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Argentium silver and copper mass finishing


#1

Hi all, would like some input about mass finishing I have been
considering. I am pretty much a one off jeweler, and in all my shop
experience have never been exposed to mass finishing techniques.
Lately I’ve been in a more production mode and polishing is such a
time consuming pain.I purchased Hochs book but it did not answer all
my questions. Alot of my current work is a combination of Argentium
silver and copper ( who knew I would be working with copper? As a
bench jeweler in fine jewelry, I never even touched silver, only
gold, for 15 years…times change!)

Anyway, can the silver and copper be tumble polished together? Being
unsure of my current direction in producing/ marketing this jewelry,
I wish to limit my investment. I am considering a vibratory tumbler,
but as part of my work are cuff bracelets I would like to get one
that might be able to accommodate them. Hoch recommends a 6 liter
TV25. I don’t see that in Rio catalogue but similar sized units
elsewhere are $300-$500; more than I want to spend, at least till I
know what works for me. I noticed that Harbor Freight has one in
current sale flyer for $150. 6 lt. 18# capacity with drain hose. Any
one have any experience with that? I know Harbor Freight; you usually
get what you pay for…low end imported, cheap tools. On the other
hand I have gotten fine service out of large drill press and ban saws
from there. ( also their $10 air brush!! I use it to spray stuff I
would never put in my good Badger air brush.I considered it
disposable, but it keeps on working.)

I kinda like the sound of tumbling with steel shot for the
burnishing and work hardening effects too. But like I said before, I
am one off or a short series of mostly earrings, with dangling
components that I like to finish and put on wall in front of me to
prove I actually accomplished something today. Not sure I will be
able to collect a week or twos work and then tumble them all at
once. I am used to the instant gratification that makes us boomers
who we are…good or bad. Do I want my cake and eat it too?

Any recommendations?
April, in sunny Arizona


#2

Hi Stu and April

can the silver and copper be tumble polished together? Being unsure
of my current direction in producing/ marketing this jewelry, I
wish to limit my investment. I am considering a vibratory tumbler,
but as part of my work are cuff bracelets I would like to get one
that might be able to accommodate them. Hoch recommends a 6 liter
TV25. I don't see that in Rio catalogue but similar sized units
elsewhere are $300-$500; more than I want to spend, at least till
I know what works for me. 

Yes you can tumble silver and copper together, also other metals can
be mixed in a vibratory tumbler. Since much of my work is mixed
metals, I have a lot of experience with mixing them. The only place
I’ve learned to separate metals in mass finishing is in a magnetic
pin finisher. If you mix silver and gold pieces, you will sometimes
get plating back and forth when burnishing. I don’t have that problem
though when the workpieces are each made of mixed metals. I am
similarly cautious about mixing gold and silver in a small rotary
tumbler.

You may have a rather different problem with the copper and
Argentium however. The literature on Argentium cautions against
mixing conventional sterling and Argentium. I suspect that there may
also be an issue when you use copper. It might impact the
anti-tarnish surface of the Argentium. I’m not the expert on the
interaction of Argentium with copper. I do, however, successfully mix
Argentium with karat gold.

Raytech has quit making the TV25. the AV-25SS is their alternative,
and Rios order number 202170. It is essentially the same machine
except for a nuisance plug in the bowl. Rio offers the Goodvibe
tumbler, same capacity for about $300US.

I noticed that Harbor Freight has one in current sale flyer for
$150. 6 lt. 18# capacity with drain hose. Any one have any
experience with that? 

Try the Harbor Freight tumbler - it will work for a while. I’ve just
learned my lesson about cheap tools, you get to buy the good ones
eventually. And if you don’t like the good tools, they do retain some
value in the resale market, unlike Harbor Freight. That tumbler is
not listed in their online catalog so I can’t verify clearance for
your cuff bracelets. The bowl needs to be big enough for the
bracelets to turn freely in the media.

I kinda like the sound of tumbling with steel shot for the
burnishing and work hardening effects too. But like I said before,
I am one off or a short series of mostly earrings, with dangling
components that I like to finish and put on wall in front of me to
prove I actually accomplished something today. Not sure I will be
able to collect a week or twos work and then tumble them all at
once. I am used to the instant gratification that makes us boomers
who we are...good or bad. Do I want my cake and eat it too? Any
recommendations? 

April - the steel shot run is about 30 minutes, longer doesn’t help.
Depending on what I’m finishing, most of my things have a run cycle
of 4 hours for deburring (fabricated work) and 30 minutes for
burnishing. I can’t imagine saving up two weeks work. If you are
casting, the runs will depend on the quality of your casting.

I use my tumblers all the time - and I am not a production jeweler.
Very seldom do I ever turn on my big buff. The biggest nuisance
about tumbling is finding the workpieces in the media. Since I’m too
tight to buy the fancy tumble dump systems, I’ve learned to tie bitty
parts together so they come out in a string. For larger pieces, I
often put them on brightly colored electrical ties. Write down how
many elements you need to retrieve. When they are done, put on a
rubber glove and while the vibratory tumbler is running, go fish. It
is a lot quicker than unscrewing the bowl, dumping into the
separator, shaking, replacing the bowl and media, and refastening it.

Judy Hoch


#3
many elements you need to retrieve. When they are done, put on a
rubber glove and while the vibratory tumbler is running, go fish.
It is a lot quicker than unscrewing the bowl, dumping into the
separator, shaking, replacing the bowl and media, and refastening
it. 

Judy, I have a question relating to your description (above). Does
it assume that you have a flow-through system? If not, do you just
leave the same water/soap mix in the bowl for long periods of time,
put in “new” elements occasionally, and just rinse each element
separately after you fish it out?

I always rinse off everything (media, elements, bowl) at the end of
a vibratory tumbling session and start anew. If there’s a more
time-saving way of doing things, I’m all in favor of it. (I use my
vibratory tumbler with a plastic or ceramic medium for smoothing off
the edges of sawn pieces – that’s a real time-saver, compared to
filing and other abrading methods.)

While I’m at it, here’s another question. Any hints on how to cut
down on the noise that vibratory tumblers make? I have a Gy-Roc and
it’s sitting on the floor, on a thick woven door-mat (to keep it from
"walking" around). Presumably, that also muffles a little of the
noise. But I still find the noise irritating.

Thanks!
Judy Bjorkman


#4
While I'm at it, here's another question. Any hints on how to cut
down on the noise that vibratory tumblers make? I have a Gy-Roc
and it's sitting on the floor, on a thick woven door-mat (to keep
it from "walking" around). Presumably, that also muffles a little
of the noise. But I still find the noise irritating. 

My vibratory machine (and tumblers) live in a box made out of spare
sheet rock, rubber gasket on the door and every thing else I could
think of to contain the noise. I made the box big enough that I can
even add an inner layer of sheet rock. A pretty good at least 1/2
solution, the other half is to run it at night when I am out of the
studio :slight_smile:

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#5
many elements you need to retrieve. When they are done, put on a
rubber glove and while the vibratory tumbler is running, go fish.
It is a lot quicker than unscrewing the bowl, dumping into the
separator, shaking, replacing the bowl and media, and refastening
it. 
I have a question relating to your description (above). Does it
assume that you have a flow-through system? If not, do you just
leave the same water/soap mix in the bowl for long periods of
time, put in "new" elements occasionally, and just rinse each
element separately after you fish it out? 
I always run a flow thru system. 

The set up works like this: For anything smallish, I either hook
them together with electrical ties, or stainless steel wire. You do
need to force the pieces to separate. Don’t just string them like
beads. For example, string them on wire (stainless for sure), then
give the first one a good twist, move the next one and inch or so
away and twist the wire to hold it. Close the wire carefully so that
you don’t leave a scratchy end out there. Medium sized pieces are
tied together with some kind of tie. I’m still using stuff from a
giant box of assorted ties that I got years ago. 10,000 ties go a
long way.

Write down how many strings of stuff you have.

To elaborate on how I end a run -

While the tumbler is still running, I slightly open the flow valve.
This loosens the media so that with my purple plastic glove, I can go
and fish out the pieces in the media. When I’ve found them all, I
count again and dump them in a rinsing bowl. Then I open the flow all
the way by removing the valve entirely. The tumbler is still running.
As it starts to fill because it can’t drain fast enough, I wait til
the last minute and then turn off the pump. I let the tumbler run for
30 seconds to a minute, then shut it down. The media is rinsed and
I’m ready for the next run. I change out the liquid every week in the
summer, and a bit less often in the winter. Or if I forget, when it
gets stinky. I’ve discovered some media generate some organic
compounds in the rinse liquid that get really gross when I leave them
sit.

I always rinse off everything (media, elements, bowl) at the end
of a vibratory tumbling session and start anew. If there's a more
time-saving way of doing things, I'm all in favor of it. (I use my
vibratory tumbler with a plastic or ceramic medium for smoothing
off the edges of sawn pieces -- that's a real time-saver, compared
to filing and other abrading methods.) 

Judy - if you are running a closed wet system, you are doing it
exactly right. I don’t even save the liquid in a rotary tumbler from
run to run.

While I'm at it, here's another question. Any hints on how to cut
down on the noise that vibratory tumblers make? I have a Gy-Roc
and it's sitting on the floor, on a thick woven door-mat (to keep
it from "walking" around). Presumably, that also muffles a little
of the noise. But I still find the noise irritating. 

I’m afraid that the things are noisy. In my old location, I kept a
big vibratory tumbler in the garage because I couldn’t deal with the
racket. I often ran it at night - during the supper hours and turned
it off before I went to bed. When I built my new studio, I made a
separate room with a floor drain (the things do leak sometimes) and a
door. It is the best answer I’ve found.

I have nine tumblers in my dirty, wet, noisy room - that’s it’s
name. Most folks would be sane and only have a couple of them. All
sit on individual benches that are made for each one. They are just
plywood with holes for water in and out and sit over their five
gallon bucket. It is easy to reconfigure the machines when they each
have their own stand. While I think the machines are quieter sitting
on the floor, my old bones don’t like crawling down on the floor,
thus the little stands. I also have an old stainless restaurant sink
that is five feet long, and my wet drum sander and split lap and buff
in that room. It pretty well confines the mess and noise. The room is
crowded, but if it was bigger, I’d put more stuff in it and my studio
work space would be smaller.

Judy Hoch


#6
Any hints on how to cut down on the noise that vibratory tumblers
make? 

I made a box of 1/2" birch plywood to cover my tumbler when in
action, and it works pretty well.

Allan


#7
While I'm at it, here's another question. Any hints on how to cut
down on the noise that vibratory tumblers make? 

I have mine sitting on a double-folded foam yoga mat that I got at a
thrift store for about $2. It cuts way down on the rumbling noise
that the base makes. Doesn’t do much for the rattling sound of the
shot in the bowl, but I can live with that if I’m not in the same
room with it. I run my tumbler in the laundry room so it’s near the
sink, so “having” to stay out of that room for a day is a blessing!

Kathy Johnson
Feathered Gems Jewelry
www.featheredgems.com


#8

Any hints on how to cut down on the noise that vibratory tumblers
make?

I made a box of 1/2" birch plywood to cover my tumbler when in
action, and it works pretty well. 

I would be cautious about covering a vibe. It may cause overheating.
In the winter I cover my vibes with upside down storage tubs to keep
them from freezing. If you are enclosing them at room temperature be
sure and provide vent holes or build your enclosure big enough so
the heat will dissipate. Just about every vibe tumbler manufacture
warns against covering them.

Putting them on a concrete floor or putting a couple layers of
carpet and/or padding under them will help. Or just keep your vibe
tumblers in another part of the house or garage. I have heard of
people who live in apartments put their tumblers in the closet to
muffle the noise.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
rockymountainwonders.com


#9

Hello;

Any hints on how to cut down on the noise that vibratory tumblers
make? 

I upend a 5 gallon plastic bucket over mine. Much better. I have
collected 5 of the 12 dozen egg crate stackers used by egg
producers. They’re made of a paper mache. I plan to line the sides
and top of a box with them and upend THAT! Should be very quiet. Judy
in Kansas, where it’s been a gray cold day.


#10

Thanks to all of you offered suggestions on how to cut down on the
noise of a vibratory tumbler! I placed a large plastic storage box
over mine, and even just that was definitely helpful. It was not a
tight fit (since my Gy-Roc is sitting on a woven mat). After a couple
of hours of running abrasive media, it was warm under the box when I
removed it, but not dangerously so, IMO. I’ll keep experimenting with
add-ons (pile of newspapers, old blanket, styrofoam pieces) to see if
any additional noise can be subverted.

In the summer, I’ll take the tumbler out to the garage (the water’s
turned off there, for the winter).

Thanks again! --Judy Bjorkman


#11

You might try using the convoluted foam padding with the peaks such
as you’ll find in gun cases, bow cases, and other cases used for
packing items temporarily. You can see an example of it here:

http://www.foamorder.com/custom_cuts.php?product=packing &shape=12.

In an anechoic chamber the chamber is lined with sharp pyramids to
absorb the sound. Perhaps the convoluted packing foam can help in a
similar manner and reduce apparent sound.

Mike DeBurgh, GJG
Henderson, NV