I'm in need of a tumbler.
Needs to be able to use steel shot (which I have).
I want it to last a goodly while.
I'll be using it a 3 to 5 times a month.
I picked up an inexpensive one from Harbor Freight and it wore out
after just a few uses. L
What do you recommend?
I recommend getting a Lortone. Mine is 25 years old and still
The Nova Tumbler is a good unit.....
Andy "The Tool Guy" Kroungold
I use a GyRoc vibratory tumbler. with stainless steel shot and
Rumble bright burnishing compound. It does a great job of burnishing
All the best
David - For steel, you would like to have a rotary tumbler - The
tumbler should be rated for the loads you are using. In other words,
if you are running 4 pounds of steel, you need a tumbler that can
move 4 pounds. A tiny 2 pound one will hold the steel, but isn't
sturdy enough. The size of the drum should allow for free movement of
the work inside.
My personal choice - but not cheap is this one -
Rotary Barrel Machine
It does a number of things better than the cheaper machines - it can
alternate directions, change speeds and has a timer. It has a cover
that is easy to open and close and doesn't blow off.
If you don't want the bells and whistles, the less expensive
Loretone and Dura-Bull machines work fine.
Judy Hoch, author
Tumble Finishing for Handmade Jewelry
If you need a big one, Covington Industries makes an octagonal
shaped tumbler that rotates upright and takes a huge amount of
whatever you're tumbling. Very solidly built.
Raytec. I use steel shot.
I don't recall the original poster to this thread mentioning the
frequency of use and load-bearing capacity that would be required
for this tumbler. I know it was mentioned that steel shot was
already owned, but not what type of steel shot. carbon steel,
stainless steel, fine stainless steel pins for magnetic
So, that being said, I just want to mention the magnetic finisher as
a possibility. I have a relatively inexpensive one I bought from Rio
that has lasted almost ten years now It's kind of mid-range in
price, the right size for some of the larger pieces I throw in it,
easy to clean, and does the job so very quickly (burnishing the
surfaces of the metals I use). It's so fast that, although I have a
rotary tumbler (with stainless steel shot as medium), I almost
always use the magnetic finisher. It can handle a load of rings,
pendants, earrings easily, although I suspect that it's weight
capacity is more limited than more expensive machines with more
muscle (stronger magnets?).
Hope this is useful,
Cheapest tumbler is a used empty gallon mayo jar you can get from
restaurants and some mixed stainless steel shot. Now you may ask how
I came up with this idea. It's old. Back in Renaissance times they
would take a barrel and fill it with sand and the items to be
tumbled. After sealing the barrel, the apprentices got to roll the
barrel back and forth in the courtyard for the day. What I did when
my cheap tumbler broke for the umpteenth time was to improvise. I had
a big gallon sized plastic jar with a screw on top. I put all my
stainless steel shot in it along with the liquid burnishing compound.
I needed the items in a couple of hours, so I sat on the floor and
rolled it back and forth while watching a movie.
Worked great. It worked even better when my neighbor asked me to
watch her bratty kids for an afternoon. They got to roll the jar back
and forth for most the after noon. They griped the whole time, but
after a couple of hours I gave them a big ice cream sundae and they
were happy. Some times when time doesn't permit us to use the tools
we want, we have to come up with an outside the box idea. Even if
that idea is really old.
I had two Chicago tumblers (Harbor Freight). One lasted for 6 years
and then the plastic fan broke, not sure how. Then the second one
which I hadn't used in a long time the belt broke as did the
replacement withina week. I had bought both at the same time. I
finally ponied up and bought a Lortone 3a. Been using it for the
past two months withno problem. Just wish it had an on/off switch.
I too bought a HF tumbler and as expected, had the belt break within
a week, upon inspection I saw the plastic pulleys has sharp inside
edges and the large pulley wobbled as the unit ran, effectively
eating the belt in no time. I sanded the inside edge of the small
motor pulley smooth and made a new large pulley out of some 1/4 inch
acrylic, cutting out a disc with a jewelers saw, drilling a center
hole then spinning it in a drill and using a coarse small round rasp
to cut a groove. It seemed like a lot of work at the time to put into
such a cheaply made unit but it has been running fine ever since.
For those that are having plastic or rubber parts breaking, if you
are in a shop that is not heated and cooled all the time, it may be
the problem. It is my problem. Plastic begins to break down I think
around 40 degrees F and 90 degrees F. This year I've been plagued
with belts breaking and the plastic coupler on the vacuum pump
between the motor and pump. The concrete floor can be 40 degrees or
less and when something is lifted onto the bench to use, it's cold.
I only learned this is our outside plastic garden thermometer has a
warning on the back side! I said 'aha!'
Your results may vary.
For tumbler belts, vacuum cleaner belts seem to last a lot longer
and are about 25% the cost.