Polymer Clay Tutorial | Sew Your Own Dremel Buffing Wheel and Save

Polymer Clay Buffing Wheel Material

Polishing Polymer Clay Beads With Homemade Sewn Fabric Wheels:

The other day I talked about how a Dremel rotary buffing tool is a super Christmas gift idea for anyone who wants to make polymer clay beads shine. I also provided direct links to a couple of video tutorials on how to use a Dremel rotary tool for buffing safely and effectively. Here’s the link to that article if you would like to catch up:

The Dremel… A Perfect Gift for Bead Crafters

Now if you are going to use a Dremel tool to buff your beads, you may want to consider sewing your own buffing wheels. It’s quite easy to do and can save you a lot of money over time. Plus… no more worries of having to race out to pick up new ones when they wear out.

Although simple to make, there are a few things to keep in mind when making homemade polishing wheels for your dremel or any other brand of rotary tool:

  • Always use natural or un-dyed fabric. The dye in a fabric will transfer to the beads while buffing if you use a colored fabric. Linen, heavy cotton, white denim or canvas are good choices.
  • Stack several sheets of fabric squares (as many as your machine can handle sewing through) and sew a spiral starting from the center and working your way out. Punch a small hole in the center for putting the screw through from the collet for your buffing wheel. Trim squares into a circle no bigger than 1″ diameter.
  • Don’t try to save time by skipping over the spiral sewing part. The fabric will quickly fall apart flinging threads all over the place. Keep the spiral fairly tight to avoid long strands from flying off while in use. A few short threads will come off the first time you use it but will stop after a couple of uses.
  • Don’t try to make your buffing wheels last longer by making them bigger than 1″ diameter. This will put too much torque on the machine and make it over heat. Trust me… been there done that!

If you would like to see a video on how to make your own Dremel buffing wheels for polishing polymer clay beads, then check out Volume-005 at the Polymer Clay Tutor Members Library. The specific title in the Volume-005 order form is referenced as:

Included with this Dremel Tool Tutorial are 4 other related videos, plus 5 custom color recipe cards:

  • Vid-005-1 Adding Crackled Gold Leaf Onto Tube Beads
  • Vid-005-2 Wrap Round Beads With Crackled Gold Leaf
  • Vid-005-3 Sewing Your Own Dremel Buffing Wheels
  • Vid-005-4 Using Rubbing Alcohol To Clean Dirty Clay
  • Vid-005-5 Learning From A Burnt Clay Mistake
  • Recipe-005-1A Pistachio
  • Recipe-005-2A Mustard Yellow
  • Recipe-005-3A Purple Wine
  • Recipe-005-4A Teal Pearl
  • Recipe-005-5A Old Gold

If you would like to first see a preview clip of the Vid-005-3 polymer clay tutorial video, you can do that here:

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Cindy Lietz, 07 December, 2008

    Synthetic craft felt in white, is also a good choice of fabric for making your buffing wheels. But wool felt seems to get too hot and melt the beads surface.

  2. Cindy Lietz, 27 September, 2009

    If you are interested, there is more information about using rotary power tools to buff polymer beads at the link by my name above.

  3. Nancy Boaz, 22 July, 2010

    I see comments on buffing with the Dremel. What about the sanding. Can you sand with the Dremel (mini?). I am a novice to polymer and have not finished any beads so any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

  4. Linda K., 22 July, 2010

    @Nancy Boaz: Nancy, put “sanding” in the Google Customer Search box in the upper LEFT corner of this screen. It will give you many references to sanding discussions.

    Did you sign up for Cindy’s free newsletter? If not, go to the upper RIGHT corner of this screen, where it says “Click Here.” Signing up will entitle you to view 3 free videos from Cindy, including the one on sanding.

    If you want to make a “power tool” for sanding from a cheap toothbrush, click my name next to this post. It will bring you to a tutorial on my blog for making a battery-operated toothbrush sander.

    Finally, if you’re a Member here, you probably know that tomorrow’s video will show us how to use sanding pads. If you’re not a Member, you should be!!!

    Membership costs $3.32 per month. For that you get 4 videos and 8 color recipes per month.

  5. Linda K., 22 July, 2010

    Jeesh, I meant to write “Google Custom Search.” Sometimes my fingers arent’ engaged with my brain, LOL.

  6. Carol K, 23 January, 2015

    I have to thank you for your information about making a polishing wheel for a Dremel. You are the ONLY person or website who said that making your polishing wheel too big will put excess torque on the Dremel & overheat the motor.

    Yesterday I bought a corded Dremel, and was anxious to see results with my felt polishing wheel. Soon the Dremel started feeling very hot. When I shut it off, it was actually smoking!

    I turned to the web to see if I could find some explanation, and started wondering if my new Dremel was defective. Then I saw your comments and knew that was my exact problem.
    I trimmed down the felt wheel, and my poly clay shines like glass now.

    If only I had found your words of wisdom before I ventured into polishing! Many thanks for your insight, as well as your fact finding experimentations.


  7. Cindy Lietz, 26 January, 2015

    Thanks Carol for your comment! I am happy to help you with that problem. When I made those large wheels I had not thought of the size being the issue, but when I talked to Doug, he had mentioned it could be the reason for the over heating. Then I read somewhere that you couldn’t exceed a certain diameter and knew for sure that was the issue.

    This blog is filled with information that solves all kinds of issues… figured out from mistakes I have made myself, knowledge gained throughout the years and knowledge shared here by others experiences. The search box at the top of the page is a great place to start when you have any issues in regards to working with polymer lay, so always start there.

    Happy to have you here!

  8. Laura West, 22 March, 2017

    I was wondering if you would answer my question so I can better understand. Mostly I’ve always just played with white clay and painted it once I made my creation, but recently I’ve ventured out and started to play with the colored clays and just made a bracelet yesterday and sanded it, but when I buffed it there was just a dull shine. Looking around some people are saying you’ll have the dull shine unless you use a power tool to buff, and there are a few I’ve seen that say you can get the glass like shine by hand. It’s taken awhile to convince my husband that this is a good idea to play with so I really want him to see first hand the beauty the clay offers. We can’t afford to buy all the different tools to help yet so everything is done by hand and I’d like to know why I’m not getting the higher shine after all the time spent sanding through the grits. Thank you for any help you can offer in getting me going in the right direction!

  9. Cindy Lietz, 27 March, 2017

    Hi Laura, the level of shine that you will get on your polymer clay depends on several things. The brand of clay… some brand will get a high shine… some will stay matte. If the piece has been properly cured. Under-baked pieces won’t get as shiny. How long you sand and to what grit. The type of material you buff with. And whether you buff by hand or with power.

    That being said, it is pretty hard for me to know what you should be doing differently without seeing what you are doing. Because you are doing everything by hand, you may not be able to get your piece to as high a shine as you think you should. One thing that would help is using some Renaissance wax as your final step. It is a little pricing though.

    Personally, I don’t think you should worry about what other people think about the beauty of the clay. Just keep going through as much info here on the blog as you can and improve your skills. If you think it is beautiful, that is all that matters. If you don’t think it is up to your standards, than keep trying to find the answers like you are doing here. Good luck!

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