Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Vibratory tumbler with stainless shot?

Hello all,

I have a Vigor three quart vibratory tumbler and wonder if I would
cause any damage to it using mixed steel shot to clean/polish one
neck chain or two pendants?

Also the instructions say “do not use with liquids”. If this can be

  1. Can I use the shot dry?
  2. How many pounds of shot is needed?
  3. If liquid is required could I put my work in a small jar (glass,
    plastic, or metal) with the liquid and shot?

I know this is a goofy question but I don’t want to buy another
tumbler dedicated to such a small task.

I have a cheap vibratory tumbler that said “only use dry media”. I
have been using SS shot with liquid and it is going strong after 7

Jean Menden

Just don’t overfill it (liquid). You don’t want liquid to rust out
the central threaded shaft. Maybe you can do something to protect all
metals against rust or threads being stripped. That’s what killed
mine. Besides that, it was an excellent machine until I could not
fasten/seal the lid on anymore.

best regards,
Kelley Dragon


The short answer is it is not going to work.

  1. To make a vibratory tumbler work with steel shot requires that
    the tumbler be loaded at least three fourths full of shot. That means
    that you need about 30 pounds of shot. Stainless shot goes for about
    $150 for 10 pounds. Running less shot will just jiggle rather than
    roll and result in your work pieces having little trails marked by
    the shot.

  2. Shot must be run wet to make it move.

  3. While you might be able to run wet media in this as a closed
    system, not flow-thru, the tumbler won’t move the shot enough to make
    it do work.

  4. If you try all this, you will likely ruin the tumbler - it simply
    isn’t strong enough.

You could buy ceramic bead media and make it work in your tumbler -
it is light weight and runs nicely in a closed wet system. Buy at
least two sizes of beads.

Or buy a little rotary tumbler and a couple of pounds of shot.

Or for a really cheap deal - put about 2 pounds of shot in a jar
with water, soap and ammonia, and spend a day hand turning it. You
need to turn it end to end because just rotating it around the
vertical axis will have the shot just slip around inside the jar.

The last thought is that steel is for burnishing, to clean the
pieces, you probably want to run some abrasive media first.

Judy Hoch

Judy -

I used the smallest available vibratory tumbler for two years.
Everything worked great except the threads on the central shaft
finally broke down. I only used 2 pounds of stainless steel shot…it
filled the bottom less than an inch deep, and I have water and a bit
of burnishing liquid that barely covered the shot. I got good
results, but the thing was a lot louder than the rotary tumbler,
that’s for sure!

best regards,
Kelley Dragon