Hand Tools

Answer from my experience

david weaver
...it doesn't really matter much (if the abrasive can be fine enough or the medium applying it forgiving enough), and I think the evidence is in the widely used polishes.

When I look at something like Zam, or other specialized polishes for soft metals that are "gentle and don't scratch", they are still in some cases 85% alumina (and that includes stearic acid or something else as a base - makes me think they're in a soap bar). They're different colors, but the SDS for the wax sticks pretty much looks 90%+ the same.

The market of professional users probably will find that the all alumina types cut faster than the older various types of oxides, and are perhaps more consistent (are they cheaper? i don't know...some of the buffing sticks sold by rio grande are $5 a pound).

I can only assume that, especially with something like that where time can be counted easily, the market has decided that alumina in different sizes is generally the best for polishing metal.

And I'm resisting the urge to try one of everything cheap, as I've got about 10 pounds of wax sticks already.

I already see very little functional difference in sharpness from 1 micron diamonds down to chrome ox. Steve Elliot mentioned that finer and finer does have some additional edge retention, but in terms of work product and surface brightness, 1 micron is about where I stop seeing new things. A buddy and I tested this years ago - he had the hots for the shapton 30K stone, and I already had the 15k pro. From the king to the shapton 15k, I could see a difference. From there to the 30K, I couldn't. Expensive way to find out.

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