What level of finish is possible with a magnetic polishing
machine? Does the piece still require more traditional methods of
polishing as well to achieve the best results? Is there much
difference between the magnetic polisher and a barrelling machine
(noise,finish quality etc.)?
Steven - The magnetic polishing machine is simply a burnishing
device. It does not smooth the metal, it simply burnishes it. It is
exceptionally useful for very small work, filigree, complex heads and
designs with complex interstices. I use it for polishing hand made
earwires and complicated bails. It is good on small round things and
when you want a kind of sparkly finish.
The main difference between the magnetic polisher and a rotary
barrel is the size of the media used to burnish the work. In a
barrel, the common media is mixed shapes of stainless steel - kind of
like BBs. The steel in a magnetic polisher is very fine small wires
in short lengths.
If your work needs to be smoothed, you would usually employ a
vibratory machine with some kind of abrasive media prior to using the
burnishing of the rotary tumbler.
As to noise - the magnetic polisher is fairly quiet and usually run
for about 15 to 20 minutes. The rotary is noisier and usually run for
30 to 45 minutes. The vibratory machine is typically run for 3 to 4
hours and makes quite a racket.
Magnetic machines are very expensive, rotary ones are the cheapest
and the vibratory ones are in the middle for cost.
Get the book - Tumble Finishing for Handmade Jewelry - available
from most of the Orchid sponsors. Amazon doesn’t have it.