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Tumbler media question


#1

I bought a Gy-Roc vibrator (the small one) and five bowls at a
rock show recently. My question is what is the proper tumbeling
medium for polishing pieces that are fabricated from sheet and
wire. I have a lot of twisted round wire and spirals formed
from round wire. At this time, I’m cleaning them with a brass
brush on a Dremmel flex shaft. I will be using it to polish
finished pickled pieces before stones are set,and want something
that will get into all the corners and crevases.

It seems my choices are between shot and walnut shells. Which
would work best for my pieces?

You’re born. You grow up. You become your parents. You die.

Bobert


#2
.......My question is what is the proper tumbling
medium for polishing pieces that are fabricated from sheet and
wire.  I have a lot of twisted round wire  and spirals formed
from round wire...........

I also fabricate from sheet and use a lot of square wire which
often extends beyond the base of the piece. I tried the tumbling
and found that I ended up with small swirrlly scratches even
though I had filed the ends of the wire very smooth before
tumbling. What did I do wrong or am I out-of-luck using the
tumbler method?

Any help will be appreciated. I feel greedy getting so many of
my questions answered here. Maybe someone will ask a question
soon that I can answer.

Nancy

@nbwidmer


#3
My question is what is the proper tumbeling    medium for
polishing pieces that are fabricated from sheet and    wire. 
I have a lot of twisted round wire  and spirals formed    from
round wire.  At this time, I'm cleaning them with a brass   
brush on a Dremmel flex shaft. I will be using it to polish   
finished pickled pieces before stones are set,and want
something    that will get into all the corners and
crevases.<<

I’d suggest assorted shapes of steel shot. I’ve used this for
years for chains & other small items with good results. Shot
won’t remove dings, dents or scratches, they just come out as
shiney dings, dents or scratche s. Dings, dents & scratches must
be removed before putting an item in the vibrator. Polishing a
load takes about 30 minutes.

I don’t think the Gyrock could handle all the 5 bowls at once.
35 lbs of shot + jewelry would be quite a bit of weight for the
suspension system. Gyrock tumblers are designed for polishing
rocks using silicon carbide & other grits; these charges are
usually lighter than a load of steel shot.

Assorted shapes consist of the following 4 general shapes:

  1. rounds (BB’s)
  2. flying saucers (bb with a rim around the middle)
  3. double ended pyramids (about 4 times longer than wide)
  4. diagonally cut rods (french cut green beans)

An 8 inch dia bowl requires about 7 lbs of shot. Shot is
available from Thunderbird Supply Co (800-545-7968) for about
$5.00/lb (carbon steel) & $11.00/lb (stainless). The stainless is
non magnetic. Best prices I’ve found anywhere.

Dave


#4

Bob &/or Barbara,

I’ve been using a Minisonic vibratory tumbler for a little over
a year now – geat little workhorse with a relatively small
neoprene “bowl” so I don’t need a lot of media. I use steel shot
and walnut shell, each for the particular pieces they are suited
for. However, neither the mixed shot nor the walnut shell
particles are small enough to get into small crevases or tight
corners. For this I would recommend a buffing mixture. This is
composed of a dried fibrous vegetable matter which is charged
with rouge. It will put a beautiful, lustrous final polish on
precious metals, and will get into the tiniest spaces. I use the
mix from Rio (they have one for silver and one for gold) and have
been satisfied with it. It comes in two sizes, the smallest being
10 lbs. (which will last me until the next ice age). Good luck.


#5

I have been interested in getting a maganetic tumbler because of
time reduction. But wounder if this is really $ worthy? How long
does a ring lets say take to be what you concider finisher to
your estimation? Ron


#6
    I have been interested in getting a maganetic tumbler
because of time reduction. But wounder if this is really $
worthy?  How long does a ring lets say take to be what you
concider finisher to your estimation? 

Ron,

I really like mine, but it of couse will not remove rough areas
just burnish them until shiny. I throw everything in after
casting in the morning, takes about 45 min. I think its a real
time saver, but if your waxes aren’t super smooth going in they
will need to be refinished after tumbling anyway. There are alot
of things that you don’t want to remove any metal from after
casting, and this saves all that detail. That said, I still
consider it a luxury item.

I should also say that I have the Korean made Mini Magnetic
Tumbler ($1600.00). I have ordered the American made unit from
Macaw ($1000.00). Its larger and supposed to be better. If so I
will return my Mini Mag. The larger unit has more shot and is
more aggressive, and is cheaper.

If you do alot of tedious finishing on a short delivery schedule
it may be worth it for you.

Mark P.


#7
 I also fabricate from sheet and use a lot of square wire
which often extends beyond the base of the piece.  I tried the
tumbling and found that I ended up with small swirrlly
scratches even though I had filed the ends of the wire very
smooth before tumbling.  What did I do wrong or am I
out-of-luck using the tumbler method? 

What medium were you using to tumble with??? I fabricate from
sheet and wire and never noticed any swirrly scratches (after
tumbling with stainless - the $11.00 a pound , from Thunderbird
and Indian Jeweler’s Supply- in a vibrating tumbler) at all.


#8
 I also fabricate from sheet and use a lot of square wire
which often extends beyond the base of the piece. 
What medium were you using to tumble with???  I fabricate from
sheet and wire and never noticed any swirrly scratches (after
tumbling with stainless - the $11.00 a pound , from Thunderbird
and Indian Jeweler's  Supply- in a vibrating tumbler) at all.  

I started with ceramic media Rio recommended: Sunsheen media -
3/4" blue triangles; then Plastic abrasive clean cut 3/8" cone
Aqua fine cut (both with Sunsheen gold & silver deburring
compound); then went to steel shot from Thunderbird using the
same deburring compound. Lastly I used Rio’s dry red buff. I
put plastic sleeves on earring posts but didn’t cover pin nuts
and hinges with anything. Did I misunderstand the directions??
I also tried just the steel shot and red buff on some bails (both
silver and brass) and these came out with a satin finish - not a
mirror finish. Thanks for any help.

Nancy

@nbwidmer


#9

To N B Widmer

Two questions:

  1. What kind of surface finish on your pieces was apparent (as a
    result of the initial plastic and ceramic media tumbling) BEFORE
    you placed them into the steel shot?

  2. What kind of surface finish on your pieces did you get after
    tumbling with the steel shot, and before you put them into the
    Red Buff?

Actually, steel shot and red buff are, in a way, substitutes for
each other rather than media to be used in sequence. I’ve found
that the shot gives a fine burnished, shiny finish to pieces
which have no surface scratches whatsoever after prepolish stage.
You should be able to take them right from the bowl of shot,
rinse them off, and drop them in cob meal and they should be
perfectly shiny. I use red burr instead of shot for intricate
pieces with a lot of nooks and crevices, but still the pieces
have to be sufficiently prepolished for the burr to leave them
with a shiny surface.

Your problem may be traced to either: 1) not tumbling long enough
in the steel shot or, rather 2) what I would suspect, not a fine
enough prepolish surface as a result of the triangle and cone
tumbling. In another response to Orchid earlier, I bemoaned the
fact that I have yet to find a tumbling media that put a fine
enough prepolish finish on a piece so that, instead of having to
go back to the buffing wheel, the piece could go directly into
shot or burr.

I’m still looking. Does anybody out there have any suggestions?


#10

I have not trusted the advice offered by the sales people at Rio
since one tried to tell me that a PINT (U.S.) was not 16 ounces
(but only 4 ounces instead.) DAAAhhhh??? I thought I learned
all I had to know about “pints” when I was in school . . .“a pint
is a pound the world 'round”, a pound (U.S.) is 16 ounces!

I use the multi-shaped stainless steel shot with the Super
SUNSHEEN DESCALER

(339-391) which removes surface oxide. This compund is made to be used with
the expensive stainless steel shot, and can be used with porceline media, but
NOT with regular steel shot.

Hope this helps!


#11
   I bemoaned the fact that I have yet to find a tumbling
media that put a fine enough prepolish finish on a piece so
that, instead of having to     go back to the buffing wheel,
the piece could go directly into shot or burr. I'm still
looking. Does anybody out there have any suggestions? 

G’day; I wonder if #400,then 600, then 800 silicon carbide grit
together with steel ‘shot’ might give a pre-polish? This
treatment would finally be followed by plain clean ‘shot’ for the
burnishing stage. Worth trying? Cheers,

        /\
       / /    John Burgess, 
      / /
     / //\    @John_Burgess2
    / / \ \
   / (___) \
  (_________)

#12

G’day; I wonder if #400,then 600, then 800 silicon carbide grit
together with steel ‘shot’ might give a pre-polish? This
treatment would finally be followed by plain clean ‘shot’ for the
burnishing stage. Worth trying?

John…Don’t you think that the silicon carbide grit will
remove the high polish from the shot? After all it’s the high
finish of the shot that burnishes the metal being worked. Sol
K.


#13
     John.....Don't you think that the silicon carbide grit
will remove the high polish from the shot? After all it's the
high finish of the shot that burnishes the metal being worked. 

G’day Sol; Quite probably. But the idea I put forward was in
response to people trying to mechanise the tedious business of
sanding carefully with reducing grit size papers. I wondered if
the ‘shot’ grinding the silicon carbide grits against the metals
wouldn’t slowly remove the slightly deeper scratches and dents.
What I forgot to add was that having got a nice pre-polish one
could then use fresh ‘shot’ to finish off by burnishing the work.
Mind you, I wouldn’t want to try it on anything large or
valuable, and it certainly wouldn’t do stones much good. I’d try
it myself but I only have valve-grinding paste and that would be
too coarse. Cheers,

        /\
       / /    John Burgess, 
      / /
     / //\    @John_Burgess2
    / / \ \
   / (___) \
  (_________)

#14
1) What kind of surface finish on your pieces was apparent (as a
result of the initial plastic and ceramic media tumbling) BEFORE
you placed them into the steel shot?

There were no noticeable scratches (pieces went into tumbler w/o
scratches) - it was a pretty fine satin finish. Ran it for about
four hours.

2) What kind of surface finish on your pieces did you get after
tumbling with the steel shot, and before you put them into the
Red Buff?

Here’s the problem - they came out of the shot with just a finer
satin finish, not shiny as a mirror. The red buff added a higher
shine, but still not a mirror. I tumbles for about five hours.

Yesterday someone else said they used Sunsheen super descaler
with the shot. I used sunsheen gold & silver deburring compound.
Is that the difference?

Actually, steel shot and red buff are, in a way, substitutes for
each other rather than media to be used in sequence. I've found
that the shot gives a fine burnished, shiny finish to pieces
which have no surface scratches whatsoever after prepolish stage.

They were shiny, but not what I call a mirror finish.

I use red burr instead of shot for intricate. . . . .

What is red burr? Is this different from the red buff I got from
Rio?

Your problem may be traced to either: 1) not tumbling long enough
in the steel shot 

I tumbled for about five hours with the shot.

or, rather 2) what I would suspect, not a fine  enough prepolish

surface > as a result of the triangle and cone

tumbling. 

I was satisfied with the ceramic and plastic media. It looked
the same as bobbing compound on a soft fluffy buff or red tripoli
leaves it.

Nancy

@nbwidmer


#15

Sol,

Excellent point. The SiC grit would indeed quickly remove the
polish from the steel shot, and would subsequently hinder its
effectiveness as a burnishing medium.

The problem with trying to find a great prepolish media is that
no one seems to have developed one that works to bridge the gap
– between the good available coarser media use for cut down, and
the good available media for final polish. All of the so-called
prepolish media I’ve used do not put a smooth enough finish on
the pieces so that they can go directly into final polish media
(steel shot or rouge-charged particles) and come out looking
completely shiny.


#16

There is abrasive tumbling media in progressively finer grits
available to be used prior to steel burnishing shot. Using
abrasives with the steel shot would dull the polished finish,
damaging the shot and reducing the burnishing effect.

Tumbled jewelry usually looks… unfinished. It still has pits,
bubbles, parting lines and marks from grinding off the sprue. A
little time with files, rubber wheels, abrasive paper and
prefinishing really makes a difference. After that- white diamond
tripoli, rouge, and you then have a finely finished piece. Richard
D. Hamilton

Fabricated 14k, 18k, and platinum Jewelry
wax carving, modelmaking, jewelry photography

http://www.rick-hamilton.com
@rick_hamilton


#17

Tumbled jewelry usually looks… unfinished. It still has pits,
bubbles, parting lines and marks from grinding off the sprue. A
little time with files, rubber wheels, abrasive paper and
prefinishing really makes a difference.

I’ve been thinking of getting myself a small tumbler and I have
read all input to this subject with interest (and fear ?). As
always it looks like that there are just as many opinions as
jewellers…

You seems to favour the traditional way - I thought that the
tumbler might be a similar boost as the flexshaft and the
polishing machine was to my productivity.

Advice?
Best Regards Lars Dahlberg, Sweden


#18
 There were no noticeable scratches (pieces went into tumbler
w/o scratches) - it was a pretty fine satin finish.  Ran it for
about four hours. 

The LONGEST I’ve ever left pieces in a vibrating
tumbler/stainless steel shot . . . has been 2 hours! Maybe you
should try a shorter tumbling time?


#19

Lars–I found the tumbler to be a wonderful asset saving me
hours of finishing. I wished I had gotten it sooner. I’m not a
big producer, so I have a small rotary tumbler, use stainless
steel shot, which although more expensive than steel shot,
requires no maintenance and saves much time .money and fussing,
and I can do lots of other things while my little tumbler is
working. It is just as helpful as the flexible shaft or the
grinding- polishing machine, and from my point of view, does not
detract from the hand made aspect of the work. I hope this
helps you make up your mind! Sandra


#20

Sandra…Be very cautious. I believed just as you do that
stainless shot needed no/little care. I learned the error if my
ways in a very costly lesson. I know you keep up with the Orchid
postings and I’m sure you’ve seen all the cautions besides mine.
Take heed! Sol K.