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View Full Version : Buflex Abrasive: Interesting Alternative to Wet Sanding



sequoia
12-12-2015, 04:52 PM
(Note: I apologize in advance for the long post. But I'm stoked about this stuff and I just got back from a holiday party where there was wine drinking.)

I was talking with a luthier friend of mine who uses this stuff called Buflex to final sand his instruments before polishing. In a nutshell, Buflex is a thin flexible abrasive latex film on a soft pad that is used to dry sand a finish to remove imperfections before using liquid polishing compounds and buffing out. It was developed for the aircraft and automotive industries. Before you sell a 54 million dollar airplane you want it to shine for the client and you want it to shine real nice but you don't want to pay for the labor thus: Buflex.

Now I'm not a super experienced finisher or guru (ha ha ha!), but I have used a lot of different compounds and techniques over the years. My father was an amatuer gunsmith and one of my chores as a child was to Tru-Oil his gunstocks for him. To this day I despise the smell of Tru-Oil which I associate with a small, damp room in the cellar and wasted afternoons when I could have been in the woods with my friends. I also finally discarded nitro cellulose laquer in total disgust due to its toxicity/flammability. Great stuff for a factory type setting or the luthier who kicks out lots of intruments which need to take the abuse, but for the hobbiest-small shop builder, not that practical.

Therefore, I've gone all in on shellac finishing. I won't call it French polishing because I omit many of the traditional steps that make up the technique (the rotten stone, the oil, the excrutiating boredom, the need to say "merde!" instead of "shit!" when things go bad, etc., etc.). One of the more monotonous stages in shellac finishing is the final level sand-out with decreasing coarseness of grits and it can be messy with all that water and grit everywhere as well as a nuisance buying, organizing and storing all those different grits. (What! I'm competely out of 2500 Micromesh! Merde!) So I got around today to using the stuff on an experimental uke since I didn't really have time to mess around and hey, it's just an experimental uke.

Here is how it went: The uke has a final cured out finish after many coats with sand-outs in between as per usual. All pores filled. Two final coats to give a glass-like finish before final level sand and polish. At this point I just went to Buflex green (~2500) and went after the imperfections. Much to my happy surprise it leveled what imperfections there were and didn't clog. As a matter of fact it didn't really matter with clogging. The aggressiveness was maintained no matter the build up. Every once in awhile I wiped off the build up and continued. Very fast and effective for all but the worst imperfections. Plus, at no time did I feel like I was in danger of sanding through. The pad allows just the right amount of pressure to take down the offending whatever.

I was done completely with the instrument in less than an hour (buffed out and looking buff) and no water/mess to clean up to say nothing of expensive sandpaper gone. I've only used it once and have much to learn, but I'm really liking it. Caution: Real expensive.

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ASAT
12-12-2015, 06:26 PM
Oooh.... that looks awesome!! I looked Buflex up and didn't think it was that pricy..... 25 sheets for $25...... then I looked at the sheet size, little bigger than a cigarette pack? How many sheets did you use to achieve those results?

Lou

sequoia
12-12-2015, 06:40 PM
The sheets are reusable since they don't degrade. Much. Or so I'm told. Since I just started using the stuff I have no idea longevity. Long I hope. Got it here:

http://www.eagleabrasives.com/buflex.html

Michael N.
12-12-2015, 10:45 PM
Just note that more traditional French polishing uses very little abrasive to achieve the gloss. It's virtually all done with the cloth and it takes very little time. It's not as flat and as glossy as that though.

sequoia
12-13-2015, 01:42 PM
Oooh.... that looks awesome!! I looked Buflex up and didn't think it was that pricy..... 25 sheets for $25...... then I looked at the sheet size, little bigger than a cigarette pack? How many sheets did you use to achieve those results?

Lou

Just one sheet and it is re-usable. For how long I don't know.

jupiteruke
12-21-2015, 10:41 AM
I ordered a "sample pack" to try it out and it really seems to be good stuff.
The sample pack is free with $8.95 for shipping (the money is in the shipping)
http://www.eagleabrasives.com/buflex.html

With the 'green' I sanded a TruOil finish and it sanded dry with no clogging. Cuts well, but without the aggressive feel that would seem to lead to sanding through the finish. The 'black', even finer, left me with a real fine, buff-able finish.

Looking things up it is important to get the "dry" bufflex, "191-1532" for the sheets. There are all sorts of other "Buflex green" papers which are cheaper (the $25 for 25 sheets) but these are not the same stuff.