Buffs and buffing wheels are used to hold finishing compounds and polish parts made of metal, plastic, ceramic, glass, wood, stone, silicon, or optical materials. They are made of cotton, wool, animal hides, sisal, synthetic fiber, or specialty materials. Buffs, bobs and buffing wheels that are made of napped flannel, non-woven felt, and woven cloth are also available. Face width, outer diameter (OD), shank or bore diameter, and rotary speed are basic specifications to consider. Face width is usually defined as the width of a buff or buffing wheel's other edge. For buffing wheels, outer diameter is also specified. The bore is the inner diameter (ID) of the center mount for buffs, bobs or buffing wheels. The shank diameter is the diameter of the integral shank, pin, shaft or mandrel on mounted points or buffing wheels. The maximum rotary speed or speed range is recommended by the supplier.
There are many types of buffs and buffing wheels. Examples include pleated products, bobs, and bias buffs. Airway or pleated buffs have folds or pleats to hold the buffing compound and/or allow air circulation. These products are also known as pocketed, folded, pleated airway, ventilated, accordion pleated, hot pleated (hot pleat), or sewn pleated (sew pleat) buffs. Polishing bobs, felts bobs, felt cones, cylinder bobs, knife-edged bobs, mushroom buffs, or hourglass buffs are smaller buffs with specialized shapes. They are mounted on the end of a mandrel. Bob shapes include round ball shapes, cones, mushrooms, hourglass forms, knife-edge, bevel lap, split, cylindrical or square edge, bullet or rounded end cylinder, balloon or reverse cone, and custom shaped forms. With a bias buff, the cloth is wound spirally around a central mandrel. These buffs, bobs and buffing wheels always present strands at a diagonal or 45° angle to the part's surface.
Buffing wheels, finger buffs, open or loose buffs, and spiral sewn buffs are available from suppliers of buffs, bobs and buffing wheels. Buffing wheels feature a conventional design. Finger buffs have a series of radial slots to form fingers, tabs or sections around the buff wheel. The fingers make the buff more flexible and conformable to the surface of a part with complex contours. Open or loose buffs have plies or layers of cloth in a loose or open-face configuration. The plies are not sewn or laminated together - except at the center. Open buffs are very conformable. They are also softer than sewn buffs. Spiral sewn buffs have plies of cloth that are joined together with a stitch that starts in the center and spirals out. Concentric sewn buffs have plies of cloth that are joined together with a series of circular stitches around the center. Sewn buffs are stiffer than open or pleated buffs, bobs and buffing wheels.
Buffs and buffing wheels include string buffs and rope buffs, polishing discs and buffing pads, polishing wheels and laminated wheels, and various specialty products. String buffs or rope buffs consist of loose strings or rope strands attached to a central hub or core. Polishing discs, buffing pads, buffing bonnets or polishing cloths or naps are larger wheels where the end or full-radius end is used for buffing or polishing. Polishing discs or pads typically have a harder, short nap or tight cloth-surface or nap. Typically, buffing discs, pads or bonnets are softer or fluffier, and consist of thicker foam layers, long strings, or constructions with longer naps (fiber lengths). Polishing wheels consist of plies that are laminated together to form a dense, hard wheel for fine polishing applications. Other buffs, bobs and buffing wheels are also available.