Once you have made your silver item there are many ways to polish your piece depending on the type of finish you want to achieve. But generally, the best way to achieve a long-lasting, professional look is to polish your piece using sandpaper which you can easily buy from your local hardware store.
You will need to purchase different grades of sandpaper buying one sheet in each grade. The lower the grade number, the rougher the sandpaper is with the higher grade numbers over 1000 being very smooth.
Start with a lower grade of sandpaper and move your way up through the grades.
A guide for the grades to use would be:
1. 240 [start]
5. 1200 [Finish]
Before starting to polish your silver piece, put on a pair of cheap cotton gloves to prevent body oils contaminating the surfaces you will be polishing.
Starting off with the 240 grade sandpaper will help to get the surface even and eliminate scratches. It is really important that you polish the piece of silver with the sandpaper in one direction to make the surface tidy and smooth.
Each time you change your sandpaper to the next grade you need to change the direction that you are polishing in. This helps get rid of scratch marks more effectively and will give you a much better finish.
So if, for example, you are polishing a pendant, start polishing from left to right with the 240 grade sandpaper. Then polish from top to bottom with the 360 grade etc. Don’t forget to do the back and sides of your piece as well to finish the item professionally.
Just using a piece of sandpaper on its own can be quite awkward and it can be difficult to evenly rub the piece of silver over the whole surface. But here is a great tip you can follow to get around this problem.
Find a straight piece of wood that is about 30cm long by 4cm wide and 1cm thick. Place a sheet of sandpaper face down on a flat surface with the long edge of your stick flush with the edge of your sandpaper. Score the back of the sandpaper along the other edge of the stick. Follow this process to wrap the sandpaper around the stick about 4 times.
Without unwrapping the sandpaper, tape the ends of the sandpaper with something like parcel tape making sure the tape has a surface you can write on. Make sure you do not tape onto the stick. Remove the stick and then repeat for the other grades of sandpaper you have bought. Write the grade of the sandpaper on the tape at each end and do this with all of your grades.
When you are finished you will now have made sanding sleeves that can easily be slipped on and off of your stick as you move through the grades. As the sandpaper becomes worn, simply peel back and tear off that surface leaving the end tapes intact which will expose the fresh layer of sandpaper underneath.
You can also follow a similar technique with a flat lollipop or popsicle stick to make a smaller version to polish the more difficult areas of your silver and get a fantastic finish.