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Tumblers...vibratory versus magnetic


At the Tucson show, sawe some new “magnetic” tumblers, which
appear to use the same principle as a magnetic laboratory

Anyone had any experience using magnetic versus vibratory? I’d
hate to toss the new vibratory tumbler that I have, sitting newly
in its unopened box.

Mark Z, Denver


A friend invested in one once they got to under $1,000. She
loves it. I saw it work, and was very impressed. Wonderful for
her work which has lots of little parts that need to be
pre-finished before assembly. Works much more quickly, and less
noise. Cindy

Cynthia Eid


Hi Mark,

If I understand your comparison correctly, it maybe a little in
error. My impression of the magnetic stirrer is a small plastic
encapsulated bar magnet or magnet material is put in a beaker of
liquid. The beaker is set on a platform that has a motorized disc
with 1 or more magnets attached. When the motor is energized the
magnetic attraction between the magnets on the rotating disc
cause the encapsulated magnetic in the beaker to rotate in
coincidence with them, thus stirring the liquid in the beaker.

The magnetic ‘tumblers’ generally have a plastic container
containing a quantity of stainless steel pins in a liquid
solution containing a non-sudsing detergent. The container is
supported by a nonmagnetic platform, below which a motor driven
disc containing a number of magnets is mounted. When the motor is
running the magnets rotate causing the pins & other items in the
container to rotate. The rotating/tumbling action of the pins &
liquid in the container cause other items to be
cleaned/brunished. The cleaning/burnishing cycle times are quite
short, usually under an hour. The magnetic tumblers are available
in several sizes starting with one that holds about 1 quart of

The pins are available in several sizes (diameters & lengths).
They have just enough nickel in them to prevent rusting, but not
enough to make them non magnetic.

I’ve not used one of the magnetic tumblers, but have used a
small vibratory tumbler with assorted shapes of steel shot for a
number of years. Given the cost differential between the magnetic
units ($400.00+) & the vibratory ($125.00+)(shot/pins included in
each), my vibratory will be around for a while.

It should be pointed out though, that the pins used in the
magnetic units are capable of getting into much smaller spaces
than the assorted sized shot. If you need to clean/polish items
that have small confined spaces, e.g. filigree etc., the magnetic
unit may be the way to go.



This keeps coming up on the list. It seems that selling magnetic
tumblers is not a bad business to be in at the moment. I have had
one for a little over a year and really love it. I also have a
vibratory tumbler that was hardly ever used because it takes
sooooo looong. I guess if you are fortunate enough to not work
under any great time constraints the vibratory might actually
give better results if you use more than just steel shot. The
magnetic tumbler will burnish your pieces to a shine, inside and
out in about 30 min. It is good for very smooth or refinished
castings, fabricated and assembled pieces and the difficult to
polish tight place such as under a head that you can’t reach.
The vibratory type tumbler can actually refinish or smooth the
not too rough casting if you have lots of time and are willing to
change the media for the various steps. If you are just using
steel shot in your vibratory tumbler, I think you will get a
better result with the magnetic tumbler even if you remove time
as a consideration. That’s because the needles in the magnetic
tumbler get into much smaller places.

I got my tumbler from Gesswien, its the mini mag II, it ran
around $1300.00. I am really happy with it. We have had to
replace the bowl due to cracking. Elaine Corwin of the Technical
Dept. at Gesswein has been an actual saint in standing behind
their product and finding a way to resolve it. I think part of
our problem is that everyone in the 6 person shop has found a
use for this tool and it runs all the time.

Mark P.