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Burnishing v. buffing in vibratory machine


#1

All of the work I do is custom made-to-order. Most of my pieces have
patterns, etching, etc. and are mixed metal - sterling silver and
gold. I can’t polish them on my buffing machine without damaging the
finish or detail. My polishing setup for the past few years has been
to patina the work and then run it through a vibratory using Rio
Aqua Cones. This removes the patina from the surface, leaving the
darkness in the recesses. After this step, I have been putting the
work directly into another vibratory with green shell and running
that for 24-48 hours, finishing it in cobmeal for another 6-8. I do
have Judy Hoch’s booklet for reference and was interested in trying
to burnish in ceramic media run with a flow-through in the vibratory.
I guess my hope was to speed up the process a bit to be able to get
my work out the door sooner. I know that’s probably wishful thinking.
Anyway - I’m finding I don’t really like the burnished finish.

There is something not anywhere near the finish I get running it
through the green shell. The burnished finish almost has a harshness
to it, if that makes sense. So I guess my question to the forum is
can I at least speed up or eliminate some time spent in the green
shell by first using the ceramic media for a few hours and then
putting the work into the green shell? I hate to think that I wasted
all my money on this ceramic media and compound, but if it’s not
going to save me some time in the green shell, I don’t see the point
in me even running a ceramic media step and ending up with a finish
that I’m not happy with. I had thought that ceramic media would be
good for textured and patterned pieces with high detail. Another
thing is that, even though I was informed that burnishing would not
remove any patina but would, instead, burnish it into the metal, I’m
not finding that to be the case. I’m finding much more patina being
removed from the ceramic media burnishing. Does anyone successfully
use ceramic polishing media as a do-all final step? And if so, for
what type of designs? I’d sure like to find some use for this if at
all possible.


#2

Greetings,

My trick, back when I was doing a lot of mass finishing was to run
multiple vibratory units at once.

If you’ve got a cycle that works for you, nobody said you had to run
it one-step-at-a-time, in the same machine.

Get another couple of machines, and gang them up. So that you take a
batch from the rough finish in tumbler 1, straight into the green
shell in tumbler 2, while tumbler 1 runs another rough batch, and
tumbler 3 is running your final cobmeal step on yesterday’s batch.
Any individual batch will still take 3 days to cycle through, but
you’ll be getting full daily batches every day, once you’ve got the
system loaded up. I also had them on lamp timers, and ran them at
night too. I liked the idea of them polishing while I slept. That way
I could get 2 full cycles in per ‘day’.

Instead of changing the abrasive which gives you a finish you like,
change the machines.

Regards,
Brian


#3
My trick, back when I was doing a lot of mass finishing was to run
multiple vibratory units at once. 
If you've got a cycle that works for you, nobody said you had to
run it one-step-at-a-time, in the same machine. 

Brian is right, and if you want to do this you can get lighter
weight Vibratory machines from companies that sell machines for
cartridge reloading. They are fine for running green shell, and a
fraction of the price. I even found one here in the UK where we are
quite gun shy these days.

Tim


#4

I have four vibratory tumblers going. One for aqua cones, one for
green shell, one for red and the other for the last cob step. I was
more curious as to what successful results others have found from the
ceramic polishing media. I’m wondering if there are certain designs
that seem to do well in this finishing media. As mentioned, I’m not
really happy with the results I’m getting. I get a shine, but
definitely not the same as the buffing with green shell.


#5
I have four vibratory tumblers going. One for aqua cones, one for
green shell, one for red and the other for the last cob step. I
was more curious as to what successful results others have found
from the ceramic polishing media. I'm wondering if there are
certain designs that seem to do well in this finishing media. As
mentioned, I'm not really happy with the results I'm getting. I get
a shine, but definitely not the same as the buffing with green
shell. 

Michael - I’ve used the ceramic beads for finishing in a vibratory
tumbler. They do a great job of polishing - IF - you break them in
properly. I ran the batch of 3 sizes (necessary) for 4 or 5 days in
a closed system with about 20% scrap silver and silver I fused. It
was really dirty but cleaned up well. The break in step is required
but only once. It doesn’t matter if you polish gold, silver, brass or
whatever after break in.

Next - the ceramic beads seem to need very long run times. 24 to 36
hours. Use the recommended cleaning solution.

What they polish - pretty much everything - BUT - since they are
round they don’t get right next to bezels and such.

It is necessary to run multiple sizes of beads together. One size
doesn’t work.

Last - you have unlocked the key to mass finishing - one tumbler per
media. I don’t understand however, why you would run both red and
green buff. Or are they used red for yellow metals, green for white?

Judy Hoch G. G.
Author - “Tumble Finishing for Handmade jewelry”


#6

Judy

Yes, I use the red buff for yellow and red golds. It’s probably
overkill, but during the holidays I’ll sometimes have two tumblers
running with green shell so that I can run multiple polishing runs
without stopping the first batch put in the green shell. I think
that maybe the issue I’m seeing is what you mentioned, that the
ceramic media doesn’t really touch in the recesses as the green/red
shell does. So for highly textured pieces, I’m ending up with a high
shine on the surface, but a dull and untouched finish in the
recesses. When the pieces are finished and dried, the darkened areas
look the same as they did when I initially take them out of the liver
of sulfer. There really isn’t a shine at all to the darkened areas.
That’s probably where my eye is seeing a difference in the finished
pieces. I’ll have to stick with the buff for the textured pieces and
will play around with other designs in the ceramic media and see what
kind of results I can get.


#7

If you had a rotary with steel, you would get the polish you want.
Even better if you run pieces that you want high polished, first in
steel, then aqua cones, then steel, then green or red buff. Both runs
in steel are 30 to 45 minutes max. I’ve quit using the ceramic beads
because of all the time it takes. 30 minutes in steel vs. 36 hours
for ceramic…

Judy Hoch