I believe Bruce only wants to clean and polish his barrel, not hone it. I just wrap 0000 steel wool around a brass bore brush on my cleaning rod powered by a 1/4 or 3/8 inch drill. No more plastic,or anything in my barrel. In 30 to 45 seconds it's better than new. This will not in anyway harm your barrel. I have cleaned some barrels more than 300 times this way. They just get eaiser to clean.
Anything more than wrapping a wooden dowel with scotch brite material and spinning it slow in a drill is a job for a pro with the correct equipment. A lot of damage is done to barrels with ahem "jury rigged" outfits. You need a Sunnen hone or something equivelent to do the job right. Flame suit on for all you guys who have perfected your own barrels.
When I hone a barrel, I use the hones available from Brownell's. They work well to remove the majority of tool marks. They are not really made to change the internal dimensions of the bore. If you buy the whole set and blow out both the coarse and fine hones, you might remove .001".
This is a time consuming project, and I would only use up a set of hones on a barrel with chatter marks. I have rarely had to do this with a good barrel. Often, aftermarket work is the cause of chatter marks. I have seen pretty rough forcing cones on some domestic shotguns from the factory.
If the barrel is ported, I generally wrap a tired bore brush with #1 or #0 steel wool and lap the bore for a few minutes. You can tell when you have removed fouling and some tool marks when the effort of the drill is reduced.
When using steel wool, I generally finish up with #00. Finer wool will eventually remove fouling, but has so little abrasive action that it is mainly useful as a polisher.
I typically do this to slick up the bore, reduce wad fouling, and make the bore and chokes easier to clean. I do insist on a relatively smooth chamber, for proper function when it is heavily fouled.
If the chokes and bore collect excessive fouling, choke performance and patterning can be affected.
It seems my personal guns have harder breaks after honing or polishing. At the least, bores are much easier to clean. I use Claybusters, mainly because they are the cheapest wad I can get locally. Shipping quickly makes some wads too expensive to use.
As a post script, I formerly used Scotch Brite, but the high cost considering the amount I use caused me to switch over to steel wool a while back.
Polishing involved cutting metal with a very fine abrasive. Even a highly polished barrel will show high and low ridges where the metal was removed (machine marks) under a microscope. Honing involves using something softer than the metal to push these microscopic tool marks down. Hard leather makes a good honing material but it will not polish metal.
Pat, You might be confusing the process of honing vs burnishing. Honing removes material by abrasive action. Burnishing compresses the microscopic ridges down by applying pressure to the surface using a tool that is harder then the object you want to burnish.
Toolmaker is right. I've honed many freshly bored cylinders and it does make the hole bigger so I had to measure as I went along to get to the size needed. I dont believe you can change the surface of metal without removing some with the exception of burnishing but even then you can end up removing some metal if you keep at it. I cringe everytime I read some gunrag that says to polish it up to get rid of the tool marks but don't remove any metal. LOL but not really funny.
I bought a Korean hammer single-shot at a gun show because it had such a crude bore, the worst I'd ever seen. My inductive chronograph said the shot-speeds it produced were unusually slow.
I went through it with successive grades of fine emery cloth mounted on split dowel rods, ending with an hour or two with crocus cloth. It now looked like the best bore in the world. The chronograph said, however, that it was still just as slow as it had been at the start.
I clean my buildup using a brass wire brush in a drill. I use some stuff called RB-40, spread a few drops on the brush and a few drops in the bore. Then I spin the brush in the bore, back and forth a few turns with the drill, just enough to spread the juice, then I let set for 5 minutes or so. Then I go back with the brush and work it back and forth with about 15-20 strokes. Then I clean the bore with a patch and it is nice and bright. If not I repeat the process.
The Korean barrel Neil has was slow both before and after polishing the bore, showed no change in velocity readings. I'd guess it has a bad forcing cone in addition? This allows gas to pass the base wad! Velocity has to be affected as well as patterning quality. I had a bad forcing cone job on my TM-1 and it practically ruined my formerly good shooting gun till the cone was trued and polished smooth! At that time, I also read all I could find about internal smoothness and polished the entire barrel bore. It then shot even better patterns than before I had the (great idea) of messing with internal dimensions!