Prescott Valley, AZ 86314
Even something this large often needs to be placed on sand bags to secure it from wobbling.
These are our sand bags. Just some thick tub socks one of our brother's got for Christmas. "Always keep a clean one for hanging over the fire place."
Secco wet polisher with 7 polishing pads. We found on Amazon for under 200 bucks.
Stuff is flying everywhere when you are polishing; water, scrapes of fossil rock, and may-be something else. Just protect your eyes is the most important part.
If you click on this image, you can see the ties Mark used to make sure it didn't break while he was polishing this slab.
Being creative is a part of this task. Always remember that you are working with Nature and not something manufactured by human engineers.
This brings up a good point; all of the great artist I have known agree that mistakes end up the best part of the work. The same goes with petrified wood. Chips, cracks, etc. just make the project what it is; Mother Nature in one of her rarest forms.
We are going to explain how to polish petrified wood by hand. Bear in mind this is our process and it is not written in stone, just how to do this correctly. So do like we do; just have fun with it.
Wet Polisher We use the Secco 5" wet polisher, we went to Amazon.com and picked it up with 7 sanding pads for under 200 bucks. It works great and you will get wet. I turn down the water flow to keep from wasting too much water. In fact the area surrounding where we polish is quite green.
Table A nice solid wooden table he works on. I have used a plastic one and it works fine until you load it up with a heavy piece. Just be comfortable and keep the patio slider closed, you will be surprised how far it can fling water.
Sand bags We both took some thick tub socks and we filled them with pea gravel and tied off the ends. They work great for setting the slabs on or shoring up uneven pieces. You need to have a solid surface to work on or the polishing will be a tad more difficult than it need be.
Polishing Pads You should have: 50 grit, 100 grit, 200 grit, 400 grit, 800 grit, 1500 grit and 3000 grit.
Gorilla Glue This is a must, because the pads are attached with velcro to the grinders wheel and after a little use, the adhesive from the factory brakes down and you will need to start gluing the edges. Gorilla Glue is very permanent, just be sure to follow the instructions and wet the areas to be glued with water.
Okay, your ready to have some fun.
Before and After
This is an excellent piece of Navajo Petrified Wood. You can spray water on the surface and get an idea of what you're going to find inside when it is sliced and polished.
"The Story Teller"
If you click on this image, you will see so much more in color and the crystalized areas will show through. After repeatedly gazing on this piece, we each see a different story.
This is a perfect example of what can happen with a average looking piece of petrified wood when polished.
How to Polish:
(Before you start, make sure you remember to remove the pad before storing your polisher. Trust me on this one.)
Before you start, put on your safety glasses.........
Step 1: Put your fossil on the table and get it nice and steady. This is where the tube sock sand bags come into use. We use two and sometimes three to do the job. If the piece you are working on moves all over, you cannot get a good finish. So, make sure it is secure.
Step 2: Hook up the grinder per the instructions. Test the circuit breaker on the electrical cord and then hook up the water line and hose. At this point, it's important to decide if you want to get soaked or to put on your rain gear.
Step 3: Attach the first pad which is, presumably, the 50 grit. Do it slowly the first couple of times and make sure the pad is centered on the wheel, if it is not, it will wobble and that's not good in the long run for your finish or for the polisher. Make sure the electricity is on to the polisher and turn on the water. On the polisher is a valve that needs to be opened. Do so about half way and then back it off until you have a small flow of water. At the back of the polisher should be a dial with some numbers, we usually run it about 4 with the first few pads and adjust it up to 5 or 6 with the later pads.
Be prepared to spend some time on the first pad. It might take 20 minutes if the piece is very smooth or it can take hours if the piece has an undulating surface or has saw marks and such.
Caution: Before you go to the next higher grit pad, let the surface of the piece you are working on dry. Then get down and look very carefully at the entire surface. Look for saw marks and other imperfections. The surface should be perfect. If you are not careful at this stage and are in a hurry, be prepared to start over after you have finished. I've done it plenty of times because I was in a hurry. Another thing to make a note of is; many areas on the petrified wood are not of the same density, so the finish will vary in sheen.
You want to take the time to make sure the edges are hit twice a much as the center areas. Go one direction on the entire surface and then the other. In fact you should do many directions on the whole area being polished.
We spend a lot of time on the second (100 grit) pad, making sure we get the edges as well as the center areas.
Caution: Be sure to use a lot of different paths, avoiding a pattern, while polishing your fossils surface. If you are not diligent, you can easily develop waves in the polishing job. These waves are the bi-product of polishing from the same side and not rotating the piece several times while polishing.
Take your time on the rest of the pads.
Wait until the piece completely dries on the surface and you give it the Pteranodon eye before you say; "Voila". Mark
Copyright 2009 Hovely Art Systems, LLC All rights reserved. Webmastered by Vincent M. Hovley
Prescott Valley, AZ 86314