Magnetic Polishing

A general question for the list membership:

The University has graciously purchased a magnetic finishing
machine for the jewelry/metals studios. While I have used
vibratory polishers and tumble polishers, this is a new ballgame.

The machine was built by/for Romanoff, but came with very, very
brief instructions. It, of course, uses stainless steel pins and
a polishing/soap solution; has variable speeds and timer.

My questions concern speed of polishing, size of polishing media
(the “pins” are currently .5 MM round x 6 mm long), and length of
time. I would appreciate any that is available from
you and please don’t fear that you will insult me by making
things too simple. I need the and I don’t have an
ego that will get in the way of learning new things.

Thanks in advance.

Tim Glotzbach
Eastern Kentucky University @artglotz
Richmond, KY USA

Tim - I would like to add a question to yours. How do you keep
the small diameter pins out of hollow forms like beads? I have
never used a magnetic tumbler but often have problems with the
steel shot filling hollow forms that I have rotary tumbled. They
are difficult and sometimes impossible to remove. –

Steven Brixner - Jewelry Designer - San Diego CA USA

Hello Tim, I have used and own a few magnetic Pin
polishers…they are wonderful.They do NOT replace steel shot.
steel shot is heavier and hardens the surface of castings …
which if properly used looks good on some jewelry (Mostly
antiqued items like charms,highly detailed surfaces) the
pinpolishers goes were steel shot cannot go… inside fine
lines…small cavities inside basket style rings and complex
stone settings where it is impossible to polish and only
chemicals work . I use this machine on gold, silver and
bronze,before handpolishing (Most of what i do has a Mirror
finish). I use Ajax (lemon) liquid soap only. About a full
teaspoon for the small machine. Rinse the shot after evry use and
it will never need to be cleaned. Removing pieces… pour
everything into a larger tupper ware container… rinse under
warm water until water is clean(slowly so the pins don’t come
floating out) leave the tupper ware and pins 3/4 full of cool
water and remove the pieces by hand… in this way all the
little pins wash off the pieces as you pick them up (the pins are
very expensive).you can also use strainers.

I hope this helps
Dan Grandi
tel. 401-461-7803

Hi Tim,

Basically all the Magnetic Finishing Machines work pretty much
the same way although there are some very basic models that
usually run at slower speeds, have a timer and that’s about it.
Then there are the very fancy models that run at the highest
speeds and have various bells and whistles that may or may not be
necessary for the type of work you’re doing.

All Magnetic Tumblers work via spinning magnets in the base that
cause the stainless steel shot rods to tumble furiously fast and
end-over-end in the bowl. The advantage to it is that these tiny
pins get into all the teeny tiny places (including settings,
undercuts, channels, etc.) that no other tumbler/media can get
into and that are such a pain to polish by hand. (Media = the
stuff you put into the tumbler to do the work, in this case the
stainless steel pins.)

When I first saw these tumblers with their tiny little pin media
I thought “Aha, it’s NOT the tumbler at all, it’s that tiny
media.”. So I tried running those little pins in my Rotary
Tumbler - didn’t work. I combined it with standard steel shot
media - still didn’t work. It really is the combination of the
tiny pin media with the high speed action of the magnetic
tumbler that does the job.

Note that because it is steel shot, it only burnishes and peens
the metal - it does not abrade or remove metal. And ceramic and
plastic abrasive type medias just don’t work in a Magnetic
Tumbler. Therefore a Magnetic Tumbler is a nice addition to your
automated finishing line, but it will not make your Vibratory,
Rotary, or Disc Finisher machines obsolete. You still need
those for abrasive work and for polishing of smooth undetailed

The Magnetic Tumbler is really best suited for tiny detailed
areas. Smooth surfaces (like ring shanks) end up slightly
“frosty” looking (due to a little bit of impingement by those
pins). Best results I’ve seen using Magnetic Finishing is on
settings with multiple heads, channel sets, charms with a lot of
detail, stuff like that. For example, an eagle charm I saw with
lots of detailed feathers looked incredible after Magnetic
Tumbling - each feather bright and shiny with no unfinished

Magnetic Tumblers can be used on hard and soft metals.
Generally the cycles times are:

Sterling  30-45 minutes
Yellow Gold  45-60 minutes
White Gold, Platinum 60-120 minutes

Fill the tumbler according to manufacturers instructions
(usually they supply the exact amount of shot needed to fill the
bowl to the proper level). Add water either to the fill line
marked on the bowl or (if not fill line is marked) to a point
about 1/2" or so (it’s not that critical) above the level of the
shot. Add soap according to the directions. Some sudsing is
normal and does not inhibit tumbling effectiveness.

Run the parts for the suggested time and inspect them. Run them
a little longer if necessary. That’s pretty much it.

What can go wrong? Every once in a while the shot will turn
black. This can happen for a variety of reasons including some
jewelry might still have had investement on it (clean the
investment off before tumbling), or you put in the wrong soap, or
just because who knows! It just happens sometimes. Best fix:
Coca-Cola and I’m not kidding! :slight_smile: Add a 50/50 mix of Coke and
water and tumble the shot for 15 minutes. Empty the bowl and
repeat if necessary 2 or 3 times. Cleans the shot right up. For
some reason Pepsi does not work and no, I do not own stock in
Coke. :slight_smile:

If you have some highly detailed pieces that the shot does not
seem to be getting into, there are smaller sizes of shot
available. 5mm long x 4mm diameter; 5mm long x 3mm diameter;
and we have even special ordered for some customers 5mm long x
2mm diameter. This shot is all very expensive though. Even the
standard 5x5mm shot is expensive - so be careful about losing

I’m sorry for running off at the mouth! But I hope this has
helped you a little.

Best Regards,

Elaine Corwin
Tools, Equipment & Supplies for the Jewelry Industry
Telephone: 1-800-544-2043
Fax: 203-335-0300

what is a magnetic tumbler. What is the brand name? I want to
polish some chains. Would this do the job very well? Thanks. RW

Has anyone used magnetic tumblers on gold jewelry with the
stones in place?=A0 If yes, are there some stones that can’t take
the action of the media?=A0 Is the action different from one
manufacture/unit to another; I imagine it is.=A0 Perhaps one is
better suited for stones in place.

Jeff Raymond

This has become one of the most time saving peices of equipment
that I have purchased. I have gotten into a routine of putting
into the water two teaspoons of vinager each run and then when
the walls start to look dirty I use the Coke (about third of a
can) and all stays bright and shiny. Also I use a copper tweezer
to grab items out of the pins and don’t lose any pins. The
vinager seems to suds and basically does the same as soap and
alot cheaper! I wouldn’t be doing alot of silver if it wasn’t
for this wounderful machine. Ron Kreml

Jeff, I have put jewelry in the tumbler with Diamonds and even
CZ’s but only as a last resort to polish pooly made jewelry. I
coated the stones with nail polish and seemed to keep them from
being hit directly. The other nice thing I have discovered is
that when you plate gold and put it in tumbler and repeat the
procces several times the plating stays on much longer and you
can get a thicker plating. Has anyone else discovered that?

Years and years ago, a friend of mine from Trinidad told me that
he had worked in a factory where gold plating was done
simultaneously with tumbling. Said that a much heavier plate
could be achieved. Also said that the people in the plating
departments got eight or twelve weeks of vacation every year.
Musta been nice!

Bruce D. Holmgrain
Maryland’s first JA Certified Senior Bench Jeweler

Hello Jeff, gold works perfectly in the magnetic Tumblers… so
does silver and bronze.there are different machines out there
primarily designed for larger or smaller volume. I have tried and
used many of them … from the fanciest with all the bells and
whistles to the simplest. What i presently use is the raytech
magnetic tumbler (the small one)… handles about 20 to 30 rings
has a on /off timer and has worked flawlessly.i don’t runn
anything more than 10 minutes with a lot of soap (ajax lemon
scented) rinse the soap and water out after evry use and you
willnever have a problem with the shot getting dirty.

As for stones … i have run dia. , cz, rubby and saphire with
no problem … i would hesitate to run softer stonesfor fear of
micro impingement. these machines are available at many
suppliers. the cheapest Raytech i have found is from the contenti
co. at 800-343-3364… another good source is the Guesswein
co…( i don’t have their number on hand). hope this helps


     the cheapest Raytech i have found is from the contenti co.
at 800-343-3364.... another good source is the Guesswein co...(
i don't have their number on hand). hope this helps 
Gesswein Co, 255 Hancock Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06605 USA
Telephone: 1-800-243-4466 for orders and pricing info.
Tech Help, etc.: 1-800-544-2043
or in CT 203-366-5400

We carry 7 styles/sizes of Magnetic Tumblers including the 2
smallest Raytech brands.

Best Regards,

Elaine Corwin

Basically, it is meant to burnish the metal. We at Tucson Parks
& Recreation have used them probably over 15 years and they are
the only way to go for polishing chains. We use assorted sizes of
stainless steel shot with Raytech burnishing soap (which seems to
keep the rust down better than the liquid soap). There are many
brands of sonic tumblers that work well. For economy gun
magazines have the cheapest deals ; they use them for polishing
shell casings. I caution you on bigger may not be better. It is
necessary to keep cleaning the shot frequently and the bigger -
the heavier. We didn’t like the flo- through systems; they kept
seizing up with steel shot. If you have any questions about
chains please email Jemcaninch. Good Luck!

Hi Jeff, I will tumble pieces with stones in my magnetic tumbler.
But only diamonds and only when I am willing to take a small
chance that I might have to replace a couple. I have never had
any damaged, but those little pins get wedged everywhere and I
suppose its only a matter of time. I guess I did tumbler a little
sea-horse pin I made and it had an emerald in the eye and that
survived, again I was willing to replace it if needed. I had
sandblasted the recesses of the sea-horse for contrast and the
customer wanted it brighter.

Mark P.

sorry to be so lame, but im looking for info on this polisher, that uses
magnets and stainless steel wires to polish, i need to know the name of it, and
where i can get plans to build my own, thanks,rodney

Here is an excellent post from Elaine Corwin of Gesswein:

For plans try

“Building a Magnetic Tumbler”

Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing

I had a link saved for the plans for making one:

and there is a commercial machines set of instructions for the Shor
Magnetic Tumbler at: