How to Polish the Top of Petrified Wood

By Mason Howard

The beauty of a piece of fossilized wood, known as petrified wood, lies in the preserved grain, color and texture as well as the sense of antiquity that the artifact exudes. Admirers of petrified wood commonly turn it into a gleaming tabletop or a work of art by polishing its surface. Because the petrifaction process displaced all of its organic matter, petrified wood does not require sealing products for finishing. The stone-like composition does, however, require an abrasion technique to create a smooth, shiny surface.

List of Items Needed

  • C-clamps
  • Wet/dry rotary polisher
  • Spray bottle
  • 50-grit wet diamond-grit polishing pad
  • 120-grit wet diamond-grit polishing pad
  • 220-grit wet diamond-grit polishing pad
  • 400-grit wet diamond-grit polishing pad
  • 800-grit wet diamond-grit polishing pad
  • 1800-grit wet diamond-grit polishing pad
  • 3500-grit wet diamond-grit polishing pad
  • Cerium oxide or tin oxide polishing compound
  • Rotary tool
  • Felt buffing wheel
  1. Secure the piece of petrified wood to a work surface with clamps, placing the side to be polished up.

  2. Equip a wet/dry rotary polisher or buffer with a 50-grit wet diamond-grit polishing pad. Spray the surface of the petrified wood with water.

  3. Rough-sand the entire surface thoroughly with the 50-grit pad. Hold the spinning pad flat against the surface and move it continuously back and forth and around to remove all scratches.

  4. Follow the 50-grit pad with a 120-grit pad. Continue spraying the wood with water as needed to keep the surface wet. Follow the 120-grid pad buffing with a 220-grit pad.

  5. Dry the wood and examine the surface for any remaining scratches. Continue wet sanding, if necessary, to remove remaining scratches.

  6. Continue polishing, gradually switching to pads with finer grits. Follow the 220-grit pad with a 400-grit pad followed by 800-, 1800- then 3500-grit pads. Wipe down the wood with a cloth once you're finished.

  7. Stir water gradually into powdered cerium oxide or tin oxide polishing compound until a thick, paste-like consistency forms.

  8. Secure a felt buffing wheel into the chuck of a rotary tool. Coat the wheel with the cerium oxide or tin oxide polishing paste. Move the coated, spinning wheel around the wood slowly, applying gentle pressure, until the surface is fully covered with the paste.

  9. Leave the paste to dry, then rinse it away with water. Dry the petrified wood.

© Demand Media 2011