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Greaseless Compounds or Grease based?

I have an 1100 rpm buffer with 6" cotton wheels (sewn and loose) and I'm currently using Caswell's Large Buffing Compound Kit. I bought the compound about 11 years ago and just recently tried to use it and I feel that it's simply too old and needs to be replaced. I've seen a few videos of people restoring blades and most seem to use greaseless compounds. What is the difference between greaseless and the compound that I'm using? I noticed that in the videos the greaseless is doing a MUCH better job than what I have. But what I have might just be too old to do anything (11 years sitting and the cardboard box).

I want to replace my old compound with new but don't know whether to stay with the type I have or move to greaseless. What are the pros and cons to each?
I buy abrasive compounds based on grit vs task.
Coarse grits for heavier work, finer abrasives for polishing.
Can't remove pitting with red rouge, can't get a mirror polish with 80x greaseless.
Greaseless I used was available in 80x through 600x.
Chromox is something like 30,000x.
Have had grease based Chromox, also had other types, glue based, oil based, wax based, etc; all technically greaseless but not really what one would refer to as a greaseless compound.
There are some other technical points but it's really a 'what do you want to do' sorta equation.
I recently started buffing. After reading a lot of info, I bought same type as you, but only black, white, and green. I hand finish scales. I do plan to try 600 greaseless soon.

I just finished a razor hand sanding 400 through 1000 grit, then buffed - black, white, green.


Greased compounds are finer and made with grease, tallow binder. Greaseless are water based binder with way more aggressive grits.

Greaseless compound removes a lot of material, but also will wash out all sharp edges and detail.

Read Castwell’s buffing tutorial for more detailed information.

But if you are hand sanding to 600 grit Wet & Dry, you might have much better results if you simply go to Green Stainless Steel compound from an even 600 grit finish. You can use White compound After green stainless.

If your compound is old, it will develop a skin, just sand the end with some 220 to get past the skin, then apply to the wheel.

4-inch wheel will run slower and get in the hollow of a razor. You can use a 6-inch wheel but will need to angle the razor about 45 degrees to access the hollow.

White or blue compound will brighten a Stainless finish, use a minimal of compound a loose wheel works better for final finish than a sewn wheel.

I have greased compounds that are more than 20-30 years old and work just fine.

Castwells How To Buff And Polish
So if I understand correctly, the greaseless compounds are more aggressive than the 'greased' compounds. I bought Caswell's Large Buffing Compound Kit but only used the black, green, and white (in that order). I did that after hand sanding up to 2500 grit wet/dry. My starting paper depended on the condition of the blade. So the greaseless compound would simply take the place of the hand sanding and I would finish with the black, green, and white?

I was watching Straight Razor Restoration: Start to Finish on YouTube and was really impressed with how clean the greaseless 80 grit got the razor. I've hand sanded till I thought my arm would fall off and never got that good of a result! I figure since I already have the buffer I might as well leverage it as best I can and add greaseless to my arsenal. I noticed that he started with greaseless, moved from 80 grit to 600 grit, then moved to black then white polishing compound.

When I bought my buffer and compound (over 10 years ago) I didn't understand the difference between greaseless and greased compounds, I simply thought it was a matter of preference. I'm starting to see that's not quite the case.
If you want to remove material, you need a lower grit.
Lower grits are typically 'greaseless'.
Pick the grit for the task at hand.
It's not no grease vs grease. It's task vs grit.
Yes, Greaseless compound are way more aggressive. If you are hand sanding to 2500 grit wet and dry, you should be near mirror finish. What are you using for a backer?

From 2500 wet and dry finish you should be able to skip the black greased and go to the Green Stainless compound on a sewn wheel and finish on White with a loose (unsewn) wheel for a very high gloss.

Note, the finish on the Puma is not a 2500 grit, or even 1k finish, there is a lot of deep 400 stria on that finish, again 2500 and 1k should be mirror or near mirror.

When hand sanding you must remove all the previous grit scratches with each grit, or you will see them at the end. You must sand in both directions to remove all previous grit stria.

I always start with 1k or 600 grit Wet & Dry and rarely go coarser. I do now buy razors in way better condition than I used to or will leave some pitting. Mostly I am buying much better razors without damage.

No, greaseless will not replace hand-sanding. Greaseless can quickly remove a lot of damage/pitting, but it will also remove a lot of detail and crisp edges.

Greaseless will also heat up a razor and you do run the risk of overheating, buff with bare hands to monitor the heat.
You need to, decide if you want to keep detail, (tang stamps) and crisp edges or risk removing them to remove damage.

A greaseless buffed razor or knife will always look “over buffed” with detail smoothed or washed out. High end Knife makers hand sand if they want a mirror or true satin finish.

That video is a very old video, back when guys were trying to figure restoration out. Look at the blade before any work and the finished razor, yes, it is shiny, but all the crisp edges, detail and much of the stamp is gone.

The trick to hand sanding is using the correct backer, good sandpaper and switch paper often when it stops cutting. Also decide early on, (at purchase) how much pitting you are willing to put up with, (leave) or willing to remove.

Watch the Nick Wheeler, Hand sanding 101 video for a step by step, how to.

I have all the greaseless grits, but have used 600 the most, you can make 600 aggressive, (freshly loaded) or as a cleaner, almost satin finish with a barely loaded wheel, great for cleaning out jimps.

Nowadays I use a 6-inch 3m Radial Bristle Brush wheel, in place of 600 greaseless, (not scotch bright) then to a sewn wheel with Green Stainless compound.

A lot depends on what your expectations are.
Gamma, thanks for your input. I do understand that it is task based but knowing the difference between the two (grease or greaseless) helps determine which tool I need to get the results that I'm looking for.
Grinding off material requires coarse grit and polishing requires fine grit.
Coarse grits are usually in greaseless binders. We pick the grit to match the task and the binder is a given usually.
It's similar to picking a stone to hone out a chip in a blade. For a mid-size chip many will opt to get a 400x-500x stone. The binder in the stone isn't an issue so much as the grit needs to be able to handle the job in a reasonable fashion. It's sort of a default situation.

The difference between the binder materials in these compounds, grease or greaseless, is related to the tasks the abrasives are capable of or designed to do. The task determines the required grit. The required grit needs the correct binder to allow it to function as needed. I don't know if it exists but using 80x grit in a grease binder be aggravatingly inefficient when attempting to remove pitting in steel.

The difference in binders relates to whether or not the abrasive can slip/slide on the wheel's surface or the material being polished, or if the abrasive is fixed in place. Fixed is more aggressive usually.

A polishing compound in a glue-type binder won't polish to the same degree as it does when it is in a grease-binder.

Greaseless stuff usually tops out at 600x or so. The finer polishing compounds are grease based.

To remove material, we choose lower grits, and they're usually greaseless because of what they are expected to do..
For polishing, we wind up with grease-based because it polishes better.
Can't remove pitting with polishing grits and can't polish well with coarse grits.

As an aside, using greaseless can wind up dulling all of the crisp lines in the blade so the shape/design can wind up looking 'melted' when done.
A lot of people avoid greaseless because of that. I used the stuff for 6-7 months and decided to get away from it for that reason. It does well to set up a mirror polish but the original lines from the master grinder that made the blade - the stabilizer and shoulder and spine designs - they always wind up heavily compromised. I think it was @mycarver who was adamantly against using that stuff, he made some good points about it a while back.
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