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Mass finishing talk

All this talk of mass finishing brings to mind some questions
I’ve had. I have a Raytech AV-25 tumbler. Price concerns had me
start out with plastic media, finishing with walnut shell. Later
I bought mixed sized porcelain media for the final finish, as the
walnut didn’t seem to be doing a good enough job. And, the
walnut is a pain to remove from some small areas.

My questions:

  1. Is stainless steel shot FAR superior to porcelain media for
    the mirror finish? Porcelain gives a fairly high shine, but not
    nearly as nice as jewelers rouge polishing.

  2. Can I use SS shot in this tumbler bowl? Rio Grande sells a
    separate bowl ($135.00) recommended for SS shot. I don’t notice
    any other of my suppliers making a separate recommendation for SS
    over plastic or porcelain media.

  3. For the AV-25, 7 qt. capacity, Rio recommends 50 pounds of
    SS shot. Look at the cost of 50 pounds, around $550! Question
    is, can I afford NOT to use it? And do I really need 50 pounds,
    or would a less full tumbler still do the job. I have noticed I
    can use a bit less of the recommended porcelain quantity with
    good results. I bought the large tumbler, not because I am so
    prolific that I need the extra capacity for multitudes of
    pieces, but because sometimes I make larger pieces, such as hair
    combs (asp or not to asp?), and need the space for those.

  4. Can SS shot replace the early finishing steps with the
    plastic media, or is it only to be used in the final step when
    all the scratches are gone?

Final comment: Often I will mass finish up through the
porcelain media stage. Then remove the pieces and oxydize them
with liver of sulfer. Then put them back into the porcelain
media to remove the oxidation on the high points. It seems to
take a VERY long time to completely remove the liver. Will SS
shot work better for this? Or, if I’m using mixed shot, will it
remove the oxide from the recessed places as well.

Oh, and how about that Rio descaler? Is it better than the
burnishing compounds to a significant degree?

Judith Marsh