If you have been making items which have been made from epoxy resin, there will come a point when you wish to polish to get them looking their best. As with all materials, there are ways that this process should be done, and others which should be avoided at all costs, as they are more likely to damage the epoxy resin, than help it.
With epoxy resin, one of the most recognized ways of polishing items is to sand and buff them. The degree to which needs to be done will depend on the items themselves and how well the item has been cast if it has been made from a mold.
Obviously, better molds and epoxy resin which has been mixed properly will produce higher quality items, but even the best of them will need finishing to some degree.
From the Top Level, Down.
It is fair to say that those who create items using epoxy resin will range from the casual hobbyist, through to those who make items for sale. While it would be easier for us to simply address the needs of the hobbyist, that would exclude a lot of the steps which would be required to make the finish on items for sale to the necessary standard.
So, instead of giving you the basics, we are going to cover how to sand and buff epoxy resin to as high a standard as possible using all the appropriate equipment. While this might mean we discuss tools and equipment that some hobbyist might not have, it allows us to show everyone who might use epoxy resin what the process should be.
Equipment Required to Sand Buff Epoxy Resin
For the purposes of this article, we are not going to list any branded items or compounds, as in most cases the brand isn't an important feature, but its effectiveness is. You may have a brand you already use, and there is also the fact that not all brands are sold in all locations.
The best advice is to use a brand which you are confident is of sufficient quality to do the job it is designed for. Here is the list of equipment and compounds you will need.
- Sanding block
- Sanding paper of grit specifications from 120 up to 2000
- Polishing compound
- Lint-free polishing cloth
- Buffing wheel
- Electric drill
- Electric benchtop grinding machine
- Flannel wheel
- Polishing ball
- Buffing compound
Other items you might want to consider using include, a dust mask, eye protectors and gloves.
Process for Sanding Epoxy Resin
Although the process you are about to follow is not especially complicated, it is important that you follow each step in the order in which it appears. Skipping or carrying out one of the steps sooner than it is listed can at best make the polishing less effective, and worse, could damage the epoxy resin.
You will see that all the sanding we do is by hand, and it is more than likely that your fingers, wrists, and elbows feel the strain. An important point here is that there is no time limit on this part of the process, so do it a pace that suits you.
Using the 120 grit sandpaper, and the sanding block if it helps, sand the entire surface of the item. Repeat this action using each grit specification, until you get to 400.
As you sand, ensure all pits and divots are sanded properly. This is critical and must be adhered to. If you move up from one grit level to the next and have missed any blemishes, they will be noticeable when it comes time to buff the item. This will mean having to start the entire sanding process again.
From 400 grit upwards, you should use water so that you are wet sanding the item. Use plenty of water as this will wash away the dust that is being created and keep the sandpaper clear so that it is effective.
Continue until you have finished sanding with the 2000 grit sandpaper. Check the item until you are satisfied that you have sanded all convex and concave blemishes from the item. This must be 100% before moving on.
Buffing Epoxy Resin
With the sanding complete, you can now proceed with buffing the item. Apply a small quantity of the rubbing compound to a polishing cloth and begin rubbing it onto the surface of item robustly. Leave it for a moment, and then use another part of the cloth to buff it off.
Continue this process until you have manually buffed the entire surface. Next, repeat these steps, but use the polishing compound this time, instead of the rubbing compound.
To give your item a final buff you can use either the polishing ball fitted onto a drill, a buffing wheel or both. Lastly, you want to apply the wax to the item, and hold it against a spinning flannel wheel. This should leave your epoxy resin, smooth, polished and looking absolutely stunning.