Buffing wheels on the lathe are charged with polishing compounds which begin to bring the polished luster to the gold. There are many grades of polishing compounds. I begin with a somewhat aggressive compound called Tripoli and end with a compound called Fabuluster. The compounds cannot be allowed to contaminate each other so I have to work with one compound at a time and thoroughly wash out the piece in between polishing grades.
This is one of the dirtiest steps in the process and my hands take a beating as the compound is ground into my fingers and my nails get polished at the same time. The compounds are often still visible on my hands several days after my polishing work. There is also constant friction and the metal piece can get hot enough to burn the hands. It is difficult to maintain a good grip on the piece if I attempt to wear gloves or some kind of hand protection. The buffing wheel is spinning at high speed and it can easily grab the piece from me sending it bouncing and banging around in the dust collector (which is not a good thing).