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Fine Silver in Tumbler


#1

Oh Great Orchidians, Please help me with my latest problem. I’m
using fine silver to make filigree pendents. (Fine silver backsheet
with 24 guage fine silver wires soldered on.) I put them in my
rotary tumbler with mixed stainless shot. (Pins included to reach
those stubborn, hard-to-reach areas.) I use the shot with Rio’s
burnishing liquid. When I take my pieces out, after only a short
time (1/2 hour or so) the pins haven’t even worked their way into the
detail of the piece, but the plain solid parts are nice and shiny,
but pitted - sort of like an orange peel. I don’t seem to recall a
problem when I work with with sterling - which isn’t very often. I
assume that the shot is putting dents in the fine silver because it
is so soft. Actually some of the wires and granules have gotten
down-right bashed in an hour. Which leads me to my question, as if
you haven’t guessed it already. What can I do to get that high
polish without the dents? I’ve tried using buffing compounds with
my flex shaft, but it just takes away too much of the detail for my
liking. Plus, as far as using the tumbler goes, I like that it does
all the work and with no mess, and because I am working with fine
silver, the work-hardening is also a great bonus. Oh, and I should
mention before someone tells me to get it, that I do have Judy Hoch’s
tumbling book. While it is a great resource, unless I’ve missed it
completely, I don’t think it mentions the fine silver issue.

As always, looking forward to your ever-knowlegeable responses!
Thank you in advance,

Anastasia


#2

Work-hardened fine silver is still very soft no matter what you do.
Kiln or torch heating and slow cooling may be the best age-hardening
you can get. You might try to burnish with porcelain media in the
tumbler for the 24-gauge fine silver filigree, but I wouldn’t use a
tumbler on any granulation. Radial bristle discs on the flex shaft
should fairly quickly polish the detail you describe. Nancy
www.psi-design.com


#3

Recently I had the challenge of figuring out how to polish a
students filagree work. The only machine that comes close to
getting in all the places is a magnetic pin finishing machine. Flat
surfaces are somewhat frosty, but the wires polish nicely.

Steel in a rotary tumbler used on annealed fine silver will just
beat it up.

If it wasn’t filagree, I’d suggest using a dry vibratory tumbler
with walnut shell or wood chips - but it will just pack it self in
all the little spaces in the filagree.

Judy Hoch, G.G.
@Judy_Hoch


#4

Hi Anastasia This might help. When you cast silver don’t quench it it
will be a bit harder. Let the flask cool till you can handel it bare
handed.

Langton


#5
If it wasn't filagree, I'd suggest using a dry vibratory tumbler
with walnut shell or wood chips - but it will just pack it self in
all the little spaces in the filagree. Judy Hoch, G.G.<A 

Judy “The Tumbling Guru”,

Thanks so much for your reply. I was actually considering trying a
tumble in walnut shell and/or wood chips. Is one better than another
or should I use a combination? I hesitate because quite some time
ago I did try using, I think it was called Dry Shine or Dry Shine II.
It looked like walnut shell that was charged with rouge or something

  • it was red. Anyway, I had it in my small rotary tumbler for 8 - 10
    hours or so when I went to check on my piece and it was nasty looking
    with a grayish coating. Maybe it was just the wrong product to use.
    I went on the advice of a well meaning but not always so
    knowledgeable local jewelry supply store.

So what’s the “good stuff”? Does it come charged with something,
should I charge it, or doesn’t it need anything? Will it get my
pieces nice and shiny like the stainless shot does (providing that it
doesn’t just get stuck like you say)? Can I use my rotary tumbler,
or is it necessary to buy something more powerful? Will the
vibratory or others do a better job, or is it just faster? I was
looking at the Eco Dry Mini Finisher in Rio’s catalog, but at $595,
that’s a pretty expensive shot in the dark as to whether or not it
will fit my needs. Has anyone used this?

Judy, you also mentioned using a magnetic pin finisher, and how the
flat surfaces will get frosty. What exactly is this frostiness and
is there a way ot get rid of it without causing more problems?

There has just GOT to be a way to get my fine silver filigree pieces
nice and shiny (hopefully a little work-hardend too) without losing
the detail or beating them up! HELP!

Wow, looking back at this email - I sure do have alot of questions
here. It directly reflects my feelings of desparation. However, I
am also feeling very grateful to Hanuman and all of you out in
Orchidland. You amaze me everyday.

Sincerest Thanks,
Anastasia


#6
There has just GOT to be a way to get my fine silver filigree
pieces nice and shiny 

I agree there must be but are you sure you want to? I have a
lovely filagree necklace, bought for too little money from a
third-world vendor, that is pickle-white except for the outer edges,
which are polished. To me, this makes it easier to see the detail,
and emphasizes the extreme delicacy of the design. If I were going to
try to polish it, I think I would try the softest 3M radial bristle
brushes in my flex shaft, or some other very soft-bristle polishing
brush. --Noel


#7

how to polish…filagree work. The only machine that comes close to
getting in all the places is a magnetic pin finishing machine. Flat
surfaces are somewhat frosty, but the wires polish nicely.

Steel in a rotary tumbler used on annealed fine silver will just beat
it up.

Anastasia, since the flat backing pieces are such a big part of the
problem, how about using sterling for those flat parts, and fine
silver for the wires? Cindy www.cynthiaeid.com