Stunned! Felt wheel polishing vs. muslin wheels ...
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Thread: Stunned! Felt wheel polishing vs. muslin wheels ...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011

    Default Stunned! Felt wheel polishing vs. muslin wheels ...

    Dear PMers,

    Okay, so I'm pretty sure most of the old-timers here already know this, but I wanted to share my recent experience. I've often read that real felt polishing (buffing) wheels are what's needed for professional results ... but the cost differential over the standard muslin wheels (both close sewn, and open send) is staggering. So, I've hesitated to take the jump!

    Nevertheless, I finally "bit the bullet" and bought a set of real nice felt wheels in a variety of densities (hardnesses) and wheel diamter. I nearly caught my jaw in the spinning wheels as my jaw dropped within milliseconds from the astounding difference in performance!

    I will never again doubt any book/article/essay, that states that you'll have to sell the farm for some nice felt wheels ... but they DO perform. It's all true!

    Cheers from a previous disbeliever!

    Left Hand Thread

  2. #2
    Dave A is offline Titanium
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Roseville, CA


    Good to know, thanks for posting.

  3. #3
    L Vanice is online now Diamond
    Join Date
    Feb 2006


    I suppose you mean the felt wheels did well on flat or cylindrical surfaces. I generally use sewn cloth wheels on spherical surfaces. It is possible to shape a felt wheel or bob for a particular job, though.


  4. #4
    gmatov is offline Diamond
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    SW PA


    Does ANYBODY realize that there are particular tools for particular purposes?

    A nice felt bob is good if you want to polish out the inside of a trigger guard. That is near Dremel area. Dress down a rifle barrel, you want minimum 8" wheel, sewn, and heavily dressed with compound. Polishing, you can go with a loose wheel, and less dressing.

    A "hard" felt wheel is damned near a grindstone, also the same as the stone on your grinder, dependent upon your grit application.

    If you are buffing hex or octagon, such as barrels, or slabsided Colts, be warned that sharp corners are the "de'riguer", they don't like rounded off edges where nice sharp edges should be, nor would I.

    Look to what you are working on before you brag about how you found the be all-end all. Ain't no such thing.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011



    Wow! Sorry if my post came across as a "brag"! Certainly not
    the intention ...

    Anyway, regarding the "right tool for the right job", you are absolutely
    correct. My point was that compared to the close sewn wheels
    on planar surfaces, I was pleasantly surprised at how easily I was
    getting great results. Yes, for nice knife-edges on octogon barrels
    and such, one must be careful (and use the right tools) to leave
    these edges sharp. I certainly didn't mean to imply the opposite.

    Continuing the "right tool for the right job" theme ... I've also found
    that the existence of felt wheels of differing hardness (density) from
    "soft", "medium", "hard" and finally "rock-hard" when coupled with the
    fact of many different grits of polishing paste allow me a greater
    choice to use the "right tool for the right job".

    Also, there are several shapes available to the felt wheels (V-shape/
    knife edge), concave radius, split/bevelled edge, etc. Also, it's been
    pointed out that custom shapes can be obtained by the user.

    So, anyhow, I'm not pushing "felt wheels" for any reason (and certainly
    doubt that my finding them nice and useful is reason for a "bragging"
    post). In fact, I use the felts along with my open-sewn muslin wheels
    for various jobs! My intention was simply to let other persons know, that
    they might be pleasantly surprised with the results ... and that if the
    expense has been a put-off to felt wheels, maybe they might like to
    reconsider. (YMMV.)

    Have a nice day and a friendly New Year in 2012!

    Best Regards,


  6. #6
    salzburg is offline Plastic
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    vancouver b.c.


    Gmatov, if anybody is bragging it's you. I had no problem understanding that post.

  7. #7
    Pete F is offline Titanium
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Sydney, Australia


    Quote Originally Posted by salzburg View Post
    Gmatov, if anybody is bragging it's you. I had no problem understanding that post.

    James, thanks for taking the time to post this. Could you please provide more information on what cutting compounds you used on the wheels and also what you were polishing?


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011


    Hej Pete F.

    I've been polishing a bunch of different things when trying out the
    new wheels. One item has been refurbrishing an old Mauser model
    1894 rifle barrel that's been a side-project over the holidays. Also,
    been doing some of the rifle's smaller detailed parts to get a feel.
    Since the rifel is meant to be a show piece (and not a hunting rifle
    where barrel shine and reflection may alert game), I wanted to see
    how much of a mirror finish could be put on the 90 year-old barrel!
    Finally, just for fun been polishing up some custom tooling I've made
    for myself, and some large diameter stainless (SS2541) stock.

    I've been using everything from the tiny felt bobs, to 8" diameter and finally
    10" diameter wheels. For the polishing compound, I been using the
    whole range of the Brownell's "Polish O-ray" line from the 240 grit,
    320 grit, 400 grit, 500 grit and finally the "555" in all flavors (black,
    grey, and white). My understanding from various reading about
    polishing (for Gunsmith applications, I found the "Gunsmith Kinks, series
    from Brownell's informative and with a fair amount of historical reference
    as well as differences of opinions to consider.)

    My first experiements a couple of weeks ago used my set of
    close sewn muslin wheels as whell as open sewn muslin wheels ...
    one of each for each grits. That was my "baseline results".

    The next step of the experiement switch over to the felt wheels.
    Here, I used courser grit (240 and 320) on the 8" softer wheels, the
    medium grit (400) on the 8" medium wheels, and finally the 500 grit on 8"
    hard wheels, reserving the 10" rock hard felt wheels for the 3 flavors of 555
    grit. Each of the felts wheels is completmented with using the soft sewn
    muslin wheels (lightly loaded with proper grit size of each grit) on the other spindle.

    This is fairly close to the recommendations of the "Gun Kinks" articles
    and I take no credit for the ideas. But, my positive results make me happy,
    and also correlate with the "Gun Kinks" conclusion that "Felt Wheels are very expensive
    ... but a able to produce truly professional results".

    One caveat, I am sure experienced polishing masters have the talented
    chops to produce similar quality with muslin ... and I respect that.
    Just from my time efficiency curve and talent I belived felt wheel performance
    was a very unexpected and positive surprise. In that sense, I do NOT
    regret paying the higher initial purchase price and will happily use felt
    where it's the tool of choice (for me!).

    Yeah, okay long winded repsonse ... I suppose I was just killing a few more
    minutes before the nice "New Year's Dinner" ...



    My intention was to play with these a bit during the holiday downtime ...
    more just for my own education than for anything else just now.

  9. #9
    Sharps1874 is offline Aluminum
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Boalsburg, PA USA


    I have a set of the Brownell's felt wheels, also, and like them. As to gmatov's comment about the importance of avoiding rounded corners and edges . . . well, that is the whole point to the felt wheels. I'll also add the importance of avoiding wallowed-out screw holes, the hallmark of the typical small-town gunsmith who purports to provide professional re-bluing services. Personally, I don't see how a hard felt wheel becomes a "grindstone" when a sewn muslin wheel loaded with the same grit does not. The cutting action is in the grit. Hard felt by itself does not cut anything; it just provides better control of where the cutting occurs. Kim
    eKretz likes this.


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