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11 January 2010

Archives November 2008 : Tool of the Month

Tool of the Month :
3M Radial Bristle Discs

The first piece I ever made was an intricate pierced rose pendant. The design had tiny crevices and holes that I just could not clean up. I tried so many different techniques from bristle brushes with compounds to tiny escapement files to thrumming with string charged with Tripoli and rouge. But all I was getting was a mess! So, I gave up.

About one year later, we got this little colorful, flower-like wheels from 3M. The tiny little fingers were conformable and flexible. They could reach into tiny intricate areas to sand and polish without using a compound. I decided to try them out, I mean what could it hurt? I was shocked, not only did they clean up my pendants, but the different grits provided a great uniform finish.

The 3M Radial Bristle Discs have highly flexible bristles that can easily get into small grooves and areas with fine detail. The fine fingers accommodate the shape of whatever they are brushing against, so they even work well on curved or flat surfaces. The radial bristle discs are cool running and long lasting. They can be used on most metals.

To use, stack the individual discs on a miniature screw top mandrel, you can use one disc or as many as you can fit on the mandrel to increase the surface area to be polished. They work best when you stack between three to six discs at a time. The discs must be mounted so they rotate as shown in the picture to the right.

The wheels have the abrasive compound embedded into the bristles, so there is no need to add polishing compound. Each disc is color coded to denote the seven grits that are available. The grits range from a coarse, 80 grit to a high polish, 1 micron.

JFF carries the 3/4" diameter wheels in packs of 1 dozen. Other sizes and grits are available by special order only.

I now use the 3M radial wheels on just about every project. From solder seams with tight angles to flat surfaces, the radial wheels leave a consistent uniform finish on high and low areas. I have found stacking three to six discs works best and I prefer using the coarser grits (yellow, white, red and blue). Don't get me wrong, the finer wheels work great also!

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