What am I doing wrong?

Ok so I’ve been trying to learn how to sand and polish a yoyo with no good results. I’ve tried as many methods on here as I could find and even watched the modfather video. Nothing works like what if even seen. My latest attempt was starting with 80 grit wet and then 150 wet and then 220 wet and then 300 wet and finally 600 wet. After that I used 0000 steel wool for a while and then used my dremel to apply nevrdull as ace was out of mothers but jhb said he got the same results. This resulted in the same satin finish I’ve been getting. Its like a oxidized wash, no streaks. But dull and just not mirror like at all. Not even close. What the heck im I doing wrong. its a Duncan drifter. Is the metal bad? Is it because im using a dremel on it’s lowest setting. About 5000 rpm. Help please

Does it feel pitted? Does it only appear when you begin the polishing process? Also I don’t think the Metal Drifter is made out of a very high quality Aluminum, maybe chemical reaction to a seal Duncan puts on the yoyo?

Sounds ok to me, though you don’t really need to start with 80. 600 alone is ok. i get good results with only 600 and polish. When time is an issue, i’ll easy off the ano.

I may be the lesser quality aluminum that duncan uses.

Yes, skip the low grits. 300 then 600 would be my take. It almost looks like you’re loading up the sand paper or maybe getting the surface too hot. Keep it really wet. Don’t press too hard.

A few things…

  1. Dremels aren’t great for this… they spin too fast. If I’m polishing on a lathe, it’s running at under 500 RPM… you’re at 10x that. If you can find a drill you’d be much better off.

  2. The general rule for what grit you need… you only need the roughest grit required to take out the deepest mark in the yo-yo. If it is already a smooth finish with no serious gouges in it, you don’t need to start with 80… you can start with 120, 220 or even 300 depending on how nice the finish is to begin with.

  3. Move the paper more. You are ‘loading it’ which means you’re allowing the grit of the sandpaper to fill with gunk as you polish, and you’re smashing that back into the surface. Once the sandpaper starts to look ‘dirty’ in a spot, change the area you are using… that means pretty much constantly repositioning the sandpaper. Sanding wet helps this, but it doesn’t prevent it entirely. Every once in a while, you can kinda brush the sandpaper off with a rag or something to knock some of that away so that it lasts longer, but you’ll still go through sandpaper pretty quickly.

  4. The metal used in the cheap Duncan stuff is awful… it’s gummy and horrible, very low grade. It can absolutely be polished to a very high shine, but it’s not as easy as some others may be.

  5. Make sure that you are moving the sandpaper back and forth -constantly- across the surface, otherwise you’ll get grooves in your finish that can be difficult to remove. You don’t have to move it super fast, just a constant -even- side to side motion across the metal as it spins.

To repair that finish… first, clean it. Soap/water should probably be fine… you just want to get as much of the dirt, grim and polish off of the surface as you can. There are chemicals that can do this very well, but they’re toxic/flammable and not worth the effort.

Next, start with something like 120 and start again… make sure to follow the guides above. This ‘should’ start to give you a nice even finish. If you still have pitted marks, you may need something rougher to get those out so it may be back down to 80 again… but I think 120 will work fine.

DO NOT MOVE ON TO THE NEXT GRIT before you have a finish you like. The surface should be clean, it should be even, it should look like a beautiful satin finish at the rougher grits, and a beautiful polish at the higher grits. Once the surface is perfectly uniform, you can step up to the next grit. Polishing takes -time- more than anything. You can’t rush it or the results will always be awful.

Good luck :slight_smile:


No it doesnt feel pitted at all. Smooth as ice. It does appear as soon as the paper hits the yoyo.

The reason for starting with 80 was to smooth out a heck of a lot of scratches and a few lite dings.

I was wondering if it was getting to hot because the yoyo is very warm to the touch. I was wondering if it was oxyding the yoyo. I was pressing a little hard but wasn’t getting any results by pressing lightly at all. The dremel slows down a lot when any pressure is applied. I dont have a drill but was wondering if the increase in speed a dremel provides, at its lowest setting, is what’s causing the heat. I kept it wet as much as possible. I dipped the paper in a small tupperware under the yoyo and ran my fingers wet over the yoyo to get the black from the shavings and paper to come off. All in all it was really wet all the time.

Try washing it off.

Oh, also make sure the sandpaper you are using is designed to be used wet… not all are and those that can be are marked as such.


The problem is you’re using the steel wool too long. Only use it long enough to make the satin more fine. Too long and it will result in that texture, and you would have to sand again. To remove that texture, just satin again with something like 400 grit. For something as fast as a dremel, you would have to be even more careful with both sanding and using the steel wool. And as Kyo said, the sandpaper has to be designed for wetsanding.

Ok I will retry tonight spirit. I didn’t know you could over use the wool. Had it on there lightly for 20 min or so. It just seamed to get worse.

Yeah, that’s the problem. I only leave it on for around 10 secs.

The quality of the metal isn’t the problem. Duncan’s metals aren’t that cheap. The Metal Drifter is made of 6061 aluminum, so the material isn’t the problem.

Prove that. I’ve made a heck of a lot of 6061 aluminum yo-yos, and I’ve modded/polished/worked with thousands more… sure doesn’t look like 6061 to me.

They upgraded the metal on the original metal zero from the absolute godawful stuff they started with, but it’s still pretty bad… and it seems to be the same stuff they’re using on everything else.


To be fair, my Drifter polished just fine, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is made from a quality alloy.

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Ok so we are finally getting somewhere. Black washy wash gone but now I got lines. But definite improvement. Here is 2 pics of where its at now after taking spirits advise and some others. I hit it with 220 then with 600, then buffing wheel, then 10 to 15 secs of wool, then mothers mag (which I finally found) with a buffing wheel. The second pic is a request of many on how I attached my yoyo to a dremel. this is my prototype yoyo rotary attachment tool. I will be making these and will let anyone know when they are available as requested. They will attach most yoyos to rotary tools such as dremels, drills, and lathes. No need to mess up an axle. Anyway… Lines are still a problem. Found out my 220 is not a wet sandpaper and my 600 is waterproof so … Where do I find wet sandpaper above 300. Ace, Lowes, and home depot, Walmart does not have them.

Wow, that tis a huge improvement!

You still have the lines because you skipped from 220 to 600, you still have to sand with 400. You can find this grit at walmart, but you have to look around quite a bit.

the drifter is made from a 5000 series aluminum. Most quality are made from a 6000 or 7000 series aluminum. Like Kyo I’ve made and polished a lot of yoyo’s. The softer 5000 series aluminum is more delicate. Takes more practice and attention to detail to get a good polish. I’ve done it but I’d rather work with better aluminum.

Yes, always use a different screw as an axle replacement for any such work. Sorry, it’s not a new concept. Been done for a long time by experienced modders.

Try an auto parts store. They usually have a large selection of wet/dry paper and other refinishing supplies. Sometimes Ace will have it.

Well I am a moderate modder and still learning but not new. New to stripping, most definitely. As far as I know (which you probably know more) I’ve never seen a bolt like this. Axles won’t fit in dremels. Not by a long shot. 4mm bolts are too big.
While some may say not to use a dremel, for some of us, its easier then a $500 lathe. Just takes more skill and I like that part better. I will no doubt get a good skill learning the hard way. Thats just how I learn. The pic I took of the bolt is hard to see that it accually tapers. Its 4mm on the screw side and 1/8 dremel shaft on the other. Thats why ive never seen a bolt like this.

I haven’t tried an auto parts store. The only one around is advance auto parts and I called and they have wetordry by 3m. Is waterproof sandpaper the same as wet sandpaper. That may be a stupid question but it seams to me if it was wet sandpaper it would utilize the water to help sand, not be waterproof. I don’t know. Anyways thanks for the tip on the autoparts store. Spirit told me that one too on the mothers mag but I still haven’t gone to an auto store. Stubbon I guess. More updates to come.