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Tumbler trouble

I have done EXACTLY the same, and the greasy blackness is awful and
comes from the rubber. These tumblers are OK for stones, but with metal
and detergent the black greasiness results.

So, a solution: 1) The greasiness comes off with concentrated ammonia,
soap, warm water and a soft brush. But loads of work.

  1. Buy a proper hard-plastic barrel, or improvise. I have used a length
    of PVC drainpipe and special caps which are sold at plumbing suppliers.
    Tumble the steel shot with a mixture of neat washing up liquid detergent
    and coca-cola (yup, I am serious). Put it in the barrel and whizz it
    about with a spoon until the fizz goes out of the coke, then barrel it for
    about 2 hours. Clean out the barrel and put the pieces in with the clean
    shot, liquid detergent and some ammonia, but not too concentrated. If you
    like, add some fine sawdust as well, to help polish the gunk away.

I hope that this helps.

Yours aye,
Dauvit Alexander,
Glasgow, Scotland.

A soap that is very alkaline or very acid will erode the black rubber of
the rotary tumbler barrel and cause the shot and jewelry to turn black.
And it’s a BEAR to remove that! Use instead a mild soap - almost all
suppliers sell them - that is specifically formulated NOT to erode the

In a pinch, you can use Coca-Cola - no I don’t have stock :slight_smile: - but only
with stainless steel shot. If you use coke with carbon steel shot, it
will rust. Use 50% Coke (classic of course! but I suppose that NEW stuff
would work too) and 50% water. But remember with stainless shot only.

Best Regards,

Elaine Corwin
Tech Services

I have done EXACTLY the same, and the greasy blackness is awful

This may be the time for a repeat and clarification to lining tumbler
barrels with Tuff-Coat. The stuff advertised for truck beds. Anyone???

Another solution to dispel greasy gunky ickyness,(technical term), is to
tumble the steel shot with a few teaspoons of No-Rust powder,(sold
through most jewelry supply houses), and a wee bit of water. Tumble for
an hour or two in this slightly gritty solution, and… Voila! Clean and
shiny again. It is also great for removing rust on the steel shot,(tumble
the same way), and, the addition of this powder also allows for the
storage of the shot in water. I got this hot tip from a large manufacturer
acquaintance of mine. Works like a charm.

Lisa, ( Still whacking the weeds, yanking out the wild mustard, and
chopping down the Sumac in anticipation of the coming fire season.
Snakes seem to be hiding from me, but I did suprise a very cute young
bobcat yesterday.) Topanga, CA USA

The best thing I’ve found for cleaning tumblers & shot (both stainless
& carbon steel) used for burnishing metal is water & Draino or lye (sodium

To clean, just cover the shot with water & add about 2 oz (a small dixie
cup) of Draino or lye. Put the lid on the tumbler & let it run for about
an hour or until clean. Stop the tumbler & pour the liquid down any drain,
i f it’s got any strentgh left it’ll help clean the drain. Rinse the shot
& tumbler with clear water. Return the shot to the tumbler, add a pinch of
burnishing soap (any no or low sudsing soap), a couple of ounces (shot
glass or dixie cup) of household ammonia, place the lid on tightly & your
ready for the next time. This scheme has worked great for me for 10 years
with both carbon & stainless steel shot. You don’t need to buy expensive
products for a simple cleaning & lubrication job.


Would a dishwasher detergent work for the lowsudsing compound?

Marilyn Smith

What kind of work do you do? I’m a neighbor and recently took a wax
carving class in santa monica, but i’m looking for some new stuff to
learn. perhaps fabrication or setting. any ideas? do you show your work
anywhere local? -amery venice, ca

Would a dishwasher detergent work for the lowsudsing compound?

Absolutely, it works fine.