If your pieces got mangled in your rotary tumbler there are,
perhaps, only two reason that might have happened:
- your pieces are too thin walled or
- you had too much shot in the tumbler.
Try reducing the amount of shot in the tumbler and try again. I
don't know how large your rotary tumbler is, so I can't tell you
exactly how much shot to use, but, you don't really need a lot
(perhaps, a handful of shot to a barrel whose volume is 8-10 cups
water). Rotaries are good old workhorses. Over 30 years of using
them, I've never worn one out. My husband found a small rock tumbler
at a flea market recently, two barrels, and the barrels are easier to
open than my old rotaries. Works very well tumbling my jewels and
only cost a few bucks. Also, your friend and mine, Harbor Freight
sells a cheap rotary that is also easy to open (I use one for
teaching PMC workshops).
I've not used a vibratory, so I'm not much help in that category.
However, I have a small magnetic tumbler which is one of the best
investments I've made. The shot is lightweight and the tumbling time
is reduced considerably. The polishing from this tumbler does get
into the crevices that deep- and fine-textured metal requires,
especially metal clay right out of the kiln. A Mag. tumbler is worth
the expense in the long run (and the short run). I bought mine from
Rio, but other suppliers have them, too. Contact me via my email or
phone and I'll give you model number, etc., if you want.