Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Tumble Polishing Problems


#1

After years of hand polishing my small sterling earrings to a high
shine, I decided to try tumble polishing (to save time and
fingertips). The problem I am having is that after an hour or two
of tumbling in plastic high-density media, the pieces develop a very
fine orange peel texture. I’d heard of this happening with steel
shot, but not with plastic media.

My work consists of small (1/4 to 1 inch) parts cut from 24 gauge
sterling sheet, then stamped or planished and slightly domed (very
little detail, no soldering). For cutdown, I’m using plastic
high-density cones (beige medium cut or yellow fine cut) and
Sunsheen deburring compound in a 6 qt. heavy duty Rio Good Vibes
vibratory tumbler (solid bowl). For burnishing, 4-5# stainless shot
(ovals, ellipse and diagonal - no pins) and Super Sunsheen
burnishing compound in a 6# rotary tumbler. For polishing, Green
Buff with 25% wood pegs in the vibratory tumbler. I’ve tried
tumbling in stainless shot first, to workharden the silver, and I’ve
tried a one-step and two-step cutdown, and up to 84 hours in the
Green Buff and pegs, but can’t get a smoother finish.

Is this as good as it gets, or am I missing something? Anyone out
there have any experience with plastic high density media on light
weight fabricated parts? I have about 40# of it and wanted to use
it up first before trying Cleancut aqua or Special Hone plastic
media.

Thanks! Emily


#2

Hi Emily,

After years of hand polishing my small sterling earrings to a high
shine, I decided to try tumble polishing (to save time and
fingertips).  The problem I am having is that after an hour or two
of tumbling in plastic high-density media, the pieces develop a
very fine orange peel texture.  I'd heard of this happening with
steel shot, but not with plastic media. 

I’ve never gone through all the steps you do & without seeing your
finished pieces I can’t compare your finish with mine.

However, I tumble lots of fabricated sterling & haven’t had any
problems.

I use a small (8" rnd x 4" deep) vibratory tumbler with about 5# of
assorted shapes of stainless steel shot (no pins). I use a pinch of
burnishing soap & 2 oz of household ammonia. Most loads take 1/2 to 1
hour. Any scratches are removed before putting the pieces in the
tumbler. I also run the pieces through the pickle pot to do a little
depletion gilding just prior to putting them in the tumbler. Many
pieces have solder joints on them.

Dave


#3

That’s interesting I also don’t do the step method at least not that
way. I just put in the rings right after I cut them add 1/4 of water
and a tiny bit of soap and tumble for about 30 minutes to an hour.
The links come out smooth, bight, and shiny. After I finish making
the chain I take some scrap silver same amount of water and soap turn
for 45 minutes or so and done.

What method does everyone else use?

Guy…


#4
  ....after an hour or two of tumbling in plastic high-density
media, the pieces develop a very fine orange peel texture.  I'd
heard of this happening with steel shot, but not with plastic
media. 

Emily - I wonder if the pieces are nesting in the abrasive. Since
you don’t use a flow thru tumbler, the junk that wears off the media
could be digging holes in your pieces. Try stringing the pieces
with spacers, or twisting each piece to separate on a fine wire - I
use a 28 gauge stainless binding wire for this.

You might adjust the amount of liquid that you are running with the
media. It is just possible that the media you are using sheds
enough abrasive that you could also see this orange peel. If so,
try changing to a clean liquid part way thru the process - or spring
for a flow thru tumbler.

Another thing to try is skip the steel altogether and go from the
fine abrasive directly to the green buff.

I’ve had really good luck with the grey and green hone product as a
two stage abrasive from Rio when working with soft, little detail,
light weight pieces.

Judy Hoch


#5

Hi Emily, We use 2 and 3 mm ceramic beads and Rio Strat-O-Sheen with
similar size cast sterling pieces. It is our final passive step. The
finish is nice but still needs a little time on the buffer. Most
pieces will take a nice mirror finish with just a few passes on the
buffer. Cycle time for that step ranges from 12 - 24 hrs. depending
on # of pieces, etc.

Hope that helps,
Mike Dibble
Carmon Deyo
Black Horse Design
10% of retail sales support rescues.
www.black-horse-design.com