Just about any tumbler, rotary, vibratory or magnetic can be used to
polish (burnish) metal. I’ve been using a small vibratory tumbler for
many years with assorted shapes (rounds (bb size), flying saucers,
diagonal cut, & elongated octahedrons) of stainless steel shot.
A few pros & cons about each.
The rotary tumbler is available most everywhere in several sizes.
Costs is nominal. Can be used with many media. Polishing (burnishing)
speed is the slowest of the 3.
A vibratory tumblers are usually available from jewelers supplies &
in the US can be purchased a stores selling hunters & shooters
supplies for less money. They’re available in many sizes. Cost , about
$50 & up depending on size. Polishing (burnishing) speed is fast, 1/2
to 1 hour. Maintenance is basically washing out the tumbler & shot on
a periodic basis.
Both the rotary & vibratory tumbler can use the same steel shot.
Steel shot is available in assorted shapes & in packages of each shape
in the assorted package. It’s usually available in both carbon steel &
stainless steel. The carbon steel will rust & requires more
maintenance. Stainless steel is almost maintenance free, but costs
about $15.00/ pound in small quantities. Carbon steel is about 1/2
the cost. A small tumbler requires about 5 pounds minimum.
Depending on their size, very small crevices & other spaces won’t
get polished. Any scratches that are in the items being polished will
come out as shinny scratches. Tumblers don’t remove scratches.
Magnetic tumblers come in various sizes. The smallest are capable of
handling about 15 rings at a time. Magnetic tumblers prices start at
about $350 in the US. Magnetic tumblers use small (0.3 x 5 mm & 0 .5 x
5 mm) stainless steel pins. The media used in magnetic tumblers can
get into smaller spaces. The media for magnetic tumblers price starts
at about $35 per 1/2 pound. Tumbling times are in the 1/2 to 1 hour