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Tumble finishing

Joel - tumble finishing is pretty straightforward.

For castings, first you need a medium to heavy abrasive media then a
finer abrasive media. Follow with stainless steel. If your pendants
have some texture, that should be the end of it. If they have broad
shiny surfaces, you need a final step with some kind of wood or shell
mixture charged with chrome oxide or Simichrome.

All of the stuff except the steel can be run in a small vibratory
tumbler. The size of the tumbler will influence finish quality and
running time. You need a rotary tumbler for the steel.

Unfortunately, doing it on the cheap will cost more because you will
eventually want to get the right equipment anyway.

Tumble finishing will soften edges, but not nearly as much as using a
buff. If you omit the abrasive steps and use only steel - you will
get a shiny rough surface, kind of like using rouge without tripoli

I wrote a small book on the subject - “Tumble Finishing for Handmade
Jewelry” that pretty much covers the basics. Rio Grande sells it.

Judy Hoch

Judy I have your book on tumble-finishing. I plan on tumbling chain
and the people at rio grande suggest a vibrator rather than a rotary
tumbler for chain. Also what kind of pump would you suggest for a
flow through system? Would the pump be adjustable in order to adjust
the flow? I appreciate any tips you could send me. Thanks, Vince
LaRochelle, Eugene, OR.

Judy, Joel and all others interested in mass finishing; I read Judy’s
book and totally agree with her recommendations and would recommend
the book to anyone. I would also like to pass on that Rio Grande
offers a service where as, interested parties can send castings and a
complete process will be worked up free of charge. A lab report will
then be sent back with all the steps including the media, compounds,
machines used and time cycles. As Judy said, there are many different
types of machines and each has a different action, speed and final
result. The key in mass finishing is to keep the pieces apart in the
process, which includes using the appropriate compound and part to
media ratio. I have been able to produce near hand buffed (not
completely) product saving a GREAT deal of time in the final buff
stages. Please contact me off line if you need more about
the service available from Rio Grande. Regards, Joe Lovato