Dremel polishing wheels. By Highline Guitars. 4:38 video:
Luthier's thumb plane - video
I'd think using sandpaper to eliminate the bumps would also load the felt with abrasive grains that are going to mess up the fine finish. Something like a Surform rasp or a clean/new file would be better as far as that goes, if it will work. Haven't tried it yet, but was planning on making some of my own since I have some 1" wide x1/2" thick felt that was left over from machine seals at my former employer's maintenance shop. The stuff was cut to fit from longer than necessary strips. I figure a piece of black iron pipe with a sharp edge ground on it, and a pipe cap to hammer on will get the circles cut just fine, and a little care in drilling will avoid much of the out-of-round problem. You could also make burlap or cotton canvas wheels, sewn or loose, with a circle-cutter punch and a stitch-awl.
Anyone who does serious buffing/polishing knows you need different wheels for each kind of compound you use. If you use a red rouge wheel with emery compound, it will never give you a fine polish again.
Those things said, it's a great idea to make your own. You can chose the type of material you want for the kind of work you're doing, and get a great finish. There are hundreds of kinds of felt, and many other materials that will work well for buffing and polishing if you don't mind a little bit of prep work before getting to the main event. You can even do it for large wheels.
TheElderBrother (May 9, 2021)
I'd be more inclined to use a razor knife and carefully slice the adhesive backing off the things before I tried stacking them up and loading them with any kind of polishing medium. That sticky stuff will prevent you getting the most useful life out of the wheels and end up forcing you to change felt four times as often as if you get rid of the adhesive. And I have to figure a lutier would not want a bunch of sticky stuff getting into his work, especially on old guitars and such.
Also, and your mileage may vary, I stick a pair of tiny thin washers I punched out of a steel can lid (I used steel from the lid of a can of corned beef hash but kidney beans will work in a pinch...) and sandwich my felt pads between them on the mandrel. One time I even cut a shirt notch in the washers and bent down one side of the roughly 1/16" notch to act like a little tooth so that the felt didn't slip between the washers. You line that single tooth up on opposite sides so that, just to illustrate, the bottom washer cuts into the felt at 12:00 and the cop washer cuts in at 6:00.
That may be a lot of extra work, and the juice may genuinely not be worth the squeeze, but you only need to do it once, and the washers are only about 1/4", maybe 5/16" across on a one inch felt wheel, and they help the screw get a firm grip on the polishing medium.
I love Dremels. I'm a knifemaker in a wheelchair-accessible workshop so my Dremel is a frequent help in my work.
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