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Tumbler struggle


#1

I struggle with getting a complete finish to my work and it was
suggested I tumble it to finish it. A lot of my work consists of
large cuff bracelets with much detail and dimensional add-ons. Up til
now I was struggling to polish with my foredom, but was never
satisfied.

A “Lot-O-Tumbler”, (vibratory), was given to me. I purchased
stainless steel shot and gave this a go. Used a few drops of dish
detergent for a medium. The shot not only got stuck in the crevices,
tubing, etc…but even after 8 hours it was not what I would call
even close to being polished. The piece was ready for final polishing
when I put it in the tumbler. I checked it every 2 hours to watch the
progression. Water level was even with the shot. After 8 hours I felt
it had taken away some of the stamped detail so figured this probably
wasn’t right.

Is there a better medium or way to go about this? A friend suggested
a magnetic tumbler might be better for my work. But right now the
funds aren’t there for an addtl $500 purchase.

Would greatly appreciate any help.
Liane Redpath Worlund


#2

You can use crushed walnut shells, corn cob or hardwood chippings
with a suitable polish designed for dry tiumbling like powdered
rouge. All of these should be available from a jewellers tool
suppliers or a sporting goods store as dry media for cleaning brass
cartridge cases. Steel shot is best used in a rotary tumbler with
polishing soap, again available from a jewellery tools supplier.

Nick


#3
A "Lot-O-Tumbler", (vibratory), was given to me. I purchased
stainless steel shot and gave this a go. 

Only the more powerful vibratory tumblers can handle steel shot -
they will say so in the literature, and some will say, “NOT
suitable…” Rotary tumblers have been put on a back burner
somewhat, but they’re cheap, they work…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#4

I’ve used steel shot in a rotary tumbler with Ivory liquid and a
small amount of water to get a bright mirror finish on small pieces
without any texture. Maybe the size of the tumbler and the shot are
not quite large enough to agitate freely for cuffs…


#5

Liane

Your textured jewelry that I saw on the web would work well with
mass finishing. What you have discovered is that tumbling doesn’t
just mean dump stuff in a jiggly box and get nice results.

First, the tumbler you have is intended for rock tumbling. The
instructions for rock polishing include having four pounds of rocks
and water and abrasive in the machine. So the first clue is that you
need 4 pounds of stuff. Second, the media needs to turn, not just
jiggle. The problem with using steel in a rock tumbler is that the
steel is so dense that the vibration of the tumbler won’t make the
steel roll.

This answer probably won’t make you happy - but you need equipment
that will work for jewelry. Your jewelry needs to move freely inside
the tumbler, and the media in the tumbler needs to roll. I just
tested a similar tumbler for finishing and it was unsatisfactory for
steel or abrasive media. It did work with dry media for tarnish
removal.

I’ve written a small book on the subject - Tumble Finishing for
Handmade Jewelry" Most of the Orchid sponsors sell it. It would save
you boatloads of learning time.

And a magnetic tumbler is a very poor choice for your heavy jewelry.
It works best on quite small pieces. I’ve created massive trash with
a magnetic tumbler when trying to finish sterling silver with fine
silver bezels. I use a magnetic tumbler to finish hand made ear wires
and very small fiddly items.

Lots to learn - but I wouldn’t trade my tumbler collection for three
studio assistants. If you use the machines properly, you don’t lose
detail and you get consistent results.

Judy Hoch


#6

Hi Liane; There are a couple of pointers here first steel shot will
do about all it’s going to do after a couple of hours. Try using
sunsheen burnishing compound from Rio it is made to work with steel
shot. You are never going to get a perfect finish this way but I
have found it will shine up all those nooks and cranies that are
near impossible to get to. If you pre polish after tumbling I find
that it goes much easier in terms of those hard to get to places.
You just have to experiment with what will work best for your
work.There are as many ways to finish a piece as there are jewelers
making them. After 15 years of doing this I still tweak my finishing
techniques form time to time or just try new things I hear about.

Dave Owen


#7

a magnetic tumbler has its drawbacks. $500 is probably not even
close to the price. sounds like you need a larger one. also the fine
steel medium will also wind up in every nook and cranny. i spent
around $400 for a mini one from stuller and it will hold up to 5
rings. it does a nice job.


#8
Rotary tumblers have been put on a back burner somewhat, but
they're cheap, they work... 

I purchased a vibratory tumbler for the ceramic media and a rotary
tumbler for the stainless steel. I love both of them, and they work
well together.

I bought them from Santa Fe Supply co… and was originally going to
purchase enough stainless shot for the vibratory tumbler. The guy
talked me into getting the rotary tumbler because it takes much less
shot and including shipping it will cost me less to go the two
tumbler route. I love having both. I didn’t think I would need to
run both at the same time, but I have and it’s so handy.

I would consider the rotary as well.


#9
Rotary tumblers have been put on a back burner somewhat, but
they're cheap, they work... 

I purchased a vibratory tumbler for the ceramic media and a rotary
tumbler for the stainless steel. I love both of them, and they work
well together.

I have both rotary and vibratory. Depending on how much work you
process and how large a tumbler you need, consider a Gy-roc
vibratory. You can piggyback two or three bowls stacked on top of
each other, media and shot. Small bowls, so less stainless shot
needed. I believe from my experience with other vibratory tumblers,
the donut shaped bowl allows faster movement and better action for
the media, but the size tumbler I have is not good for larger pieces,
like bracelets. They seem to have 3lb, 10 lb, and 40 lb models.

Richard Hart


#10

I would try to use the walnut shell charged. You might also try the
3 and 4mm polishing balls from your tool supplier. I would make sure
the tumbler is 3/4 full to get the best results. Cut back on the
water as well.

Andy The Tool Guy Kroungold
Phone 800-877-7777 ext 4194