I thought I’d show you one of my favourite pieces of workshop equipment – my barrelling machine, or buffer, as I like to refer to it. It’s great. You pop in pieces of jewellery, and they magically come out all bright and shiny after a couple of hours. Here it is in action. It has to live in the shed, because it’s very noisy.
It’s basically a piece of plastic tube, which you can seal at both ends. You add burnishing powder (soap), and lots of oddly shaped bits of stainless steel, like this:
The plastic barrel sits on two runners, which are turned by a motor. The barrel goes round, the jewellery, soap and steel bits are churned up together, and the jewellery gets polished. This is what it looks like when it’s finished (the soap foams up a fair bit):
I do polish the jewellery by hand, using different grades of very fine sandpaper, and a buffing attachment on my Dremmel (another great machine that I may show you later), but the barrelling machine just gives it the final, shiny, finishing touch. I leave some pieces with a matte finish, if it suits the design, but I have to admit that I more often succumb to the lure of the shiny.
Coincidentally, Shiny is also a rather fabulous song by the very brilliant band The Decemberists, who often feature on La Petite Maison’s playlist. You can listen to it here if you’d like to. I would.

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