Hi Dave! I was wondering . . . How large is your vibratory tumbler??? I have a small one (Quart) and after reading your note, I've decided that I don't have enough shot in mine.
I use the smallest tumbler Gemstones (Simi Valley CA) mfgrs…
The bowl looks sorta like an angel food cake pan except that the
bottom is rounded, it’s about 7.5 in diameter X 4in high. When
it’s running the shot & whatever is in it has a 2 way rolling
action (around the center of the bowl & from the bottom of the
bowl to the top).
Shot polishes by burnishing, no metal is removed (small burrs
left from sawing are the exception). Other polishing media
usually polish by abrading the material being polished.
Steel shot needs to be cleaned occasionally with Draino or lye
(sodium hydroxide). If the top cover is kept tightly on the
tumbler when not in use the combination of burnishing soap &
ammonia do a good job of rust prevention. Course you can aways
use stainless steel (costs about $15/#) shot instead of regular
steel ($5/#). I’ve been using the same 7lbs of shot for over 5
Be sure that any stones you put in the the tumbler can take the
ammonia. I had a bad experience with a chain containing some
lapis beads, they came out dull & rough. Probably weren’t very
good beads to begin with. Valuable lesson learned!