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Suitable tumbler

Hello everybody, I am thinking of buying a cheap (under $100) tumbler
for my modest polishing needs. I have several questions: Have any of
you used Diamond Pacific Micro Sonic Vibratory Tumbler, Model KG-1
(2.2 lb. capacity)? Would it be suitable to burnish PMC jewelry and
polish jump rings?

Did anybody try to use “toy” tumblers - those usually sold as
lapidary “science kits” like Rolling Stones or Smithsonian. Would
they be suitable for polishing silver jewelry and jump rings?

Any advice would be very much appreciated!

Best regards,

Ruslana, I use a little tumbler that I bought at a gun shop. Its a
vibratory top loading style that cost only $60 four years ago. The
art center where I teach has the double barrel rolling style that is
sold by Rio. Both these are small but work fine for what we put into
them. I like the top loading one the best. The barrels are tricky to
get the lids on right. I only use steel shot in them.

Marilyn Smith

Hi Ruslana, I’m sure you’ll get many responses about this, but just
wanted to add my little bit. I just recently purchased a Lortone
2-barrel rotary tumbler for polishing/hardening chains. I am quite
happy with it. I purchased it from Kingsley North
( on sale for less than
$100. You can pick a single barrel up for even cheaper, and I have
heard nothing but good things about Lortone’s tumblers. They would
be quite suitable for exactly what you want to do.

Hope this helps!

Carrie Otterson
Wired Contemporary Jewelry

Hi Ruslana,

 Hello everybody, I am thinking of buying a cheap (under $100)
tumbler for my modest polishing needs. I have several questions:
Have any of you used Diamond Pacific Micro Sonic Vibratory Tumbler,
Model KG-1 (2.2 lb. capacity)? Would it be suitable to burnish PMC
jewelry and polish jump rings? 

I’ve been using a small vibratory tumbler with about 5 # of assorted
shapes of stainless steel shot for over 10 years. It’s worked well &
done everything I’ve asked of it. It’s easy to use & maintain. I’ve
used it on gold, silver, copper, chain, castings, fabricated pieces &
sheet. Tumblers won’t take out scratches, if you put pieces with
scratches in, you get pieces with shiney scratches out.

I’ve not seen the model you mentioned, but mine has a bowl that’s
made from a flexible plastic & looks sort of like an anglefood cake
pan. The bowl is about 8" wide at the top & 4" deep.

Shooting sports stores sometimes sell the same type of tumbler for
less than jewelery supply companies. Reloaders use them to polish
their brass before reloading.


I picked up a tumbler with a 3lb. capacity from harbor&frieght for
$29 it keeps going and going. I am going to get a vibrating tumbler
from Midway I think it’s $49 but the kit is $69 heard about them from
the list.
D=31798 1

Good fortune,

Hi Ruslana, I use a rotary tumbler, Lorton model 3-1.5B. I paid
around $76 new for mine, but I think they are listed at around $100
and works great. However I’ve heard the vib tumblers work faster.
I live in a apartment and the noise from the vib tumbler was a little
much for me.

Good luck on your search.

Terri Collier
Dallas, TX

 Did anybody try to use "toy" tumblers - those usually sold as
lapidary "science kits" like Rolling Stones or Smithsonian. Would
they be suitable for polishing silver jewelry and jump rings? 

Ruslana , they will work at least once or twice. In other words,
they don’t have a long life cycle. They are also very noisy. The
best “cheep” tumbler is the Loretone 1.5 or 3 lb tumblers. They
last for ever and if something goes bad, it can be replaced. The
micro sonic is also a good tumbler, a little noisier but faster than
the Loretone. Another good one is the Gyroc. It works great with
mixed steel shot and soap. Above these, you are getting into some
high priced units. The real question is the size of the pieces your
are working. The Lortone is limited to pieces the size of a golf
ball or smaller. The Micro sonic should handle a pieces a bit
larger as it is a vibrator type vs a rotary tumbler. The Gyroc is a
vibrator type, driven by a motor. Its tub is in the shape of an
Angel Food Cake. It will handle chains nicely as well as rings, but
the bracelets might be a problem.

Don Rogers

Ruslana -

Try a gun shop for your vibratory tumbler - they are much cheaper
there than in our world. Gun people use them to polish their
casings. Last time I looked there were some decent ones in the 45-65
range. There are lots of them on-line, so you could do a search.


Hi Ruslana, I too have an inexpensive Lortone tumbler (3 small
barrels) which I got about 15 years ago from TSI in Seattle. Cost
me well under $l00, and does an excellent job on polishing things
including cast items. I just use plain steel shot (assorted
shapes), and plain old Ivory soap (low tech but it gets the job
done). I am carefull to dry the shot each time. If it is a sunny
day, I set it outside and let the sun dry it. On rainy days I pop
it into my toaster oven for a few minutes. I believe that from time
to time Harbor Freight has small tumbers for around $75.00. You
might want to check them out. However, the Lortone is virtually
trouble free, so may be worth the few extra dollars. Hopes this
helps. Alma


thanks for the report on Harbor Freight’s tumbler. I’ve seen it
several times and have wondered about it. I have two small Lortones,
and have replaced the belts a couple times, but I know the motors are
wearing after 10+ years. I was also interested in the larger (3#)

FYI, I bought two of the vibrating tumblers from Midway 3 years

ago. They work very well. Be aware that they are for dry use - I
use a medium walnut shell charged with Meta-Glos (from Rio) in one
and a small walnut shell charged with rouge (no longer sold). They
were on sale when I bought them, and the convenience of having a
tumbler for each media was worth the cost! Go Orchid! and thanks
Hanuman for running this show. Judy in Kansas

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
Biological and Agricultural Engineering
237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936

Hi All,

A word of caution about the inexpensive toy rock tumblers. While the
plastic barrels won’t last very long, the effect on a child may. You
could inadvertently set the impressionable youngster on a lifelong
course of looking at rocks and gems, wasting weekends at rock shows,
wanting to stop at every rock shop they see in order to get a "fix."
This can be a “starter” habit that leads to more serious
experimentation with things like cutting cabochons, faceting and even
jewelry making. In a serious case, it can even lead to opalholism and
long, sleepless hours spent in isolation feeding the habit. If left
untreated, the condition can last a lifetime, and no cure is
permanent. Even after a successful intervention, users have been
known to return with abandon after years of remaining “clean.”

I’m speaking from personal experience. I have learned to live with
my addiction, trying to keep it in precarious balance with my family
life and other, seemingly important responsibilities. Nevertheless, I
can’t help but wonder what a normal, well-adjusted person I might be
today if my parents, with the best of intentions, had never brought
that dastardly device into the house.



Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)

I have seen a number of inquiries about tumblers, if they do not get
scratches off, what is the purpose of tumbling. I have my humble
beginnings as a polisher in a trade shop and so I work all pieces by
hand. i fabricate and I would greatly appreciate any info on your
tumbling techniques on metal, to finish and for hardening. I have
a friend who made polymer clay pieces and tumbled them routinely.
Thanks in advance, Mary

I am a newbie. Just converted a grinder to a polisher. It works
pretty well (me being the only limitation). When would a tumbler be
better than a polisher? Is it safe to put most finished jewelry in
them with stones already set?

J. S. Ellington
J.S. Ellington Jewelry Designs
Midland, Tx


There are a couple of advantages to tumbling. First, the tumbling
will polish the piece (not removing scratches), adding a beautiful
"sheen" to it and helping it achieve (with the right polishing media)
a bright, glossy finish. Second, and most important with chains or
"fragile" pieces, tumbling with steel shot work hardens the piece in
a way that is not generally achievable otherwise.

Karen Goeller

If you tumble it wth the special soap and the (stainless) steel bits
for about 30 minutes, it not only gives it a nice final polish,but
also work-hardens it considerably. Margaret

Mary - learning to polish in a trade shop will teach you the basics
of finishing metals. You understand that scratches are removed in
steps - bobbing compound first for big scratches, and then stepwise,
to rouge for high polish. You have seen how different buffs can
affect detail work.

Tumbling does all of this, and in my opinion, more.

Just as in hand finishing, you do have to prep the pieces with file
and sanding to get to the basic shape. Then you would use an
aggressive media in a flow-thru vibratory tumbler to remove the
deepest un-evenness. Again step wise, a medium abrasive media, then
burnishing in a rotary tumbler with stainless steel shot or ceramic
media. A high shine can be achieved in a dry vibratory tumbler with
cob or shell or wood bits and some kind of polish compound. Just as
in hand finishing, you can add or modify steps, based on what finish
you want.

The advantages of mass or tumble finishing are that you can finish a
lot of stuff very consistently without the mess and human time
required for hand finishing. Further, there are some kinds of
jewelry that should never be finished on a buff - for example
chains. I love to hand make chains and finishing them was the
initial reason I got interested in mass finishing. I now believe
that what I finish in my tumblers is better than can be done
economically by hand. The finish on my forged chains is superb -
high polish, no orange peel or scratches. And I can breathe.

A self serving blurb - I wrote a small book on the subject “Mass
finishing for handmade jewelry” It is available from Rio, Frei and
Borel and some local supply shops. You might find it useful.

Judy Hoch, G.G. @Judy_Hoch