thank for the great 'ible !!!
wotboa (author)  offtherails20103 years ago
Hiya offtherails2010
I like your name a lot. Hmmm. Unless your bipolar.
Here's a link to the circuit I used, LM324 PWM:


I etched a circuit board, but the schematic is so simple that a beginner would be better off using point-to-point wiring on a perf board.
The most important issue is making sure that the buff motor has enough current. Get that solved and you got the thing running!

Howdy wotboa !!!

no not bipolar, lol ! Generally considered to do everything big and buy big (bulk, lol) always because overkill is so under-rated, lol !!!

Thanks so much for the PWM direction, once again many many thanks & another good helping of 5-Well-Deserved Stars Rated !!!!
yoyology3 years ago
Your machine is wonderful. I'm giving the 'ible a high rating. However...

Just as your background means you can't wire without lacing tape, so my background means I must comment when the word "librarian" appears in any Instructable.

Please please please let us librarians buff our own discs!

Every buff cycle removes a small amount of the plastic surface of the disc. We have a buffing machine, and when a disc is reported scratched, we buff the item and make a note on the case. That way, we know when the disc is approaching the end of its life and we need to order a new copy.

Though it may mean a movie-less night with your honey, please save your machine to use on your own discs.

Thank you.
wotboa (author)  yoyology3 years ago
Hello yoyology
Now that I have reread my intro, it does seem to imply that the primary use for the machine is to fix library disks.
That is not what I use it for (maybe a little) but let me tell the readers DON'T EFF UP THE LIBRARY'S PROPERTY.
There, I feel atoned.
This was built to use as a maintenance device for my archive data DVDs. If a disk is struggling to be read properly, a trip through the buffer works wonders.

PS I would love to see what a library disk buff looks like. Let's see. Government issue, bought with taxes, used rarely. Must be as big as a minivan, right? Post a picture if you choose to reply.

Yeah, well the library in my county (population 210,000) is open only a few days each week--a very slim majority of taxpayers refuse to pay operating costs for more. So, if the library has a niffy buffer machine, it was no doubt purchased by the Friends of the Library group (a private-sector organization) that sells donated books and holds bake sales to keep the library going!

Now, thanks for this project! I think I'm gonna built one. I too have little kids who aren't very careful.
wotboa (author)  tcarney573 years ago
Most libraries are going that direction. What a shame. If it weren't for the volunteers working, and the private donations, they would close completely.
Pardon me if I sounded like a basher, I use my local library a lot.
If it were up to me, I would keep the libraries open. What's more important? Having less potholes in the road or teaching your kids to read?
e5frog3 years ago
Looks like you're old enough to know what a floppy disk is. ;-)
wotboa (author)  e5frog3 years ago
I bet it was my 'Casablanca' song that gave me away.
That's another 'huh, what?' for under-50s.
Thanks, Bogie.
I've had great luck over the years with wiped out CD/DVD/Games using car paste wax. Turtle Carnauba.
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