Home Forums General Discussion Forum Can you polish a glass crystal

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      Just wondering…I have been able to polish a plasic crystal but was wondering.. can you polish a glass crystal??
      I thought I had seen some sorta rouge that does.. or was I dreaming?

      Bob Tascione

        Hi Watchdogg,
        Yes you can polish glass crystals. It takes a little patience (can take hours if glass is badly scratched) but is fun to do. Rouge does work for tiny scratches but is EXTREMELY slow. Cerium Oxide powder is much quicker and works well for very tiny scratches. For deeper scratches I use wet and dry abrasive sheets, wet with water starting with 220 (or rougher if scratches are very deep) progressing up to 2000 then I use cerium oxide made into a paste. It’s important to clean the glass throughly between each sanding process. I do the sanding by hand but there is probably a better way to do it. I then use a felt wheel on my dremel tool for polishing with the cerium paste. This probably isn’t the best way but I’ve used the process many times with success. I’ve also experimented with automotive valve lapping compound followed up with cerium paste which worked as well.

        Hope this helps Watchdogg,


          Thanks Bob
          I have wondered about this too. Will try this today on some old glass crystals.


            Success! Thanks Bob! I followed the process on a quite old crystal from a fusee. I wish I would have taken before and after pictures. There were several deep scratches that took several hours of tedius work while sitting in front of the telly but the results were wonderful. Like new. I do hope my finger prints come back!



              Hi all. I’m in the process of polishing a crystal in an 18s case. It’s very thick.
              Actually I thought it was a bit ugly until I put an 1888 Waltham movement into it.
              The thick case matches the thick glass. The whole thing is heavy !! Love it !!
              The crystal is a tad short of 1/8 inch thick and is almost flat.
              It’s loaded with scratches. None of them extreme. So….
              Bob pointed you to cerium oxide powder which takes patience, as He said.
              I bought a pound of it on ebay. a double-lifetime supply !
              I also bought silicon carbide (a pound) 1500 grit. It’ll take off material faster than
              the cerium oxide. It’s put a foggy haze in the crystal so far but when I’m finished,
              the cerium oxide should make it look brand new. At least I hope !
              You’ll need something in the way of a dremel tool with a polishing pad.

              I’ve actually put a new crystal into another 18s case. It was exactly the right size.
              I put a fine bead of epoxy around the bezel and when half cured, removed the
              excess with a utility knife blade under my microscope. Only a trained eye could tell !
              But not likely the way to mount a crystal, I guess.
              Anybody out there know how the pros do it ? What tools are involved ?
              A fine watch movement looks cruddy in a nice case with a scratched and worn crystal.
              But a near perfect dial, a fine case and a brand new crystal makes for a stunning antique !

              By the way, silicon carbide and cerium oxide works very well for polishing any metals
              My 18s case shines like a mirror. Be careful though. The surface metal is plated on, usually.
              Take too much off and it’s ruined. Or at least will need to be re-plated.
              Oh, Bob… I’m still having fun….


                @ TickTockShoppe…. Very funny !!!! I hope my results are as good as yours.
                Still have my fingerprints. Guess I need to work harder…..


                  A pic of my 1888 Waltham lever set hunter. Crystal is getting better…
                  Not original case but who’ll know ? Will today’s jeweller even know ?
                  Gonna be a gift to my daughter upon my demise… It keeps good time.
                  Temp-sensitive, though. Happy in a warm pocket..
                  Pic looks yellow. It’s actually a pure white

                  Bob Tascione

                    Looks Good Clam71
                    and Good one TickTockShoppe!
                    Hey if I ever get back to the states I have a bunch of crystals I’ll send to you guys. Just kidding…I wouldn’t do that to you. Hmmm, I do have your addresses around here somewhere though!
                    Thanks for the pic Clam71,


                      Good one Mr. Bob .
                      But I’m more into the market for a nice Indonesian woman who’se lexicon is devoid of the word no.
                      Give Her my address ! Hahahaha


                        Polishing crystals:
                        Attached is a pic of my crude invention.
                        Mounted on a piece of broken glass with silicon glue.
                        A plastic coffee can lid with cerium oxide in it.
                        The crystal sits into the paper circle held by a cut of
                        #14 copper wire. The motor shakes it and it’s pinned on the
                        other end of the wooden paint stirrer. This pic was taken as
                        the contraption was working. Shutter speed on my camera is
                        a new thing for me ! It’s running at about 2500+rpm !
                        This friggin crude thing has hundreds of hours on it !
                        The DC motor is a Johnson 33 VDC. I bought 15 of ’em
                        surplus for 15+ with shipping !!
                        This is powered by a 12VCD power plug-in from some old thing
                        I saved. I ran it for 2 days with #1500 silicon carbide powder
                        and now it’s running with cerium oxide.
                        NOTE ! The crystal in this case is FLAT.1/8 inch thick.
                        The flat profile enables me to do this.
                        A curved crystal would need padding to fit somehow. Cotton batting
                        impregnatated with abrasives ?
                        Hope this amuses you !
                        The “shaker” on the motor was made of a penny.
                        Center hole to fit motor shaft and a hole near it’s edge to fit’the
                        #14 copper wire.

                        Bob Tascione

                          Hey John,
                          Now that’s a clever machine!
                          Does it do a good job?



                            Yeah ! it works SO fine ! BUT ….
                            The crystal I’m polishing has a FLAT front profile. It’s window-glass-flat.
                            Results ? Still have some deep scratches I’ll have to live with for now.
                            The silicon carbide powder (1500 grit) leaves a foggy crystal.
                            Did that for 2 days in the crude machine. Shouldda left for a week !
                            1/8 thick glass, ya know.. Had to polish it with the cerium anyway.
                            That took some time ! Same Johnson motor but fitted with a penny which I drilled 2 holes into
                            to stick some cuts of #14 gauge house wire into and stuck a cut of wine bottle cork.
                            The cork is perfect for a polishng pad !
                            The cerium oxide powder did a fine job, albiet, time spending. A bit at a time….
                            Anyone reading this fun adventure with a curved crystal ? DON’T !
                            I’m thinking of cotton. A pillow impregnated with polishing agents.
                            Dry scrub. Weight has to be evenly distributed. Another hitch…
                            My machine didn’t touch the bezel. A convex crystal wouldn’t work with the bezel attached.
                            It would cream the metal on the bezel !
                            Laziness is the mother of invention ! Haha !


                              Ahh, zeeze, by the way..Aside from looking real grand now, that size 18 vintage 1888 is keeping PERFECT time now !!!
                              I’ve taken it wherever I go now and it’s been subject to the stresses of which it was made to endure.
                              Have staff compatability things that you might help me out concerning 18S movements give or take 10 years
                              from this 1888 waltham movenent. Have a few others to restore.
                              Thanks ! Glad my folly amuses you !


                                Gotta say, that old Waltham 18S 3949617 vintage 1888 is 125 years old and still running perfectly !

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