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Matte Mass finishing revisited


#1

Hi everyone,

While this has been covered a few times in the past, I have not been
able to have specific questions I have answered satisfactorily and I
was hoping for some help (and yes, I am proud owner of your
tumble-finishing book, Judy, but I still have questions).

As sales have increased, I find myself unable to cost-effectively
finish my matte jewelry pieces by hand any longer. I would like to
use a vibratory tumbler but I am unsure as to whether a closed
tumbler can be used (in the book it only discusses ones with a
flow-through system). I have limited water-supply and cannot have
water running continuously through a flow-through. I’m looking at the
top model found heRe: http://dillonprecision.com/ Stock number 20493 -
would this work? I really don’t want to have to spend

I only plan to use this station for matte finishing so I am going
to use the same media in it all of the time. My next question is
about water… do you still use water in a closed system or do you
dry finish? I plan on trying out the plastic high-density media first
to see if it gives me the finish I am wanting. Can this be used dry?
I know it is going to take a bit of experimentation to achieve the
finish I want, but I would like to at least get my equipment
purchased correctly the first time and know how to use it.

I appreciate any help you guys can provide - I’ve obviously never
used a vibratory tumbler before (only a rotary) so I’m wading through
uncharted territory here.

Carrie Otterson


#2

Carrie, I use a vibratory tumbler to produce a matte finish. I do
not use flow-through but just dump the media, jewelry, and soap into
a large sieve in a sink and rinse well, when tumbling is finished.

I have a dough-nut type vibratory tumbler, about 10 inches in
diameter. I use it about half-full of medium-grit plastic triangular
abrasive media, together with just under half a cup of the liquid
soap which Rio sells for this use – since I work in base metal, I
use 339-302, Sunsheen brass deburring compound, and dilute it as per
the instructions on the bottle, 1/4 cup soap per gallon of water.

Sometimes a couple of hours is enough to get a nice matte finish (on
brass).

Good luck!
Judy Bjorkman


#3

Hi Carrie,

The Dillon tumblers are dry use only according to the manufacturer.
I bought one and was disappointed to find this out only after
receiving it. You may be able to use it with water but it is not
designed for it.

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#4

Hello Carrie and all,

I’ve been watching this post with interest as it is providing a lot
of different approaches I find interesting. I would like to say
humbly, in my experience, trying to create a matt finish on metal
with mass finishing equipment is not easy. One of the biggest
obstacles is communicating the desired results with customers.
Trying to explain a finish other than a high polish without visual
aids is like trying to explain specific colors verbally, just about
impossible.

My experience mass finishing metal (for a matt appearance) is that I
get a flat molded looking surface no matter the media, nothing like
hand finishing or abrasive blasting can do. I simply have not found
a media that leaves a surface finish anywhere close to the many
different hand approaches. This is not to say it’s not possible, I
just have not found an approach I care for. However, desirable
surface finish is in the eye of the beholder.

I would like to use a vibratory tumbler but I am unsure as to
whether aclosed tumbler can be used (in the book it only discusses
ones with a flow-through system). I have limited water-supply and
cannot have water running continuously through a flow-through. 

Flow through system recycles water, all you need for a single step
is 4 gallons and a 5 gallon bucket with pump. I also recommend a
deburring compound.

I'm looking at the top model found heRe:
http://dillonprecision.com/ Stock number 20493 - would this work?

My experience with these types of tumblers are that they are
designed to run dry, but I could be wrong as I didn’t see any
indication they could run wet or dry, you should ask them before
purchasing.

My next question is about water.... do you still use water in a
closed system or do you dry finish? I plan on trying out the
plastic high-density media first to see if it gives me the finish I
am wanting. Can this be used dry? 

Most medias do not cross over, they are either designed to run wet
or dry, not both. A wet media that is run dry will glaze over very
quickly rendering it useless, also creating extreme wear on the
inside of the barrel/bowl. The high density media we carry is
designed to run wet.

Now glass is a different story, I have gotten great results making
sea glass using wet media.

Feel free to e-mail me or call me if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Thackeray Taylor
Rio Grande Technical Support
800-545-6566 ex 13903
@Thackeray_Taylor


#5

Carrie - a flow thru system is usually done with a limited water
source - mine is 5 gallons. The solution goes thru the tumbler and
out the bottom to the original 5 gallon bucket. An aquarium pump is
located above the bottom of the bucket to avoid recycling the junk
that was washed out of the tumbler. My pump support is made of some
perforated plastic held together with electrical ties. Most of the
medium to medium fine media will give you a nice matt finish. You
can run a closed system with water in the media, but you run the risk
of having the liquid get gunked up and fowling up your jewelry. The
alternative is to stop the tumbler every couple of hours, drain the
liquid, refill it, and run some more. IMHO it’s a whole lot easier
to recycle the rinse water with a flow-thru system.

And by the way - you never put the rinse water down the sink - it
will clog your plumbing in a very short time.

And to answer your question about the tumbler on the Dillon site,
that is for dry finishing cartridges. Without major modification, it
will not run a flow thru system. Running abrasive media dry is not a
good idea - where does the stuff you abrade going?

Judy Hoch


#6

I live in an area where water is precious (shouldn’t it be that
everywhere ).

I do a lot of lapidary work and I drain the water from the machine
into a 5 gal bucket. About five inches above the bottom I insert a
drain with a hose that drains into another bucket which has an
aquarium pump in it to pump the water back to the wheels. And as Judy
does the pump is elevated. The residue from the grinding, sanding
process remains in the first bucket since the drain is 5" above the
bottom so the clean water goes into the second bucket where the pump
is located. Hope this is understandable.

Another thing I’ve found helpful is that since my hands are being
sprayed by water in the lapidary process I put an aquarium heater in
yet another 5 gal bucket which is the original source of the water
that goes to the wheels.

www.kevinpatrickkelly.com