Introduction: Making Buffing Wheels for Wood Turning

If you enjoy woodworking, you know how important finishing your project is. If you are a wood turner in particular, you probably have seen the buffing systems on the market. If you have seen them, you also have probably seen how expensive they are. Because of this, I decided to make my own wheels, which work just as well as the expensive systems out there, mine only cost me around 12 dollars, but I already had almost all of the parts. If you don't, you can still make this for substantially cheaper than buying a new system.

I am entering this into the wood working challenge so please vote for it!

Step 1: Materials and Tools

There are actually very few materials required to make these wheels. Your biggest invest will just be time, and at that, you can easily make three wheels in  just a few hours.

-Flannel (You want 100% cotton flannel. This is a very cheap fabric, I got mine for $1 a yard, and just ended up buying the rest of the bolt for $12.33. I ended up with a lot left over so I would estimate you could easily make three wheels with 8-10 yards.)
-9x9 scrap of plywood (The measurement of the wood merely dictates the diameter of your wheel. If you want a larger wheel, use a larger square, smaller, use a smaller one. )
-2 Nails
-3 Medium-Large Screws (Machine screws, not drywall)
-6 Washers, 2 small, 2 large

-Fabric Scissors (You will notice that mine are not fabric scissors, and I deeply regret it. If you have them use them, but regular scissors will work.) 
-Electric Drill

Step 2: The Fold

You are going to want to fold your fabric, in half to start with. It should already be folded in half once from when you bought it, if not, you basically want it 4 sheets thick. Lay  your template black on the fabric and make your first fold from the left onto the block. Make sure you cover the whole front of the block, you don't want half sheets, it just make for more problems later. Then Begin flipping the block to the right, pulling the fabric tight as you go. The more folds you have, the thicker your wheel will be. 5-7 flips is fine in my opinion, but use your best judgement. Cut when you are satisfied. Then, tap  a nail through the center on each side, just enough to secure the fabric to the board.

Step 3: The Cut(s)

Here is where those fabric shears come in handy. You must cut all the folds on all four sides of your fabric square. This is the most time consuming part, but its is not hard at all, due partly to the nature of the fabric. If you snip each fold at the corner, it is easy just to tear the folds down the sides. Feel free to cut each fold, but tearing them is much easier, and quicker. What you ultimately are doing is making several square sections of fabric. Once all side are cut, take out the template.

Step 4: From Square to Circle

Now the you have all square, take them, and Nail them slightly to your template block again. Then, using either compass, or a circle object, draw a circle on your square. Then, simply cut the sheets into circles, leaving them nailed down. You should easily be able to cut 2-3 sheets at a time. More than that will just slow you down.

Step 5: Starting the Assembly

Once you have a pile of flannel circles, you are going to start to assemble everything. If you don't have any waste blocks for your lathe, or don't even know what they are, they are simple to make. All you have to do is mount at square of wood between centers on your lathe and turn it down to a cylinder that will fit in the jaws of your chuck. You want the wood to be around and inch thick, and don't use anything particularly soft, maple is good choice. Then you want to pre-drill a hole in the center of your blank a little bit smaller than the screw you will be using for the wheel.

Once you have that done, its time to assemble. The assembly will go like this, slide the washers, 1 small then one large, onto the screw, then force the screw through each sheet of fabric. It may help to ream the holes of the fabric with a larger screwdriver first. Then, screw the entire thing onto the hole you pre-drilled in the waste block.

Step 6: Defuzzing

The next part is the messiest part of the whole thing. Be fore you can use your wheel, you have to get all the loose fibers out. SO after you mount the wheel on  your lathe, start by vacuuming  the wheel with the shopvac, lathe off. After it seems like you cant vacuum any more off, you can then turn on the wheel. Let the fuzz fly. Keep vacuuming as the wheel is on. Then wrap a block in the course sand paper, and start sanding the wheel. It will pull the loose fibers out, and eventually you will stop getting them all together. AlFuzzso make sure to keep the lathe on a lower speed.

Step 7: Finished

There you have it, a buffing wheel you made all yourself, and for a fraction of the cost of one of of those expensive systems. Now just repeat two more times! You can buy the buffing compounds online on any woodworking store, and I have also seen them for sale at Sears. I hope this help and saves you some money.

And again, Please vote for this in the Wood Working Challenge!


manishrkp (author)2013-07-27

Can this be used with angle grinder i.e. what are the max r.p.m. this wheel can stand?

SlickSqueegie (author)2013-01-10

i like this idea... instead of cutting the circle of fabric, why not just rotate each square a little bit rotating all the pieces evenly... and I also agree, you should run a spiral stitch around the entire square a few layers thick unless you can go through a half inch of fabric with your sewing machine... But you could create the same effect by doing a few layers at a time and then combining them together to form the wheel...

Nice job, great idea!

waldosan (author)2012-11-20

this seems like something easy to do, do you think i could use denim all-thread and my drill press to make a buffer for metal pieces or would that be more like a polishing wheel?

gomibakou (author)2012-11-18

i think sewing the discs could help to have a more solid surface, like commercial ones. At least all i saw are sewed xD

ripit (author)2012-06-02

just a thought here, you could prob save time by sandwiching the cloth between 2 pieces of ply and cutting out the circle with a bandsaw all at once.

rimar2000 (author)2012-06-01

Very interesting, I will make one as this. You can cut all fabric at one using a jigsaw with a sharp edge (cutter) instead of teeths. Any hardware store have them.

Maybe another method is to press the pack of fabric between two pieces of wood, but I never did it with fabric. I did it with papers, is very effective.

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