Polishing silver chain necklace with lapiz lazuli cabochons and
tigers eye beads
Hi I want polish a chain necklace with lapiz cabs and tigers eye
beads. I'd like to put it in tumbler but I'm not sure if the stones
will be ok. I do have a flex shaft and all the basic tools.
It's the first time I've posted here, have done some basic metalwork
classes and read loads of books so hope my questions are not too
basic. I enjoy reading all the posts even though many are beyond my
experience. I discovered this hobby by accident but I'm completely
hooked. Any tips I can pick up here to improve my work will be much
If its a customers then its a risk you shouldnt take. If its yours
then if it damages the stones its your loss.
Id use Goddards plate powder on a soft bristle brush, with the
necklace held taught on a piece of soft wood to keep it rigid. Brush
till the its polished then clean with a polishing cloth.. Theres no
risk this way.
If you had some spare beads then you could run a trial to see if
your barreling system is safe to use.
Ted in Dorset UK.
The media you use in the tumbler determines whether or not you can
safely tumble those stones. They are relatively soft and will be
damaged by metal or ceramic media. The only media I would use to
tumble those stones set in silver is walnut shell.
Judy in Kansas, who just bought a nice lot of lovely cabs!
I would definitely use the flexshaft to polish a chain like you
I want polish a chain necklace with lapiz cabs and tigers eye
beads. I'd like to put it in tumbler but I'm not sure if the
stones will be ok. I do have a flex shaft and all the basic tools.
Could you please clarify what you mean by polish? Is it to make a
new piece shiny or to remove tarnish or to smooth and then burnish
Abrasive media that would smooth the chain will damage the finish on
the tiger eye and lapis. If you want to clean up tarnish, you can use
a Speed Brite and electronically clean the metal.
If you are talking about putting the chain in steel in a rotary
tumbler, the steel probably won't harm the stone finish, but if they
have any flaw, no matter how tiny, the stones could be cracked or
To be safe, clean the piece by hand with a polish cloth. In no case
should you use any buffing machine or a flex shaft. Rotary machines
and chains never mix. Ever.
Nobody seems to have mentioned the dangers of polishing chain with a
flexshaft or polishing motor! It's not a safe thing to do, as it gets
so easily caught and turned into a missile or finger catcher/crusher!
I wouldnt recommend tumbling a set stone as there are so many things
that can go wrong, even if you use the right media, barrel etc.
Polishing with a wheel will neccessitate wrapping the chain around a
mandrel, a length of wooden dowel of about 1" diameter will do well
so you can hold it securely.
and thank you all for your help , I won't, use the tumbler though
the walnut shell is a new one to me will look into that and try with
some trial stones . Think the flex shaft is a good idea.
One way to polish chain using a buffer is to attach the chain to a
3/4" or larger diameter dowel.
To attach the chain put a nail or screw into the circumference of
the dowel at each end.
Then attach a piece of wire to each end of the chain. Attach one end
to the screw/nail at one end of the dowel & wrap the chain in a spiral
around the dowel and attach the other end to the screw/nail. Make sure
the chain is held tightly to the dowel. The wraps in the spiral should
be about 1" or more from each other.
After polishing one side of the chain, remove it from the dowel,
turn it over & reattach the chain so the other side can be polished.
To be safe, clean the piece by hand with a polish cloth. In no
case should you use any buffing machine or a flex shaft. Rotary
machines and chains never mix. Ever.
Really, What are these for then...
Perfectly safe when used as directed.
If the chain will take it..I would use a small magnetic tumbler...it
will brighten up in a bout 10-15 min.
I agree with never polish a chain on a buffer. I witnessed a girl
break her thumb all the way back to her wrist. Why take the chance on
any ACCIDENTS of this proportion when a tumbler is the answer. It is
like having another employee.
Nobody seems to have mentioned the dangers of polishing chain with
a flexshaft or polishing motor! It's not a safe thing to do, as it
gets so easily caught and turned into a missile or finger
I've used a flexshaft to polish a chain. I wrap it around a flat
piece of wood and polish it in tiny spurts. I try to keep my fingers
away from buffers of any kind and chain.
Polishing chain on a rotating wheel of any sort is risky to say the
least, IF you dont support it properly.
The easiest way is as follows.
get a 3in wide by 1/2 in thick piece of batten of soft wood longer
than the chain and cut a groove lengthwise in it that is half the
chain thickness in depth.
Put a screw at one end of the batten through say a soldered jump
ring on one end of the chain and the same the other end of the chain
making sure the chain is tight.
The chain sits in the groove.
Turn over the chain to polish the other side.
Used this way for many years with no mishaps, and I have a polishing
engine of 3hp!
You can tumble with any media you like, if the design permits you to
wrap the stone parts with masking tape, and you only leave it in
maybe 15 or 20 minutes so the tape doesn't hey so soaked it comes
I always use a piece of wood about 2-3 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick
and about 6 inches long.. make sure the chain lays flat on the wood
and your buff is not rounded on the edges. A flat buff helps to keep
the chain in the middle of the buff and not moving from side to
side.. The chain laying on the wood will prevent the buff from
catching the chain and ripping it out of your hand.. but you do need
to be careful as with buffing anything.