I am totally new to mass finishing. I have ordered the tumbler, steel
media, and burnishing liquid. I am working with sterling raw castings
and maybe some gold. Do I need a final buff?
Denis, even if you use a magnetic tumbler I believe you will still
need to polish the pieces. Tumblers are made to "brighten" the metal
not final finish. Tumblers came in great demand due to the caustic
nature of bombing jewelry to get it brighter from its cast state.
The Jewelry CAD Institute
It depends on what look you are going for. If you are going to set
stones after you tumbled your metal, you will need to buff.
Otherwise, if you run your tumbler through the coarse to fine media,
and steel shot as last stage, you usually don't need to buff.
Since so much of my work cannot be polished on the buffing machine,
masstumble finishing is ideal. You will get a very faint peened
surface after you are done with the steel shot. When I run my metals
through thecoarse, medium and fine media, I have a silky smooth
satin finish, which I'll leave that alone if I like the look.
A small vibratory tumbler can do some damage to your work if you are
notviligant, but a rotary tumbler works really well for mass
tumbling. I've been using mass tumbling media since 1988 and have a
routine down pat. Multiple barrels are handy if you want to run
several batches at a time.
Hope that helps.
Denis - mass finishing works a lot like hand finishing. If you need
to file, sand, then polish with Tripoli and rouge, you need to do the
same kind of thing with mass finishing.
To just put raw castings into steel in a rotary machine will get you
burnished rough castings. Steel doesn't remove metal, it just
You will have shiny, not smooth castings.
A final buff in mass finishing usually means a dry process with
If you want a finish that compares to hand finishing, you need
abrasive media, in one or two steps, then burnishing, and perhaps a
final run in dry media.
Save yourself some time and learn about the process. There are
multiple postings on Orchid as well as the book "Tumble Finishing for
Handmade Jewelry" available from several of our Orchid advertisers.
Save yourself some time and headaches. just buy the book "Tumble
Finishing for Handmade Jewelry" - you'll be glad you did.
Judy in Kansas, who has the book and finds it very useful.