tools for polishing stone

Can you polish stones with a Dremel?

Rock polishing machines are noisy and tumble rocks together to create a smooth and shiny surface. You can create similar results without this machine. A Dremel tool with a grinding attachment offers one solution.

Place the rock inside the clamp so you can reach a good portion of it. Holding the rock in a clamp helps prevent the possibility of grinding your fingers as you polish.

Attach the lowest-grit sanding bit—plug in the Dremel. Grind the entire surface of the rock with the grinding tip. Use just the top half of the bit to prevent deep scratches. Angle the tool as flat against the rock as possible to grind away rough edges evenly.

Switch to the 800-grit bit and continue to grind the entire rock. Grind with progressively finer bits until the rock starts to shine. Move it inside the clamp to expose the rough edges, and grind them down in the same way.

Rock polishing machines are noisy and tumble rocks together to create a smooth and shiny surface. You can create similar results without this machine. A Dremel tool with a grinding attachment offers one solution.

Place the rock inside the clamp so you can reach a good portion of it. Holding the rock in a clamp helps prevent the possibility of grinding your fingers as you polish.

Attach the lowest-grit sanding bit—plug in the Dremel. Grind the entire surface of the rock with the grinding tip. Use just the top half of the bit to prevent deep scratches. Angle the tool as flat against the rock as possible to grind away rough edges evenly.

Switch to the 800-grit bit and continue to grind the entire rock. Grind with progressively finer bits until the rock starts to shine. Move it inside the clamp to expose the rough edges, and grind them down in the same way.

Polish the surface of the rock to a high shine with a polishing cloth and a small amount of polishing compound. Buff the polishing compound into the surface of the rock for several minutes. This reveals the natural lustre of the rock.

Polishing rocks is just one of the many ways you can use a Dremel rotary tool. Clean off the rocks you want to polish with soap and water before you get to work. Select one rock to polish at a time, secure it in a vice clamp, and grind it down with progressively finer sandpaper and a sanding attachment on your Dremel. Finish polishing the rocks with a polishing wheel attachment and a polishing compound before you put them proudly on display in your rock collection!

A Dremel is a type of rotary tool that has many applications around the home and in the workshop. It will accept a wide number of bits and attachments for cutting, sanding, routing, buffing and polishing. You can buff and polish stones by hand-using a Dremel tool. In order to buff stones, you will need to sand them with several different sandpaper grits as well as buff and polish them with a polishing wheel. The process is labour-intensive, but the result will be shiny polished stones.

Collecting rocks is quite an enjoyable hobby for people of all ages. It is cheap to carry out and a wonderful way to go out and have fun in the outdoors.

If you have small kids, it’s a great way for them to learn about science. If you have quite a number of soft rocks that you’ve collected over time, you can polish them to reveal their natural lustre and hues.

The notion behind polishing rocks is pretty straightforward. Just like in nature, a harder rock is rubbed against one with a softer texture, to grind down the rough patches.

Machines for polishing rocks can be noisy when they tumble stones together to make them smooth and shiny. Similar results can be achieved without using a machine.

A Dremel drill, also known as a handheld rotary tool is a suitable device you can use while polishing your rocks.

A Dremel’s operation depends on high speed rather than torque.

By attaching the appropriate bit to the hand rotary tool, the device can drill, polish, clean, grind, carve, sharpen, sand or engrave some patterns on materials. Dremels may be battery-powered or corded.

Need mason tools? We have it all here at Stonemason tools.

Procedure for Polishing Rocks with Dremel:

  • Put the stone inside the clamp to allow you to access a good part of it. Placing the stone on a clamp protects your fingers against being ground as you polish.
  • Put on your protective eyewear, gloves and an air mask.
  • To the Dremel, attach the sanding with the least grit and plug in the drill. Grind the whole surface of the stone using the grinding tip.
  • To avoid lengthy scratches, utilize only the top half of the grinding bit. Aim to work at a flat angle against the stone as much as you can to grind the rough edges well.
  • Change to the 800 sanding grit and commence with grinding the whole rock. Progress with finer bits as you continue until the stone begins to shine.
  • Move it in the clamp so you can see the rough edges and get rid of them.
  • Polish the rock’s surface to achieve great shine using a polishing cloth and a compound for polishing. Buff this compound into the rock’s surface for a few minutes.
  • This will bring out the natural shine of the stone.

For people who love to collect rocks, knowing how to polish the stones to reveal their natural lustre is as vital as doing the rock collection.

You don’t need to have extraordinary proficiency, be patient and interested.


polished stone

How to polish rocks with a Dremel: How to Polish Large Rocks

Most of the time, rocks are in shapes that are not uniform. To shape large rocks to a rounded, uniform point, utilize a hammer and a chisel.

This will help you in breaking off the big protrusions. As rock dust may harm your breathing system and eyes, you should put on protective glasses and a gas mask while dealing with rocks.

After you’ve shaped down the large rock, you can grind the rough patches against a rough surface to smoothen the patches.

Wash off any dirt and debris that may be on the rock using warm soapy water. To soften the stubborn dirt and debris that is on the rock, you can soak it in the water for some 30 minutes.

It’s important to wash off dirt from rocks prior to polishing them to avoid clogging up your sandpaper or machine with debris. Also, the rocks won’t be properly polished.

Hand polishing a rock that is quite large may prove to be a tiring task. It may be more preferable to acquire some bench grinders.

Outfit them with some pads for polishing then apply on each a different type of polishing compound.

Unless you’re planning on shaping the large rock a lot of polishers, apart from tumblers, will not be suitable.

You’ll need to adapt some apparatus to hold the rock in place while you work on it.

The challenge with sanding is that many stones may be harder than the grit of the sandpaper. Most sandpaper is made of flint or garnet.

For a large rock, try and find sandpaper made of carbide or diamond. You’ll accomplish more this way.

Healthwise, it is not good to grindstones in the outdoors; you can easily acquire a terminal lung illness known as grinder’s consumption.

Grinders working in cutlery industries used to acquire this disease, and yet they used water-cooled machines. It is better to use a tumbler like a cement mixing machine to tumble huge rocks.

Be sure to have these stonemason polishing tools for your next work.

How to Use a Dremel to Buff & Polish Stones

Step 1

Place the stone on a work surface. Insert a sanding drum into the rotary tool chuck and lock it in place. Insert the 50-grit sanding drum pad over the sanding drum bit.

Step 2

Sand all sides of the stone’s surface with a progression of the 50- through 1500-grit sanding drum pads. Sand at each grit until you feel that it has been smoothed out enough to proceed to the next coarseness. Over time the stone will begin to have a more smooth and progressively polished appearance.

Step 3

Remove the sanding drum bit from the rotary tool chuck and insert the buffing/polishing wheel. Lock the wheel in the rotary tool chuck.

Step 4

Apply polishing compound to the wheel and proceed to buff and polish the surface of the stone until you arrive at the desired sheen.

Step 5

Remove the oily residue left on the stone by dipping the polishing wheel into denatured alcohol and polishing the stone until it is completely free of the polishing compound.

Having a hard time polishing stone? buy stone polishing tools we got you covered.

Cleaning the Rocks

Fill a container with hot soapy water. 

Get a container big enough to submerge all the rocks you want to clean in. Put in a few drops of dish detergent in hot water.

  • Any mild dish detergent or other mild liquid soap will work fine to clean the rocks off.

Place the rocks you want to polish in the container and let them soak

Make sure the rocks are fully submerged. Let them sit for a few minutes to loosen up the dirt before you scrub them clean.

  • You can stir the rocks around gently with your hands to help loosen the dirt even more.

Use a toothbrush to scrub the dirt off of the rocks

Get into all the cracks and crevices with the bristles of the brush. Rinse the rocks off in the soapy water as you go until you have removed as much dirt as you can.

  • You can use any other kind of bristled brush, or even a scouring pad, if you don’t have an old toothbrush to use.

Pat the rocks dry with a towel and let them air dry completely 

Dry off the rocks with a clean towel as much as you can. Let them sit out in the open, on the towel or on a rack, to air dry completely.

  • Once the rocks dry, you can see if you missed any dirty spots and give them a second scrub if needed.

Sanding the Rocks

Place a rock in a vice clamp to secure it for grinding

Attach a vice clamp to a flat work surface. Put a rock you want to polish in it with the largest area exposed to start sanding there.

  • You can get small clamp-on vices that you can attach to any flat surface at a home improvement store or online.

Put on a face mask, protective glasses, and gloves 

Use this protective gear to keep you from breathing in rock dust or getting an injury. Rock dust is very harmful if breathed in, and one slip with the Dremel tool could cause injury to your fingers.

  • You can find all the necessary protective gear at a home improvement store.

Grind the whole rock with low-grit sandpaper and a Dremel sanding attachment 

Change the bit on your Dremel tool to a sanding attachment and slide a low-grit, like 600-grit, sandpaper band on it. Grind the first exposed surface of the rock, then rotate it in the vice clamp to expose another side and grind that surface.

  • Keep rotating the rock and grinding each newly exposed surface until you have gone over it all. This first round of sanding doesn’t need to be perfect. You will perfect the finish with increasingly fine sanding attachments.

Switch to a medium-grit sanding band and grind the whole rock again

Change the sanding band on the Dremel to a medium-grit, such as 800-grit, sanding band. Repeat the process of rotating the rock around in the vice to expose each surface and grind it all over.

  • Pay attention to areas with sharp edges or crevices. Spend extra time sanding these areas down before you move on to fine-grit sandpaper. Angle the bit as flat to the surface of the rock as possible to grind down these parts evenly.

Grind the whole rock the last time with fine-grit sandpaper until it starts to shine 

Change the sandpaper on the Dremel tool to a 1000- or 1200-grit sandpaper. Sand all over the rock until it has a completely smooth finish and starts to look shiny.

  • Use just the tip of the grinding bit to give the rock a smooth final finish.

Polishing the Rocks

Switch the Dremel bit to a polishing wheel 

Choose a polishing wheel that is small enough to reach all areas of the rock you are polishing. Take out the sanding attachment from your Dremel tool and replace it with the polishing wheel.

  • Polishing wheel attachments are soft, felt bits that are used to buff different materials and make them shiny. You can get different Dremel bits at a tool store, home improvement centre, or online.

Dip the polishing wheel in rock polishing compound

Turn the Dremel on and dip it gently into some rock polishing compound. Remove it after a few seconds when you have coated the wheel with the polish.

  • You can get rock polishing compounds online or in a specialty rock shop if there is one in your area.

Buff the compound into each surface of the rock until it is shiny 

Keep the rock in the vice and buff the polish into one exposed surface at a time with the polishing wheel. Rotate the rock when you have made the exposed surface you are working on shiny and work on the next area.

  • You should notice the rock starting to reveal its natural lustre after a few minutes of buffing. Keep going until you achieve the look you want.
  • You can give the rock a final polish by hand with a piece of fabric like denim.

Safety tips when using rotary tool polishers

Please always wear good eye protection, a dust mask and ensure you have on a long-sleeved top (no draping sleeves though!) and an apron when using any of the above products. Wearing finger tape will help protect your fingers and nails from dirt, cuts and scrapes when sanding polishing, and buffing.

So, is it worth investing in tools for cutting and polishing gemstones?

Yes, if you’ll use them frequently. And it may also depend on whether you’re creating the pieces to sell or not – because a higher quality finish may be more achievable when you have the right tools. If you’re only experimenting and it’s unlikely that you’ll develop a stock offering in lapidary, it’s probably best to stick to the low-cost alternative. Or if you’ve been asked to produce a bespoke gemstone piece, it may be worth outsourcing this service as a one-off.

But if you’re looking to introduce gemstones into more of your jewellery designs, investing in the proper tools for cutting and polishing gemstones is the right way to go – be that a hand drill or pendant motor. As outsourcing, every piece will add up and can get to be quite costly.

Find everything you need for your next jewellery making project at Cookson Gold – from jewellery tools to bullion.

Last but not least, if you choose to work in the open, ensure that you put on high-quality air masks.

This applies to hand polishing as well when you’re using sandpaper. The rock dust is very harmful.

Dremel drills tend to spread stone dust around quite rapidly, so it is better to use professional rock grinding tools to do a safe job. Safety is paramount when you’re having fun polishing rocks.

Scroll to Top