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Tumbling Problems

Elle - Part of the reason you are having trouble with the process is
that your process is incomplete. In order to get decent results with
mass finishing, you need to do the same things you do with a buff.

  1. The work pieces need to be smoothed - as in tripoli - and for that
    you use some kind of abrasive media. For small intricate parts, I
    use Rio Grande aqua clean cut cones with their non chelating
    deburring compound appropriately diluted. I run that for 4 to 10
    hours in a vibratory tumbler with flow thru cleaning.

  2. The next step is burnishing, as in rouge. this is done with any
    of several media. Your choice of stainless steel is a good one.
    However, your tumbler needs to be rated for steel so that it can
    "move" the media adequately. I choose to use a rotary tumbler for
    that step. If your work is fairly small parts, an old used rock
    tumbler should be good. I found my first one used for $60. That
    step is about 2 hours, run with the burnishing compound that you

  3. Last, and only if your work is smooth and no antiquing - you can
    get a near perfect finish with 24 to 36 hours of Dri shine III or
    green buff in a dry vibratory tumbler.

If you need more please contact me off line, I’d be
happy to help.

Incidently, I use the tumblers because I hate the dust and dirt of
hand buffing. They do save tons of time too.

Judy Hoch

I too have had the rubber breakdown on the interior of my rotary
barrels with burnishing compounds making my silver
brown/grey/gunmetal colored after a few hours of tumbling. I was
probably using too strong a solution of the compound, but since I
never accurately measured, I never figured out the right ratio for my
gallon container.

I went in search of alternatives and was told that a squeeze "Dawn"
dishwashing liquid and water works better than anything else! And
wouldn’t you know it? They were right! I can tumble (rotary) all day
long and my work comes out shiny clean and yes- grease free! (an
unnecessary added benefit, but a benefit nonetheless!)

Hate to throw a wrench into the sales of burnishing compound, but not
to worry…I still use lots of deburring and descaling compound in my
vibratory tumbler!

Marlo M.
Seattle, WA

Ken - On the subject of removing material with buffing - you stated
that buffing doesn’t remove material. Oh contrare - buffing removes
on average 3 to 5 percent by weight - and sometimes much more.
Tumbling removes material but in the range under 1 percent.

You are right that rouge smears the finish, but bobbing and tripoli
both remove substantial amounts of metal. Use a scale and you can
measure the difference.

Judy Hoch