The best way to buff wood to a high sheen is with a buffing system that is meant for use on wood. There are a number of buffing systems that you can buy, and even buffers for metal will do the job in a pinch.
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However, if you really want to create the smoothest surface you have ever created on a piece of wood, then the Beall Wood Buff System is how to do it.
How to Buff Wood to a High Sheen
The nice thing about buffing wood rather than finishing it, is that the process is so much faster. A small project can be finished in minutes, and the sheen is amazing.
The reason that I recommend this sytem is because I have been using it for so long. If you know of another system that works as well, please leave a comment and share your experience with it.
Since this is the only way I buff wood, this is the tool that I am comfortable explaining and recommending.
When you buff wood, you are actually smoothing the surface with an abrasive, similar to the sanding process. The compounds that are applied to the spinning wheels have small abrasive particles in them.
Those particles cling to the buffing wheels, and then abrade the wood as it’s held against the spinning wheel. It’s almost like you are making sandpaper on the spinning wheel, and then the wheel does the work to sand the surface.
Buffing wood has been the primary way that tobacco pipe makers finish their pieces, and is where I learned about the method.
Sometimes, trying something new can really broaden your woodworking ability, and I wrote a whole article on how that can be beneficial.
A fine tobacco pipe typically has no finish other than a buffing and a layer of carnauba wax. If you look at one of my pipes on the left, you can see the shine and gloss. This is not a clear coat, it’s just from buffing.
Both pieces of wood have been stained to bring out the grain definition, then they were buffed with compounds. Finally, a layer of carnauba wax was applied with a buff as well, and the piece is ready to handle.
I am so glad that I started making tobacco pipes, because I learned how to buff wood. Now, I buff wood all the time on many different projects.
How to Buff Wood to a High Sheen – Video
The video shows how to buff wood with the system, and how fast the wood goes from dull to incredibly shiny and smooth. It’s only a few minutes long, and really shows the system in action. The Briar takes on a completely different look after buffing.
The Beall Wood Buff System comes in a couple forms. The one that I have in the video is meant to be used with a small motor. I happened to have a 3/4 horse power swamp cooler motor laying around the shop, so I chose to use this version.
There is also a version that attaches to the lathe, and the rotation comes from the headstock. (Look up any terms you don’t know in my Woodworking Glossary)
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The bottom line is that you will need to have some kind of motor to turn the buffs. If you do not have either, then consider investing in a mid size lathe. The motor that I have was about $200 by itself.
In comparison, a mid size lathe can be found for $350-$450 depending on the features. Some can be found for closer to $200 if you look around.
Also, buffs need to be turned at a certain rpm to be effective. My motor turns at about 1100 rpm, which is great for the buffing system. A traditional metal buffer will turn a lot faster, and most of them are too fast for wood buffing.
Make sure that you look for a motor that matches the speed recommendation for any buffing system that you choose.
At least you end up with two great tools instead of just one.
Most lathes have a speed adjustment, whether by moving a belt or adjusting a dial. This will allow you to drive the buffs that the speed that you desire for buffing.
Buffing Wood – The Advantages over Finishing
The real advantage to having the beall buff setup is that you can apply a finish in record time. Plus, it looks amazing when you are finished. I love to finish smaller projects and buff wood with my setup.
It takes smaller things like wooden rings, pens, small turnings, and tools, and makes them look incredible in a short amount of time. In most cases, the finish looks better too.
It’s also easy to repair a buffed finish. All you have to do is sand the damaged area, then buff it again.
Finishing multiple items for a show or an event can consume a lot of time. If you are making things that can buff well, then this is a great option.
I enjoy making wooden rings, and I finish the majority of them on the buff. Not only do they look great, but they only take about a minute each to finish. This cuts down on my time investment, and increases my profit per ring.
If you have any questions on How to Buff Wood with the Beall Wood Buff System, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends online. It helps me show more people the joys of woodworking. Happy building.
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