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High shine finish with tumblers


#1

I also recently bought a tumble vibe tumbler from raytech and am not
pleased at all!! It is not polishing my pieces (sterling silver) at
all…I was wondering what tumbler is the best…is one with steel
shot the best? And then are my expectations too high with a tumbler?
Once I finishing polishing with sandpaper and the piece is still
maybe a little scratched, will the tumbler take those scratches out
or do I have to sandpaper till there are no scratches and let the
tumbler put on the high shine finish?

Any help would be sooo appreciated :slight_smile: thanks!!
Angela


#2

Angela,

I have a Raytech vibratory tumbler using stainless steel shot and
pins and I get a wonderful, bright polish. What are you using in the
tumbler?

Mary A


#3

Hi Angela,

I also recently bought a tumble vibe tumbler from raytech and am
not pleased at all!! It is not polishing my pieces (sterling
silver) at all...I was wondering what tumbler is the best...is one
with steel shot the best? And then are my expectations too high
with a tumbler? Once I finishing polishing with sandpaper and the
piece is still maybe a little scratched, will the tumbler take
those scratches out or do I have to sandpaper till there are no
scratches and let the tumbler put on the high shine finish? 

Sorry to hear your tumbler isn’t giving you the results you
expected!

I think your expectations may have been a little high.

Tumblers are really burnishers. The require the items put in them to
be free of scratches. If you put an item in a tumbler with scratches,
you’ll get out a pieces with shiney scratches.

Items put into tumblers with steel shot should be free of scratches.
The time spent in a tumbler with assorted shapes of steel shot is
just going to be burnishing time. Burnishing will give it a better
shine, but it won’t remove any scratches.

Dave


#4

Angela, I think you want a tumbler that produces miracles. Try a
magnetic tumbler…this will give you the higher shine, but it will
not be like someone has polished it.

Russ

Russ Hyder
The Jewelry CAD Institute
www.thejewelrycadinstitute.com


#5

The tumbler will not remove scratches unless you are using an
abrasive in it. Steel shot will burnish but not remove scratches.

marilyn


#6
Tumblers are really burnishers. The require the items put in them
to be free of scratches. If you put an item in a tumbler with
scratches, you'll get out a pieces with shiney scratches. 

This applies to tumblers being used with steel shot. Put items in a
burnishing operation, and guess what, you get only burnishing action.

But tumblers can do more than burnish. Start, instead, with
abrasives, such as the various abrasive cone media, and these then
are able to refine rough unfinished, or roughly finished surfaces, to
ones with then finer scratches and fewer defects. Switch to a finer
abrasive media, and you may then end up with a surface that’s matte,
finished to a higher degree. Switch again, perhaps to a burnishing
operation (steel or ceramic media), and then you get your burnished
finish when the original items were quite rough and perhaps
scratched or filed.

You can also use media other than steel burnishing shot. Walnut
shell with rouge or polishing compounds, when applied to work with a
sufficient preparation before, can indeed give you a very high level
of polish.

it is possible, but not so easy, to get a tumbler to finish metal to
almost the same level of finish you can get with hand buffing. The
main difference is that with hand buffing, you can do things like
respect and refine edges, while tumbling tends to finish everything
uniformly, which will soften and round edges and corners.

But simply buying a tumbler is just the first step. It LOOKS like an
automatic tool, put the stuff in, get magic out, etc. But it’s not.
It takes some experience to know what sequence of media, how to use
them, for how long at each step, and what level of prefinish is
needed, etc. It’s not surprising that a new user of a tumbler,
especially if using just steel shot, could be disappointed with not
getting a super high polish. But that does not mean the tumbler
isn’t capable of giving you that level of polish. You just cannot do
it with only steel shot. Steel shot, used right, is fast and easy,
giving a nice level of uniform finish that may be just right for some
things, and the burnishing action, which other tumbling abrasives and
media don’t give you, is great for improving the surface of castings
which may otherwise suffer from a bit of porosity. But it only does
what it does. To get it all (super polish from rough) takes a good
deal more than just steel shot.

Take a look at the level of high polish easily attained on tumbled
semiprecious for example. From rough crushed rock to
shiney softened usable bits of ornamental material, or from preforms
to finished cabochons and the like. Getting this requires the proper
sequence of abrasives, used correctly. But with lapidary tumbling,
such results are pretty routine. And there’s no reason you cannot
get a tumbler to give you the same level of results with metal, if
you also follow the same degree of care and proper process.


#7
And then are my expectations too high with a tumbler? 

Angela - A tumbler is not a slave, but an able assistant. At this
point, there are no do it all in one shot tumblers.

You have purchased a good tumbler and it is one of two tumblers to
do your job. For a high polish on a plain design I’d proceed this
way.

First, remove as many scratches as possible. Tumblers don’t remove
detail, and scratches are details. Try hard not to scratch your work.

  1. In a rotary tumbler with stainless steel, run your pieces for 45
    minutes. This gives a bit of surface hardening and helps the
    abrasive media work better.

  2. In your flow-thru vibratory tumbler, run your pieces for 4 hours.
    Rinse well. You might need to do two passes here, first with a
    medium abrasive, rinse and then with a fine abrasive media. Flow-thru
    is essential for removing floating debris. I like Rio’s Clean cut
    abrasives.

  3. In a rotary tumbler with stainless steel, run your pieces for 45
    minutes.

  4. Empty and dry your vibratory tumbler, plug the drain, and run in
    dry media for 24-36 hours. I use Rio’s green buff.

  5. In steps 1,2, and 3, use the specified liquids for the media.
    Steel requires a different liquid than abrasive media. They need
    different surficants, pH values and chemistry to promote media
    movement.

This gives the best and highest shine on sterling. Proceed to set
your stones carefully. Try at all costs not to finish up on your
buff, the tumbling process leaves a fine silver finish that you can
penetrate quickly on a buff.

If you want to learn more about tumble finishing, borrow or purchase
the book “Tumble Finishing for Handmade Jewelry”. Many of Orchids
suppliers carry it. I wrote it.

Judy Hoch


#8

This is also for Peter Rowe!

Again, thank you for taking time to answer my question…very
helpful! Right now I am using the rouge like pellets and from what
the directions had said= the shine is taking more than 8hours to get
and I feel that I have sanded it to a pretty smooth, non scratchy
surface. Plus I have the other cone media and I keep getting a white
matte finish that is hard to remove. I have tried the 1st step, then
the 2nd step and then the polishing with this tumbler and am just not
getting the results, but maybe I just need to take more time with…I
am rushed for this show at the end of the month and I guess I just
need to keep trying! I have not tried steel shot in this
tumbler…didn’t think I could?! Thanks again!

Angela


#9

I have found that a magnetic tumbler with 5mm needle shot works
wonders. I use it to bring the finish up on castings, and to clean up
and shine soldered pieces coming out of the pickle. It leaves the
surface a little grainy but shiny, and is fantastic for getting into
the tight areas where the buffing wheel just can’t. For wire jewelry
and pre-polished pieces it can shine them up to the point where
buffing is optional, but nothing will put a polish on like the
buffing machine and rouge. For me, the magnetic tumbler saved me
hours buffing time and paid for itself the first time I used it. It
is probably my most favorite tool in my studio.

Cyndia Reddish
Black Water Siren Studio


#10

Angela

buy Judy Hoch book on mass finishing
Rio Grande carries it, it’s a bargain
and she also at times will answer e-mails

zev

ps I get super polished finishing by following her advice. Hardly
even need rouge anymore


#11

This is for Judy Hoch

Thank you so much for step by step process!! I have a couple of
questions for you and then I am going out to buy your book :)…

  1. I am currently not using stainless steel shot with my TUMBLE-VIBE,
    it came with the cone media and the dry rouge like small granule
    pellets. Every time that I have used the cone media (I have tried
    several ways), I seem to get this white matte finish which is hard to
    get off…why is this happening and how do I prevent?

After that was occurring, I skipped those 2 steps and just sanded my
pieces till there were no scratches and put them in the dry rouge
pellets for about 10-12 hours and the pieces shined but no where near
the shine I get on the buffing wheel…I would like to get away from
the wheel since the dust appears to be so hazardous to your health…

  1. Do you think Rio’s media is better for me to use instead of what
    came with my machine?

  2. Can I use steel shot in this particular TUMBLE-VIBE?

  3. in reference to the TUMBLE-VIBE, do Rio’s 'clean cut abrasives’
    and the ‘green buff’ go with it?

Thanks again for all of your !!
Angela


#12

Angela

I am currently not using stainless steel shot with my TUMBLE-VIBE,
it came with the cone media and the dry rouge like small granule
pellets. Every time that I have used the cone media (I have tried
several ways), I seem to get this white matte finish which is hard
to get off...why is this happening and how do I prevent? 

the tumble vibe is primarily for abrasive media. IMHO, all abrasive
media should be run wet, preferably in a flow-thru system. If you
don’t run it wet, the media doesn’t move very well and without the
cleaning action of the liquid, junk will get imbedded in your work.
That is probably the white stuff.

The smallest tumble vibe from Raytech that is flow thru is the
TV-10. The little TV-5 is a closed system. Both are specifically not
rated to run steel. I don’t know which model of Tumble Vibe you have.
If you bought it new, the 5 would cost about $100, the 10 about $220.

Do you think Rio's media is better for me to use instead of what
came with my machine? 

If you run the media wet, it will probably work. You need to know
what finish your abrasive is rated to produce. Coarse, medium or
fine.

Can I use steel shot in this particular TUMBLE-VIBE? 

There are several models of tumble-vibe, which one do you have?
There is a tumble-vibe, the TV-25SS that is rated for steel. BUT - to
run steel in a vibratory tumbler, you have to load the tumbler to its
working level. The steel load for that machine is 50 pounds or about
$800US and you have to move that stuff - heavy! So if you want to
have one machine to do it - use the TV-25SS and buy that much shot.

in reference to the TUMBLE-VIBE, do Rio's 'clean cut abrasives' and
the 'green buff' go with it? 

I’m not sure what you mean by “go with it”. Rio’s media and many,
many others work in almost any vibratory tumbler. When I recommend a
particular media, it is because I have used it extensively and found
it performs consistently. This isn’t rocket science. Use what you
have and evaluate performance. If you like it, use it. If it’s not
right, try something else. I try to make it easy to get excellent
results the first time and that’s how I make recommendations.

So - if you want to do it all in one tumbler, the inexpensive way to
burnish your work in your vibratory tumbler is to use ceramic beads
instead of steel. They have to be conditioned prior to first use and
require rather long run times, but they work very well. Like
everything else, they have limitations too.

I find the combination of vibratory tumbling for smoothing and
rotary for burnishing gives me the quickest end result.

Judy Hoch


#13

Anyone have a review on those magnetic do-hicks that can be used in
place of a tumbler?

I had the salesman’s review, but I’m thinking a second opinion would
be prudent.

Regards Charles A


#14

Not sure if it’s the same sort of magnetic polisher, but we have one
about 1 cubic foot with a 2 litre tub on top of it. It’s fairly
effective for brightening up small things, but only really works for
small or flat objects, and flat objects have to be turned over so
that both sides get done properly. The magnet only lifts the shot up
an inch or so. This is particularly noticable if you put a wide
bangle in - it will shine up the lower half, but not the upper half -
the bangle then has to be turned over. The best thing about it is
that you can put stone-set items in with the small steel shot, which
I wouldn’t want to do with the tumbler.

Jamie
http://primitive.ganoksin.com