Magnetic pin tumblers

Tossing this out to the collective mind…does this tumbler have any value or will it likely turn into another unneeded door stop in a short time? Thanks to any that express their experience.

I broke down and bought one of these. At first I was disappointed, it didn’t polish very well. The problem was the unit came with bad pins, they were rusty and weak. They wouldn’t rinse completely clean and they were literally disintegrating with use. I bought some good pins off of Etsy with some trepidation but they rinsed clean and polish very well. The mag tumbler polishes my metal clay pieces very quickly where as my rotary tumbler takes hours to get the same level of shine. Now I primarily use the rotary for Hone and Shine and the mag for pieces I want to shine up. I even did my last chain in it. It looked like a big mistake at first! Lots of little pins were stuck in my chain! But my little magnet easily removed most of them and eventually got all of them with my help. I’d do it again, the shine was awesome and my stainless steel shot mix can be much harder to get out of my chains.

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My and now YOUR Magnetic-Steel-shot tumbled is the ‘best’ little machine in my Diamond Setting workshop. When I get my casting back from my caster, I’ll drop my rings into this machine, and 'viola" clean as anything you could see. This is a fantastic little machine that adorns my workshop.
“Doorstops is what you could buy in a hardware store”. I use “Dawn” liquid soap and ordinary water with many grains of steel-shots. GOOD-GRIEF!, my rough-looking rings or anything else just gets to be just damned gorgeous!
My BEST method is to tie up the chain(s) CLOSED, or you will find the chain getting ‘ends’ really in a mess.I forgot one time and that was my downfall.
My next suggestion is to buy TWO SIZES OF STEEL SHOTS. The bigger sizes for
those little microscopic chains. Those fine chains, I’d use larger steel shots, this way you won’t have any of those shots getting inside the links.
For your rings & findings, I’d use the finest sizes, this will give you a chance to in between the many areas where your polishing wheel buffs just can’t get into.
If you don’t use your machine, YOU ARE LOSING OUT.
Gerry Lewy, who is today celebrating our 50th Wedding Anniversary. Just for you, I’m at my computer.


Sarah, thank you for sharing your experience. Would have never guessed/figured that the pins would be the weak link in purchasing and putting one of these tumblers to work. My fingers will be doing some shopping before the sun goes down. To anyone reading this topic, if you need an unusual door stop, boat anchor, gym conditioning weight, or emergency car brake, just let me know how heavy you’d like and whether you like it with a chain or rope and it can be arranged. Have more than one in the inventory…LOL might even pay YOU to get one…

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I think it really depends how you intend to use it. I have one of these, but still use my rotary one much more than the mag. I tend to be trying to clean and lightly matte-finish larger pendants and rings, which the mag one just doesn’t really do. I rely on plastic pyramids and cones in the rotary. However, the magnetic one is excellent as the finishing step after applying a patina to a sterling chain. Leaves really lovely finish.

Hi Gerry, Could you please clarify for me that you are using steel shot in your magnetic tumbler and not pins? I am using pins and get a frosted finish and it would be great if I could get a shine.

I name these “steel shots”, or some folks name these “little steel pins”, no matter the name that you give them. Here are mine that I use 100% of the time.

Here are the “little things”, now you can name them any name you want. But one thing is that they work.
Gerry Lewy!

Where did you purchase these? What are their dimensions? What size is the ‘tub’ for your mag finisher? What is the make of the mag finisher?

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I’ve used vibratory and rotary for many years for cut down with abrasive media and burnishing with the pretty standard SS shot. A pin tumbler will be a new “adventure” to attempt to reach the nooks and crannies that SS shot won’t get to.

We picked up one of these about 2 years ago. It is a massive improvement over the small mag tumbler that we had before. It’s really neat since it has a multi-direction mode, where it will go for a couple minutes clockwise, then stop and start spinning the other way. Really helps keep the piece from just having one side getting hit with the pins.
Ours is a little odd, for example, the label says “Magnetic Tumeber”, but that obviously doesn’t effect how it works. Definitely pick up some good steel shot from Rio or Stuller though. The stuff that comes with it is sharp and made of pretty low quality steel that rusts quickly.

Oh, also, if you usually run dish soap as your lubricant in a mag tumbler, this machine will turn that in to a super frothy mess in no time! So dedicated pin finishing solution, or a mixture of dish soap and baking soda will keep the froth from growing and taking over your whole shop like some weird horror movie.


Scott, thank you for the dish soap/baking soda tip. Wondering if baking soda is effective to knock down the “bubble bath” froth
that occurs with a new solution of Rio deburring compound in our vibratory tumbler. Goes away after about a day of use, but dampens the action inside the tumbler before it does.

a drop of liquid fabric softner will dampen the bubble bath effect. It will also leave your pins less coated by the soap.


That’s actually why we add the baking soda. It doesn’t completely remove the froth, but definitely diminishes it, also, it seems to add a little chemical stripping to the mix (since it’s ever to slightly caustic). It might just be our imagination though, as we haven’t really done a side-by-side test on it.
We’re currently trying out some various compounds in our disc finisher and tumbler to see how the perform vs just dish soap too.

That’s brilliant! I’ll have to give that a try!

When you buy the pins, be sure to buy the ones with rounded ends. Some of the cheaper ones are just chopped off wire with rough ends and don’t polish as well.

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Maybe Judy Hoch will update her coverage of magnetic tumblers in her new book…Rob

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