Things You'll Need
- ZAM polishing compound
- Fine grit sandpaper (220-400 grit)
- Acrylic Nail Filing Boards
- High-quality cotton muslin buffer pad
- Hand-held buffing machine (with a 1725-3450 rpm motor) OR
- Buffer attachment for a power drill
If you’re lucky enough to get a hold of some rare black coral, chances are high that you'll want to keep it in the best possible condition. Whether it’s the material for an artistic sculpture or a stunning element for a new necklace, your black coral will be in need of a good polishing if you want to turn it into something spectacular. With some woven muslin, sandpaper pads, and some polishing compound, you can have you black coral creation shining and ready for display.
Sand the coral down to a silk-like finish with the 220-grit sandpaper. Begin sanding in a circular motion from a central point in the piece of coral and sand outward, against the natural grain of the coral. For small crevices and corners, use small nail files as sanding boards.
Load the cotton muslin buffer pad with a generous amount of the ZAM polishing compound. The muslin pad should be moist, but not soaking wet.
Attach the buffer pad to the buffing machine, making sure that the pad is secure. The pad is attached by Velcro, or by sticking a metal end of the buffer pad into the machine (similar to a drill and its bit attachments). Many buffer pads with metal rods on their backs will also fit into drills just like any drill bit. See the specific maker of your drill to find the appropriate bit size.
Run the buffing machine at full power, making sure that the coral does not over heat. Buff the coral horizontally, removing all of the sanding marks. Apply pressure on the areas that have the most scrapes from sanding. If it becomes too hot, let it cool and begin again. Make sure the buffer pad is well lubricated with ZAM throughout the buffing process.
Buff the coral vertically (in the direction of its grain) until it has finally obtained a high shine finish.
Keep the muslin lubricated. This is key to obtaining the best finish.
Follow the specific instructions for all power tools. If you use a buffing machine with an incorrect RPM speed, you can burn through the coral.
- Keep the muslin lubricated. This is key to obtaining the best finish.
- Follow the specific instructions for all power tools. If you use a buffing machine with an incorrect RPM speed, you can burn through the coral.
Darren White is a third-year student studying photography and art history at Haverford College. Raised in the Philadelphia area, he has followed its art scene for some time, which has influenced his column, The Fashion File, that he writes for the "Bi-Co News." He also writes, edits and photographs for Haverford's fashion magazine, "Feathers & Fur."