see also Rags

Buffing furthers the process of smoothing the polish on polishable boots to provide a smooth surface by exerting pressure on the polish surface with a smooth cloth. The friction and motion of the buffing action flattens the polish surface and evens the thickness of the polish shell.

There are a number of types of cloth which are appropriate in certain situations. Buff cloths should be very soft 100% cotton; synthetic materials may bind to the polish and strip it off of the boot. Common fabrics include brushed twill, cotton jersey (T-shirt material), and terrycloth. Certain fabrics may not work well with certain boots. For example, some new boots (particularly combat-style boots) are made from leather that possesses very sharp edges and corners, which will snag brushed twill and terry cloth, accumulating lint. In such a case, a smooth jersey material will produce much less lint. Likewise, some leather develops a better shine with certain materials. Which fabrics work best with which leathers is affected strongly by an individual's technique, so determining which fabric to use is a matter of trial and error.

Buffing can be done two ways. Both methods are effective at producing a good shine, but method one is more appropriate for shining boots in-hand, while method two is more appropriate for shining boots that are being worn by another person.

Method One involves wrapping the cloth around the tips of one's index and middle fingers and buffing in small circular motions. It is generally advisable to moisten the cloth slightly, as this will reduce the amount of polish that adheres to the fabric. Circles should be made briskly, with firm pressure. In each area being buffed, the shine should cloud momentarily, then return. At this point, the buffing can move on to a different area. The part of the cloth being used should be changed regularly, as the cloth will become saturated with polish. Remember to re-moisten the cloth when changing the position.

Method Two uses a long narrow strip of fabric held taut between the hands and drawn back and forth along the surface of the leather. In this method, the leather should be dampened (either by misting with a spray bottle, by spitting, or by licking, if one is so inclined). Hold the cloth very taut. This will accomplish two things. First, it will increase the force exerted on the polish surface. Second, it will reduce the area of contact between the cloth and the leather. This is important as too much contact will increase the overall friction on the cloth, keeping the speed of the cloth too low to properly accomplish the shine. To that end, one should also be sure not to allow the cloth to wrap around the contours of the boot too much. Instead, move both hands at the same time, changing the angle of the cloth to move the point of contact.

Draw the cloth back and forth rapidly, with no significant pause between strokes. This will take some practice before it feels natural. Different orientations of the hands and cloth should allow most areas of the boot to be buffed. Any areas that are hard to reach with the taut cloth (the lower inside instep, for example) can be buffed using method one.

High-gloss leather can benefit from an additional buffing step following either method one or two. Using a piece of nylon (stockings, pantyhose, and trouser socks are good sources. Be sure that the fabric content is as pure nylon as possible; 100% is ideal. Many stockings and pantyhose use a small percentage of lycra, which should be minimizes as much as possible), buff lightly over the entire surface of the boot, paying specific attention to the toe and heel caps. The nylon should produce a very slight, but noticeable, sharpening of the shine.