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Polishing sterling silver problem


#1

I finished a knotted sterling silver braclet and usually I just toss
in a tumbler for burnishing. Because of all the crevices I couldnt
get it to polish to my liking and in addition the burnishing showed
toolmarks on the inside of the knots. Rather than to tediously sand
out the tool marks I had the bright idea of throwing the braclet
back into the tumbler ( using st. steel shot) with some 500 grit. I
let this tumble for a while. When I pulled the piece out it had a
very fine sanding throughout the piece. Thrilled that save me labor
time I then cleaned everything up and then thru the piece back in
with the st. steel sho and some aluminum oxide for polish. its been
24 hours of continous tumbling and the sterling silver piece looks
the color of pewter. Very grey. On top of that I think I lost my
sharp edges of my tumbling shot. I have a buffer, so I gave it a
buffing with red rouge, sleaned it up with a toothbrush. I though
that improved it a bit, so I threw it back into the tumbler to see
what results I might get. It came out grey again. Is there some
chemical process going on? TI thouroughly cleaned the shot so there
definatly is no grit in the tumbler. I feel like annealing the whole
braclet again, pickleing and then tumbling agian.

What steps should I take? I am looking for a bright finish, not a
dull grey pewter look alike.


#2
I finished a knotted sterling silver braclet and usually I just toss
in a tumbler for burnishing. Because of all the crevices I couldnt
get it to polish to my liking

These two sentences are confusing. In my experience, metal shot
burnishes like in the first sentence. If you’re looking for a
polish, as in the second sentence, burnishing isn’t the same as
polishing and metal shot won’t polish.


#3

recently had a similar problem using cerium oxide grit and silver.
You’ll need to

1: Clean the tumbler.
2: Clean the piece (I ultrasoniced mine)
3: Clean the shot
4: use a descaling solution and stainless steel shot in the final
tumble.

Oh you also might have some wax in your tumbler due to the rouge
compound… In which case I would suggest running some stainless
shot in it for 24 hours with rubbing alcohol instead of tumbling
solution, that will clean off the shot and get the wax out of any
perforations in the rubber of the tumbler barrel.

That’s what worked for me… If you are still having problems after
doing that particularly if the silver is still pewter in color.
Repeat the above process but before step 4, run the piece thru with
some fine plastic abrasive.

PS - what type of solution are you tumbling in and what is the total
time for your tumble cycle?

Hope that helps,
Jon P


#4

Stainless shot is usually just used for the final polishing, and not
with any grit. You can use other media which will cut and grind away
the marks beforehand, or else use tripoli/similar compound on brushes
then buffs followed by ultrasonicing, preferably with something like
ammonia etc that will get the fatty compounds off. Then you can
burnish it in steel shot (CLEAN) …preferably a mixed variety. Rio
carries a nice kind with not only balls, but other shapes which will
get into the crevices better. There are commercial chemical mixes to
put in the steel shot, but if you don’t have that, you can use hot
water, green soap and a bit of citric acid. The citric acid will keep
any leftover compound from attaching itself to the steel shot and
getting pounded into the silver.

Jeanne
http://www.jeanniusdesigns.com

PS. Judy Hoch has a book on tumble polishing and she is on this
list…


#5

Hi Gang,

Oh you also might have some wax in your tumbler due to the rouge
compound.... In which case I would suggest running some stainless
shot in it for 24 hours with rubbing alcohol instead of tumbling
solution, that will clean off the shot and get the wax out of any
perforations in the rubber of the tumbler barrel. 

Another very good way to clean both the tumbler & the shot is with
Draino or lye (sodium hydroxide).

Rinse the shot off in plain water & wipe out the tumbler.

Place the shot back in the tumbler & add a little water.

Add about 1 teaspoonful of granulated Draino per pound of shot.

Turn the tumbler on & let it run for an hour or two.

Dump the liquid down the drain.

Rinse the shot & tumbler in clear water.

Return the shot to the tumbler & recharge using your favorite
method.

It works for me.

Dave


#6

Simple Green works GREAT cleaning shot. You’ll never use anything
else once you’ve tried it.

Julia


#7

Lots of good advice so far. it looks like i will try the draino to
clean the st. steel shot. it wasnt my intention to use the steel
shot for anything other thanas a carrier for the grit. I am just
confused why the steel shot now refuses to burnish the silver (or
polish). This is what happens whenyou try and find a lazy way.
another idea I had (lazy way again), was to anneal the silber (which
would bring up the silver agian, pickle and start over. Any comments
on this? otherwise I will draino clean the shot, buff and polish on
the polisher.

Ill look into that book.


#8

While we’re on this subject, can I ask a slightly different
quesstion.? After polishing a lot of silver tube beads in the tumbler
(vibratory), I realized I should have strung them with wire or
something because even as small as they are they are packed with
polish. I’ve poked and soaked and figured there must be some easier
way of cleaning out the inside of these hundreds of handcut beads
that I’m not about to toss. Anybody been there?

Lisa in NY on a sunny but zero day.


#9

To burnish the shot must be smooth, if you used it with an abrasive
you have scratched the surfaces of the shot and it will no longer
burnish.

mikew