Polishing nichrome wire in Tumble Vibe 5

i produce a line of dichroic glass jewelry. one of the styles is a
dangle earring. when i make these in my kiln, i have a piece of
nichrome wire sticking out about 2". after firing, i form a loop,
cut off the excess, and then polish the wire with a felt buff and
polishing rouge. the result is a shine that looks very much like
silver, and matches my silver earring wires very well.

i recently found out about the Tumble Vibe 5. my problem is
determining what media to put in it. lots of things have been
suggested, and i’m at a loss. first, steel shot was suggested.
then i found out it costs $125 for 6 lbs. that seems like a lot of

now i have been told that i could use carbon steel shot, with a
burnishing compound and water. this would be much less money. i’m
not sure what to ask for when i order the burnishing compound.

i could use some help here determining what the right combo would be
for me to order. none of this stuff is for sale where i live in
hawaii, and i need to get my order right, because returning
merchandise is expensive.

many thanks for any suggestions!
kitty easton
beachglass hawaii
kona, hawaii

Hi Kitty, I live on Oahu and believe me, expensive or not, you want
to go with stainless steel shot instead of carbon steel shot. The
carbon steel may be cheaper initially, but there’s a good chance of
losing your entire investment to rust. Our air is so humid and if
you’re near the shore (I’m within a mile and a half), salty, that
rust is a serious and constant problem. The amount of time that will
be spent avoiding rust will end up costing you more than buying the
stainless shot which is practically maintenance free.

If you make trips to Oahu, you can try and coordinate in advance
with Schwartz, Inc. (1149 Bethel St., Honolulu, HI 96813,
808-521-3857) or 14 Karat Club (2255 Kuhio Ave. Honolulu, HI, 96815,
808-924-1014), two Honolulu suppliers. They might be able to bring
it in for you at a competitive price, especially if you make trips to
Oahu anyway. 14 Karat Club is associated with Sassounian Brothers of
Los Angeles. They bring in shipments from California on a somewhat
regular basis. Also, sometimes, these companies want to unload
inventory and may sell things at a slightly reduced price.


woah! no steel shot please!.. if you must use bismuth or lead bird
shot ,{ watch the lead dust} your glass will not fair well with
steel shot. walnut shells with emery will work also. ringman…oh i
would think there is a good possibility that tumbling can beat up
the glass…

Kitty - There are several things to consider in tumble finishing
your dichroic glass jewelry.

First - the tumble vibe 5 is not robust enough to “turn” steel shot,
you need to use a rotary tumbler for that. A small rotary rock
tumbler with flat internal sides should cost under $100.

Second - I’d strongly advise you to use the stainless steel shot.
You will buy it eventually, after the carbon steel shot gets a bit
of rust and ruins a batch of your jewelry.

Third - I just talked to Gene Lacey, a dichroic glass jeweler here
in the Denver area, and she sets her glass in sterling, then runs it
in an abrasive media in a small vibratory tumbler, similar to the
Tumble Vibe 5. She finishes the jewelry with stainless steel shot
in a small rotary tumbler. The glass after firing will withstand
those processes with no problem.

I’d make the loop prior to tumbling.

Self serving blurb - my fourth edition of Tumble Finishing for
Handmade Jewelry is now available. Rio Grande has a supply and
several other dealers will also be carrying it. I think Hannuman is
going to provide some excerpts for the list.

Judy Hoch, G.G.

Hello Kitty, My guess would be that steel shot of any type would
frost the glass.

Why don’t you take a drive up to Kohala and we can do a test run. I
have four vibratory tumblers with different media including
stainless shot and three barrels with different media.

You’d know how the stainless works in a few minutes. It works very

I think that either porcelain shot or corn cob with chrome would be
the way to go.


We need more of your stuff at the store and I’m holding this offer
out as a bribe.

John Flynn