How to Polish Resin – Pro Secrets Revealed

How to polish resinAfter completing your resin projects, you may decide you want something a bit shinier. Good news! You can polish resin and I’m going to teach you how.

Do you have a hard-curing resin or a soft-curing resin?

This is important because soft curing resins will make crumbs and can melt. So how do you know how hard your resin has cured? Determine the type of resin you used for your project. Polyester and polyurethane resins cure quite hard. Casting epoxies cure hard — like the hardness of glass.

Pro tip: If you can dent your cured resin with a fingernail or if it softens with body heat, it is not a hard curing resin.

How do you know if you are using a casting resin? 

If it’s an epoxy resin from the Resin Obsession store, we have that information for you in our downloadable resin buying guide.

Hard-curing resins: Polish with a buffing wheel and compound

Use a cotton buff and polishing compound appropriate for resins (I use Fabulustre). Let the buff spin, use it to pick up the compound, then press onto the resin to polish. You can use a Dremel tool or flex shaft for small projects like charms. A large buff makes quick work of polishing something larger like a resin bracelet. Keep the piece moving, meaning you do not want to buff any one area more than a couple of seconds. You also do not want to press the piece into the buff. Let the buff do the work. Run it over the resin, but don’t use too much pressure. Go over the entire piece as necessary. Wash with soap and water to remove the polishing compound residue.

Important: Wear safety glasses and keep hair tied back when using any tool that rotates.

Here’s a video showing how to polish resin with a buffing wheel:

Soft curing resins: Polish by hand with polishing compounds

Because soft-curing resins can melt, you need to polish them with a ‘lighter’ touch. This is a good time to use polishing compounds meant to be used by hand. The Novus polishing kit works great for this.

Follow the steps to use the liquid with the polishing cloth to get a shiny finish. While your resin may not get as shiny a finish as using power tools, it does achieve a shinier finish than without buffing. You can see how to the Novus polishing kit here:

So what other options do you have to get a shiny finish on resin jewelry and crafts if you don’t want to polish it?

1. Recoat with another layer of resin. While it can be a bit messy, another layer of resin will give your resin project a glossy finish.

2. Spray with a couple of light coats of resin gloss sealer spray. Make sure your surface is smooth, then apply lightly to your resin surface. Recoat as necessary. You can see how to use the spray here:

3. Buff with automotive wax. While it won’t give you as shiny a finish as the other options listed above, it’s a quick fix.

I’ve got a comparison of six different polishing options for resin here:

What other questions do you have about how to polish resin?

Want to learn more about crafting with resin but overwhelmed with knowing where to start?

Get your copy of Resin Fundamentals.  I’ve condensed my fifteen years of resin experience into a book that gives you a clear path on how to make something amazing with resin.

Unpublished Blog Posts of Resin Obsession, LLC © 2021 Resin Obsession, LLC

Like this post? You may be interested in  In 5 Minutes, I'll Give You The Truth About What Resin To Use

26 thoughts on “How to Polish Resin – Pro Secrets Revealed

  1. Using Flitz is pretty good as well. Use a Dremel with a dampened cotton buff ball, a bit of flitz and buff away. Just before it dries, buff with a clean, dry microfibre cloth

    1. i tried this but as mentioned – epoxy resins can be on the softer side even if they feel hard to touch. the Dremel overheated the resin and made it cloudy for me. I find hand polishing works better with a soft cloth and gentle touch

  2. Hello,
    WHEN recoating with resin if it is pretty shiny use 1500 wet and dry to give a key all over wipe off with alcohol. If you pour on a shiny surface without keying it will puddle.
    Dave

  3. You can find quality Sand papers beginning with the courser grits working down to the very very finest is absolutely key To a polish without additives. The final sanding should be with a grit that is so fine you can barely sunset with your fingertips. 3M now makes a purple cloth back sandpaper selection that is excellent and I take this very last one, and dip it in water and then very very lightly sand until it feels as if you are slipping on ice. When you get that sensation under the fingertips you will find at the resin has now smooth itself to a degree that it is shiny and luster full. At the polishing stage I have found it to be very necessary to not use fast speed and hard friction, one can produce fiberglass!9 also, depending on which brand of resin this last buffing can sometimes be advantageouslydone with some of the powdered Mica and pearls used for pigment ink yet will interact with the surface in a way that will produce more shine.

  4. What about sanding down rough edges? Could you give a lineup of sandpaper (in order) to use?

      1. This is probably a stupid question -Is it possible to put resin and Sterling ring into a tumbler with mixed sho? The resin itself appears really hard-a friend asked me to polish and since I haven’t used resin in a jewelry setting so far-I thought I’d ask
        Thanks,
        Nan B

        1. Hi Nan, if it’s a very-hard curing resin, than I would give it a try. Otherwise, if you’re simply trying to polish it, it might go faster using a polishing wheel and compound.

  5. Hey Katherine,

    Love your site and demos. A suggestion for the nail polish and the other finish you painted on; don’t skimp on the amount on the brush when you are applying it. The more times you stroke the brush, the more likely you are to get bubbles.

  6. I have a cabinet that I want to do a layer of pennies on then the resin. The pour will be about a half of an inch thick and 17×25. Three sides are metal which will help contain the resin, but the front does not have a side. I want to make the pour and temporally fasten something to the front side to contain the resin. I was hoping that when the front part was removed I could round the corner and buff it out if needed. I.m looking for suggestions for doing this. I have not done this before.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Robert,

      You have a lot going on here!

      I want to help you with your project, and I think this situation is best suited for a one-on-one consulting call where you and I talk back and forth about what’s going on. A 15-minute consultation call is $20. I do them by video so I can have a chance to see what you are working on.

      If you are interested, please send a message through the ‘contact us’ page and I can get this going for you.

      Best, Katherine

    2. Aluminum tape will
      Work great for making a wall to contain resin and you can peel
      Off when done. You will need to polish as resin takes in the sheen of the mold it cures in. I use aluminum tape for round table molds. Tyvek tape or sheathing tape works too, but aluminum tape is thick and can make a solid wall. Tyvek over aluminum is giving you option to re-use your homemade wall

  7. Can the Resin Obsession Super Clear Resin be polished with a buffing wheel and compound or do you recommend polishing by hand? Looking to create cabs for silver jewelry and I want something that will stand the test of time. Thank you!

  8. Do I have to polish my resin piece or can I just leave it as is if it looks good? This is my first time working with this and I’m just filling in some holes for coasters

    1. Hi Alyssa, if you are happy with how your piece looks, then I think it’s okay to leave it alone. 😉

  9. I use a nail buffing block i have a 7 step and a 4 step depending on how dingd up the resin is it works reasonably well , i find i really hate how a recoat softens the hard lines on some projects… Sorry if its a reapet

  10. I just wanted to add that I just used the sealing spray you mentioned for the first time and I followed instructions to a T (and I have experience with similar sprays) and this absolutely completely ruined my piece. It left a thick, cloudy mix gritty finish and I’ve been trying to sand it down all day to try to save this as it’s a gift for someone. I went back and searched reviews on alternative sites from where I purchased and all reviews are 1 star and staying the same thing. It’s been EXTREMELY frustrating to say the least. I’m actually here looking for more solutions to get the shine back after that spray basically killed all of my hard work

    1. Hi Erin, I’m sorry to hear the gloss sealer spray did not work out for you. What you’re describing sounds like you applied it in too thick a coat. If you do, it will turn cloudy. This video shows how I use it to get a clear, glossy finish: https://youtu.be/ITsGX4PcPrE

  11. Hi
    I sanded my resin tray as described and it felt beautiful and smooth. It just needed polishing to a shine. I have gone through various stages of dull, less dull and very dull again. I have tried several polishing compounds and tried polishing by hand and with a dremmel (felt polishing pads) I have watched quite a few tutorials and read so many ‘how to’ guides, it always looks very straightforward. Can you (or anyone else?) please suggest what I am doing wrong? Thank you.

      1. Hi Katherine, I’m unable to make my sanded pieces shine ☹️ The resin was clear when it dried then became dull (as expected) when I worked through the grades of sandpaper. Polishing it up to a shine just isn’t happening for me. Thank you for your help with this.

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