Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Considering buying a Tumbler


#1

I was considering buying the Lortone dual barrel tumbler

http://www.jatayu.com/Supplies/Tools.htm

Reading the archives, it seems some people have had trouble getting
the lid on. I’ve seen all sorts of advice, ranging from using hot
water to create negative pressure as it cools, doming the bottom
when you put the lid on, leaning on the top as hard as you can to get
a tight seal, etc.

Well I’m not very big and I’m not very strong and this sort of
worries me. Then I came across this:

www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber=46376

Now I know Harbor Freight isn’t the best for tools in the world, but
it seems there are several people who have used this tumbler for
several years before it finally blew. I ought to be able to get at
least $19 worth of use out of it, I would think. And I AM VERY
short of cash. I know the lortone would be higher quality, but
before I pony up the extra $50 (plus shipping) I’d like to hear more
about both models.

Also, I’m guessing I might have the same problems with the lid on
the Harbor Freight - anybody have any experience with this?

Thanks.
Sojourner
Ottist Itineratus


#2
    Also, I'm guessing I might have the same problems with the lid
on the Harbor Freight - anybody have any experience with this? 

Sorry, I haven’t seen the Harbor Freight lid.

But the Lortone lid is truly annoying. Go ahead and get the Lortone
if, every time you use the tumbler for the next 20 years, you’ll say
to yourself, with glee, “I saved $20.00 on this tumbler! That’s so
worth it!”

If you think you’ll more likely say, “I can’t believe I got this
tumbler and only saved $20.00! #@%$*!!,” then get anything but.

I have seen other people try to open the Lortone and get suds
splashed in their face (I know, I know, too much soap, wasn’t me),
and seen students struggle, confused.

It just plain takes too long to assemble the lid. Tumblers last a
long time, that’s the problem. It’ll never break and you’ll be
stuck with it.

I’d suggest you get the cheaper Harbor Freight, if the lid is
different, and consider it disposable. Then upgrade later.

Elaine
Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


#3

Zen, I have a rubber barrel tumbler and don’t have any trouble at
all getting the lid on. I actually have more problems getting it off!
(smile) I think the thing that might “blow” on you would be the motor
of the unit rather than the barrel. What are you planning to tumble?
We mostly use ours for tumbling silver, so the loads aren’t heavy at
all. I would think that if you keep the weight going into the barrel
under the manufacturer’s specs, it should serve you well for quite
some time. I really love having a tumbler and would definitely
replace it if/when it stops working.

Betty


#4
        Also, I'm guessing I might have the same problems with the
lid on the Harbor Freight - anybody have any experience with this? 

That’s the exact model I bought last year. No problems of any kind
so far, but I don’t use it every day for days on end. Typically, I
use it for burnishing cast pieces, maybe 30 minutes a day, once or
twice a week.

James in SoFl


#5
  www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber=46376 

Now I know Harbor Freight isn’t the best for tools in the world, but
it seems there are several people who have used this tumbler for
several years before it finally blew.

With regard to this tumbler-- Does anyone know whether the barrel
is smooth inside, or has multiple flat sides?

–Noel


#6

Sojourner,

I have been using tumblers now for 20+ years. Mostly to tumble the
left overs from cabbing and break offs from my saws. I have at
least one tumbler running 24/7 all year long. My wife thinks I’m
crazy but as long as it is in the garage and relatively quite, she
will abide it.

I have used Thumbler’s, Lortones and a number of other brands.
Personally, I like the Lortone barrels and lids. They are made so
should there be any gas build up, the rubber barrels expand. For
small gas build up, the rubber liner on the lid plate collects the
gas and it expands inwards. There is no need to go through the hot
water thing or any other thing. Simply be sure the notch around the
top of the barrel is clean and the inner lid and liner are well
seated. When putting on the outer lid, I always stand over the
barrel and lean down evenly all around to be sure it is also well
seated. Then put on a 1.5 inch washer and the nut. I have NEVER had
a blow out…leaking now and then (because I didn’t set the lid
properly) but never a blow out.

To open the outer lid, simply use the large washer (or any round
object such as a quarter) slip it under the bottom of the lid and
twist. The lid will come rigfht off.

I have not used the Harbor Freight version but know several who
have. It is not made for long term use…the motor just won’t stand
up. A small load once or twice a year is ok, but considering that
each grit should be allowed a two to three week run plus another
for the polish means a 4 to 6 week cycle to do a good job on stones.

If you are going to use it for metal, it might do well. Metal
should only be left in the shot for an hour or two and it will
handle that. Don’t over load the barrel with shot however, it is
not made for that heavy a load. Also, be sure to use only
burnishing (or non sudzing soap) or it WILL blow out!

Hope this helps you. Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in
SOFL where simple elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2.


#7

I want to use it for burnishing/finishing.

James, is that the double barrel model that you bought, or the
single? I had thought about getting the double barrel model so I
could burnish in one and polish in the other, but then I thought,
that’s probably the same motor, might the double barrel model
overload the motor?

I may some day get into the lapidary end of things (I’ve cut, but
not polished, in the past), but for that I’d get a Real Machine. For
now I just want to be able to finish small silver pieces, mostly
bangles/bracelets, earrings, a lot of woven/braided or knit/crochet
work. If possible, if the shot won’t get stuck in there…

I also don’t know much about the different mediums, am I right in
thinking that you need to run the piece through with steel shot and
then finish with something else? If so, what else?

Thanks, you guys are SO much help! I really appreciate the advice.

I’ve been getting a lot of negative reviews of both the Lortone and
the HF model off list, but its going to have to be one of them, I
think, unless there’s a comparably priced model someone can
recommend? Not more than $70, that’s the absolute limit of what I
have to spend right now. I really think the HF model is my best bet
for the short term, but I’m still taking comments…

Sojourner


#8

Noel, the barrel of the Harbor Freight tumbler is smooth inside
(does not have multiple flat sides).

Dorothy


#9
    With regard to this tumbler--  Does anyone know whether the
barrel is smooth inside, or has multiple flat sides? 

Mine is smooth.
James in SOFl


#10

I have both, a Lortone 3 barrel model in the shop, and a Harbor
Freight one that I take when I teach workshops. I’ve never had any
trouble with either.

Cheers.
John Fetvedt
bijoux de terre
http://www.jef.com


#11
   With regard to this tumbler--  Does anyone know whether the
barrel is smooth inside, or has multiple flat sides? 

Smooth.

Cheers.
John Fetvedt
bijoux de terre
http://www.jef.com


#12
I bought to be able to get at least $19 worth of use out of it, I
would think.  And I AM VERY short of cash.  I know the lortone
would be higher quality, but before I pony up the extra $50 (plus
shipping) I'd like to hear more about both models.

The Harbor Freight tumbler might work for a while. The Chicago
Electric brand isn’t known for reliability long term, but they
usually run for a while.

Putting the lid on isn’t the big deal you’ve heard. Yes, you have to
fiddle a bit, but brute strength isn’t the issue.

IMHO, what you need to consider is what are you going to use for
media in your tumbler? A rotary tumbler will need steel of some kind,
and that stuff runs $12 to $15 per pound. Even the little tumbler
will take 5 pounds. This is for stainless steel. If you try to do it
with non stainless, you will be left with junk steel and ruin your
work you are tumbling. Further, all this tumbler will do is make
your stuff shiny. It will not smooth it. For that you need another
process tumbler.

Try to look at the whole picture before you spend your limited
funds. Use the Orchid archive searching for tumbling, mass finishing,
vibratory tumbler, rotary tumbler. There is enough there
to educate you about what you need.

Judy Hoch


#13

Noel,

I believe it is a round barrel inside…no flat sides. Actually, it
is very much like the Lortone barrels.

Cheers, Don in SOFL


#14

I have been using my lortone for many years with very good results.
If I overload the drum with stainless shot I need to apply tape to
the lid before I put on the metal cover.

mike w


#15

Midway USA 1-800-243-3220 has an incredible vibratory tumbler for
around $40. Making it even better is the lifetime warrantee. I
bought one 6 years ago and used it daily. It quit recently and I
returned it as per warrantee. Not only did they send a new one at
no charge, but they also paid me back for the shipping.

I bought one for the store where I am a bench jeweler and we use it
daily. It is such a breeze to solder a broken chain and then throw
it into the tumbler with stainless steel shot. It comes out looking
like new, and I haven’t had to breath any polishing compounds. You
buy the burnishing liquids at Rio or Stuller. I can not imagine not
having this little workhorse in my shop. It pays for itself a
hundred times over.

Julia


#16
With regard to this tumbler--  Does anyone know whether the barrel
is smooth inside, or has multiple flat sides? 

It is smooth inside. I bought the Lortone tumbler a few years back
and the motor gave out on me in a few months time which was quite
disappointing. It was X-mas time, so I ran down to Harbor Freight
in my pinch and got the $20 tumbler (it was even on sale!). That
tumbler has been serving me so well for the past two years that I
haven’t even bothered to repair my fancy Lortone yet!

Everyone had told me how fantastic it was and theirs was lasting
double digit years…Go figure. BTW, the barrels are almost exactly
alike on both brands. I use them interchangably and they are both a
pain to open.

Good luck,
Margarita


#17
        is that the double barrel model that you bought, or the
single? I had thought about getting the double barrel model so I
could burnish in one and polish in the other, but then I thought,
that's probably the same motor, might the double barrel model
overload the motor? 

Mine is the single barrel model. I came across it on my first visit
to a new Harbor Freight store that opened not far from me. I
actually picked it up almost as an afterthought. It was just lying
there on a dais, on sale for something like $15. I’ve no idea how
long it will last, but it’s already paid for itself.

I don’t know whether the double barrel model has the same motor as
the single. Judging from the photo on the website, it does - but
that’s not a very good way to tell. Would it be overloaded with the
uses you need: burnishing and polishing? Probably. But I’m sure that
even though I only half-fill my single barrel with shot and metal,
I’m probably overloading it, too. But as I said before, I only use
it to burnish for usually less than an hour. And again, mine has
already paid for itself. I can always replace it for $20.

James in SoFl


#18
 A rotary tumbler will need steel of some kind, and that stuff runs
$12 to $15 per pound. Even the little tumbler will take 5 pounds

Forgive me, Judy, but a little tumbler like that is fine with one
pound-- that’s what I have used for years!

–Noel


#19

Hello Noel

I have the single barrel version and it is smooth, no flat sides. Be
sure to order some extra belts if you decide to get this. I had the
worst time finding a replacement!!

Judy in Kansas, whose back is stiff after spending a lovely spring
day cleaning up the rock garden.


#20

Hi Sojourner,

I have one of those Harbor Freight tumblers, and I love it. I use
mine for burnishing with steel shot, as I do the prefinishing steps
by hand. It works beautifully for this, and I’ve tumbled as many as
45 cicada-wing-sized pieces at a time. The lid is a very simple
system and I’ve not had any trouble with it. The only quirk I’ve
found is that I have to turn the machine on, then place the barrel
on it; otherwise, it has trouble starting. Oh, and the rubber barrel
is smelly for a while, but it gets better.

Ain’t no way you can beat that price! I think I may have to get a
second one…

Best wishes,
Jessee Smith
www.silverspotstudio.com
Cincinnati, Ohio