What is a Shoe Buffer?

R. Kayne

An electric shoe buffer effortlessly buffs away scuffs and renews the polish on shoes to keep them looking sharp. It comes with a small but powerful, fully encased electronic motor. Driving rods at either end are fitted with replaceable conical buffers made of lamb's wool or synthetic material. Once the motor is engaged, the buffers spin to quickly and expertly shine shoes or boots. While standing in front of the buffer, simply bring the top of the shoe against the underside of the spinning device. Angling the foot allows you to polish the sides and heel.

A shoe buffer may be used to renew the polish on shoes.
A shoe buffer may be used to renew the polish on shoes.

A shoe buffer commonly has a red buffer and a black buffer. The red buffer is normally used with lighter colored shoes, and the black buffer with darker shoes. This prevents residual black polish on the buffer from transferring to a lighter shoe. The actual the color of the buffer itself is purely aesthetic. In most cases, it will come with two sets of buffers.

The conical end of a shoe buffer may be made of lamb's wool.
The conical end of a shoe buffer may be made of lamb's wool.

Buffers can be washed and dried for repeated use. When buffers begin to mat, it's time to buy a new set. Lamb's wool will resist matting, while synthetic materials are more prone to wear.

Though there are many manufacturers, models and a wide range of quality, most electric shoe buffers can be divided into two types: They can either have a handle extension topped with a power button, or a toe switch. Of the type using a handle extension, some models require that the button remain depressed to keep the buffers spinning.

The motor of a shoe buffer is arguably the most important feature. Weak motors will bog down when pressure is placed against the buffers. The quality of the motor will dictate price to a large extent, which can range from US$49 to $150 or more. A high quality buffer will also come with 100% lambs wool buffers, instead of synthetic buffers.

A shoe buffer is small enough to take on business trips, and it may be convenient to keep one at the office and one at home. For extra shine, apply a small amount of polish to the shoe before buffing.

Shoe buffers may be used on some types of leather boots.
Shoe buffers may be used on some types of leather boots.

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Discussion Comments


There are all kinds of uses for an electronic shoe buffer. Admittedly, most of them come down to buffing various other items, but it is still quite a useful thing to have around. They are usually quite hardy too, so you don't have to worry about wrecking them.

Just keep an attachment aside without polish on it and use it whenever you need to buff up the silverware or maybe take some of the scuff marks off your wallet.

Yes, shoe buffer machines can be fun.


While there is a good argument to be made for electronic shoe buffers, I still prefer to just use a regular old, people powered buffer.

Not only do I feel like I'm getting a little bit of exercise for these old wrists, it also seems like a nice traditional way to deal with older shoes.

And I know in the military there is no way they'd allow you to cheat by using an electric buffer.

If you get a travel sized buffer and slip it into your purse, you'll always have it handy in case you scuff your shoes when you are out and about.

I don't think I'd like to whip out an electric buffer in the restroom and have people wonder what the noise was, coming from my stall!

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