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Stainless steel media for vibratory tumbler?


I was given a large size vibratory tumbler about 6 years ago and it
was given to the person who gave it to me at least 3 years before
that. It works fine with dry walnut shell media and it seems stable.
I would like to use it with stainless steel burnishing media for my
PMC and chain work but since I can’t read the manufacturer’s label
because of age (the label’s not mine) I can’t look the particular
model up on the Internet. How do I know if it will work with the
stainless, is there some other way to tell just by looking at how
it’s made or the design of the model? It would sure save me some
money if I could use this one and not have to purchase another one…
Mahalo to the people who take the time to answer questions like this
for me and so many others…it’s so very appreciated :^D

Jackie Sakalauskas
Kailua, Oahu, HI
Aloha Penguin Jewelry & Gems


The vast majority of vibratory tumblers are not going to work with
steel shot. The action is just plain wrong (sliding rather than
hammering) and they don’t have the oomph…the tech term ;-)… to
move the shot around. Your best bet is to get a relatively
inexpensive rotary tumbler (I love the Aubin with the diamond-shaped
barrel available from Metalliferous) for your steel step.

If the point of the steel step is simply to give a high shine, rather
than to work harden the pieces, however, you can get there with the
vibe tumbler by using progressive grits of plastic media, up to the
gold extra fine, then finish with stuff called “green buff” (it’s
very lightweight and “fluffy” - i think i got it from Rio). With the
green buff, toss in a couple of handfuls of wooden pegs - i use dowel
inserts for carpentry in the 1/4" size plus those little round plugs
they use for disguising screw heads in chairs (available from home
depot and lowes). The wooden pegs add weight to the media and push it
against the pieces for a faster and more effective polish. Run it
with no pieces for about 45 minutes to an hour (until the mixture
feels a bit warm to your hand, then add your pieces. Leave the pieces
in there for about 6 - 8 hours and you will have a butter-soft mirror
shine on them. You’ll need to wash them with soap and water when they
come out to remove the slight polishing compound residue, but the
shine is truly lovely.

Hope this helps!
Karen Goeller
No Limitations Designs
Hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry

If it was used with walnut shell; it’s probably not suitable for

If you were able to give more exact info on the machine in hand, it
would be possible to give an exact answer.

Stainless weighs much more than walnut shell so the machine for
stainless needs to be more heavy duty than that for walnut shell.

Look up what you have in a catalog say, “Kingsley North”; there are
lots of pictures.



I work for a company that sells this type of equipment. If you’d like
I will try to help you. Can you take a picture of the unit and e-mail
it to me, my direct e-mail is below. It might be better if you e-mail
a picture of the side top and bottom. Hopefully, it will be enough to

Thank you!
Diane Carlton, A.J.P.


Thank you for the help, I’m currently pet-sitting until the 1st but
when I get back home I’ll get those pictures for you. Let’s keep our
fingers crossed…


I love the Aubin with the diamond-shaped barrel available from

I agree with Jackie about the Aubin Tumbler. Its the best. I also
sell it in my store. You can see pictures and learn more about it at
my webstore. I sell it at a great discount.


Jackie - to find the volume of your tumbler, detach the bowl from
the stem, pour in water to the top of the center cone, and measure
how much you have. That would give you the corresponding volume. Then
go to a vibratory supplier and read how much steel is needed for that
volume. Or you can calculate the amount needed. Steel should fill the
bowl to at least two thirds full. Steel shot weighs 43 pounds per
gallon or about 11 pounds per quart. Cost today is about US$15 per

Often it is more cost effective to purchase a small rotary tumbler
for something under US$100. A rotary tumbler rated for six pounds of
rocks would be effective with six pounds of stainless steel shot.

The unknown in your situation is whether your vibratory tumbler is
strong enough to roll steel shot so that it would burnish your work.
An under-powered or under filled vibratory tumbler just jiggles the
steel and does not burnish it.

Since PMC is softer and less dense than sterling, the usual
alternative of ceramic beads for polishing is not effective.

Judy Hoch

There is a wonderful Vibratory Tumbler, that is extremely effective,
both with Dry and Stainless Shot. Its primary source is Diamond
Pacific, a wonderful Family owned Jewelry products company in
Barstow California.

The link to this specific tumbler, is

It is a heavy duty, very dependable tumbler, and is very economical
to run. Hugs, Terrie A very satisfied customer, who much appreciates
all Diamond Pacific does for this community.

Aloha everyone for your help and I’ll let you know how
it turns out. If all else fails well, I guess I’ll just have to buy
one that will work with the SS shot…