Burnishing is a process of making an object shiny by using friction and pressure. Often items are burnished by rubbing and there are many types of burnishing tools that use spinning disks with burnishing pads to increase the shine. Traditionally, burnishing differed from polishing in that no polishes were used. However, some industries do use burnishing polishes so the distinction is less clear than it used to be.
Clean the object you are going to burnish. Wash the item (with soap and water when possible) and remove all dirt. Make sure the object is dry before beginning the burnishing process.
Select a buff or burnisher appropriate for the task in size and material. A traditional buff is softened, undyed leather. Many other types of buffs are used today; most are made of fibers and are mounted on machines or power tools for easy use.
Use a power drill, rotary tool or floor burnisher with a commercial pad to burnish most surfaces. The burnishing is accomplished by the consistent rubbing of the surface to bring up the shine.
Rub with a handheld buff over the surface of the object. This will remove the finest amount of the old surface due to friction and with some buffs, the natural moisture (sometimes oils) in the buff will lubricate like a type of polish.
Wrap undyed leather around the hand with the rough side out for hand burnishing small sculptures or other intricate small objects. This is a natural buff that can be used to burnish anything from marble statues to jewelry. Rub firmly along the surface to produce the shine.