Does anyone know where I can find a small tumbler for stainless steel shot?
Also, I would be interested to know the pros and cons of different kinds of
shot and tumblers. I am very ignorant in this area.
I’ve used a small vibratory tumbler made by Gemstone, Simi Valley CA, for about
5 years for polishing sterling. I use about 7 1/2 lbs of steel shot, assorted
The vibratory tumblers, when used with steel shot, polish quicker than the
In a vibratory, polishing (burnishing, really) takes place in all parts of the
bowl. In the
barrel type polishing occurs mostly in the layer of material that is sliding
from the top
of the barrel to the bottom.
When I polish I put in a pinch of burnishing soap (actually any no or low
or detergent will work) & about 1 ounce of household ammonia. Turn it on & about
later its done. The time depends on the silver load & the finish I’m after. If I
loads, one after another, 1 shot of ammonia & soap lasts awhile. When you can’t
the ammonia put in another shot. Real scientific, ain’t it?
I clean the shot at least once a week or if it looks dirty in between. Dump it
in a food strainer
& rinse under running hot water. After it’s drained dump it on a terry cloth
towel & dry.
You can forget the drying step if you’re going to use it right away. Clean the
bowel out as well.
About every other week I add a cup of water & put in a generous amount of Draino
(sodium hydroxide) & let it run for an hour or so. This cleans any residual
stuff off the shot.
Rinse under hot running water & dry. Don’t dry if using right away.
Be sure you keep the lid on & fastened when you’re not using the tumbler to keep
from rusting. You can avoid the rust problem by using stainless steel shot
rather than regular
steel shot. If I remember steel shot is about $5/lb, stainless $15/lb, tumbler
depending on where you get it.
I also have another of the same tumbler with walnut shells & rouge for items
that can’t stand the
shot & ammonia. It does a good job but it’s a whooole lot slower.
Vibratory tumblers are available in many sizes. There’s also a new magnetic
that uses steel pins in a liquid medium. Items to be polished (burnished),
liquid & pins all go into
a nonmagnetic (plastic) container. The thing is turned on, and after a short
time (minutes the
job is done. The pins are supposed to get into smaller areas than shot. Based on
their size they
should. Saw a couple demo’d at the Tucson show, cost about $2000.00. Can’t say
a job they’d do in the real world, they’d been polishing the same load all week!