[Tumblers] recommend a brand

I would like to purchase a small capacity vibratory tumble. I
remember seeing some cash and carry show special offers on
tumblers last year in Tucson. Can anyone either recommend a
brand or suggest any brands to avoid? Linda M

Hi Linda,


I’ve been using the smallest ‘Gemstone’ model T-8 vibratory
tumbler with about 7 lbs. of steel shot for 10 years. It works
great & has given me no trouble.

Gemstone usually shows in the lobby of the Holidome at the Feb.
show. You may find show specials on this unit at the show. It
usually sells for about $90.00 at various dealers around the US.


I have used a Calloway tumbler (now called "Lot o Tumbler"or
something similar) for many years. I bought it because it was
cheap and I used it initially for rocks. It’s now used with
stainless steel shot. The opening is very small and getting
burnished pieces out is a pain, but it works ok. If you are going
to tumble small quantities of rocks, this would work alright. If
you will be using the machine to burnish jewelry, then spend a
bit more money and get a model with a bigger top. As a price
guide, Bourget Bros. offers an Ultra Vibe tumbler with a 10lb/3
quart capacity for $149.95.

One other thought. I am in Tucson for most of the shows and I
have never seen much discounting of lapidary merchandise. The
one exception is at the Congress Street Expo - the big tent show
on Congress just west of the freeway (the show in which the tent
blew down on top of the exhibitors last year). All of the major
lapidary equipment manufacturers have separate tents at this show

  • Diamond Pacific, Raytech, Graves, etc. While none of the
    manufacturers will provide much in the way of discounts (they
    all have dealers operating at the shows and don’t want to
    undercut them) at least one dealer will give you a great discount
    on equipment which he can pick up from the manufacturer’s tent
    show. I bought a Genie (Diamond Pacific) cabbing machine from
    Richardson’s, located almost directly across from the Diamond
    Pacific tent. I got a very large discount and paid the invoice.
    Mr. Richardson walked across to the Diamond Pacific tent, got
    the machine and loaded it into my vehicle. I bought a large
    vibrating lap the same way last year.

Hope this helps.

John E McLaughlin

Linda, I have 2 vibrating tumblers, a Lyman and a Midway. I’ve
been using the Lyman about 3 years and the Midway some months.
They are marketed for brass polishing and as they are meant to
use walnut or corncob polishing media are probably lighter weight
design than jeweler’s tumblers. But I have been using standard
ceramic cones and pyramids to cut down silver without problems.
The plastic bowls and lids are replacable, costing about $10 So
I have one for green, one for blue and one for corncob media. The
top screws will rust but are of a standard hardware store size.
The Lyman cost me $79 with 2 bowls and the Midway cost $40.

Hi Linda,

I have a mini mag from Gesswein (Korean made I think). I have
come to consider it an indispensable tool in the shop. Be aware
that it only burnishes and won’t smooth anything. The problem is
that the clear plastic tumbling bowl keeps cracking, we have gone
through four so far (in a year). Gesswein said to alternate the
bowl with a second one to prevent overheating, we have still had
cracking and are ready for our fifth bowl. You have to transfer
all the stainless steel needles from bowl to bowl (not easy to
do), or buy another 2 lb. on needles for $300.00. So I am very
happy with the tumblers results, but very unhappy with the poorly
engineered bowls. You would think that they could come up with a
bowl that can withstand normal use.

Mark P.

Oh I forget, transfer the shot while it is still underwater. As
the water pours out, most of the shot will too. I do this at the
sink so I can add a little more water to get out any remaining
shot that clings to the side of the bowl.

Best Regards,


Mark, for the price starting at $10 you might want to try one of
the soft injection molded bowls by Midway or Lyman if they are
interchangable in size. Even though I am just a hobbyist and not
a real jeweler I have kept mine going for several long stretches
without a problem using ceramic media. Georgie

Mark, What sort of things do you use it for. I have never usd
one but have thought about it many times. Does it work for
finishing castings? I have heard about it for some chains. Is
it worth the expense space and trouble. We are a 4 1/2 person
shop and we do everthing in house except plat. casting.

Thanks from clear and cold southern Oregon


Hi Mark,

There is a tremendous amount of friction built up in the shot
during each run with any magnetic tumbler. I know you’ve felt
how HOT that water is after just a short 30 minute run. When you
switch between bowls, are you letting the first (hot) bowl cool
down and then starting fresh with cold water? That is best.

If you’ve been doing that and still getting cracks, please let
me know - you can email here or direct (@ElaineEC) or call
me at 1-800-544-2043, ext. 287.

Thanks. Meanwhile I will contact the vendor and see what they
have to say and let you know. (They are in Korea so the answer
will be a couple days at least.)

Best Regards,

(Elaine Corwin)
Phone: 203-366-5400
Tech Support: 1-800-544-2043
Fax: 203-335-0300

Elaine said,

 Oh I forget, transfer the shot while it is still underwater. 
As the water pours out, most of the shot will too.  I do this
at the sink so I can add a little more water to get out any
remaining shot that clings to the side of the bowl.

Be careful if you do this over the kitchen sink. If the sink has
a garbage disposal installed, any pins/shot that get into the
garbage disposal will make a lot of noise the next time the
disposal is turned on. The only way to stop the noise is to
retrieve the pin/shot from the disposal (been there, done that