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Vibratory tumbler

Here’s an offer I couldn’t refuse: A vibratory tumbler (Lyman model
600) and one pound of medium for $43. The “media charge” is green,
smells faintly of metal polish and the pieces are the size of corn
grits. I assume it doesn’t abrade at all and is for a final polish.

What should I buy to prepare jewelry for this final polish? It’s all
made from silver wire (both sterling and fine silver) and I have no
interest in casting.


The tumbler was from a gun-supply store,
The manual shows how to dismantle the tumbler but doesn’t say
anything about how to use it. The Lyman company says that even
though it’s their smallest machine, it is tough enough to handle
steel shot.

There are several Internet articles on tumble-finishing, but I
assume they are geared for cast sterling jewelry. My pieces are
fabricated of fine silver, and while the surface changed from the
torchwork, it is not as rough as a casting (there are a few plier
marks, though). Wouldn’t the medium needed for cast sterling be too
abrasive for fine silver?

Then I recalled that silver PMC (Precious Metal Clay) fires into
fine silver, and the folks at PMC Connection sell a rotary tumbler
and only one medium (stainless steel shot) for finishing. I guess it
ought to work for my stuff.


Your green tumbling media could be ground walnut shell. You can
send your piece of jewelry to Rio Grande and they will suggest the
proper media and order of use. I think they actually tumble it for

I used to use Aqua Clean Cut, the little aqua blue pyramids.

Elaine Luther
Chicago area, Illinois, USA
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Studio 925; established 1992

I have a Lyman vibratory tumbler and I run stainless steel shot in
it. I don’t make a lot of things but I have found this to be very
useful for polishing hand made chains, pins, rings, and pendants.
Larger items like cuff bracelets, do not polish well in it. I
fabricate and clean things up well before tumbling.

Marilyn Smith

Marilyn, I have discovered that Simple Green cleaner purchased at
any grocery store, is the absolute best for cleaning your shot. And
good for the environment. Just wanted to share that with you.


     You can send your piece of jewelry to Rio Grande and they will
suggest the proper media and order of use.  I think they actually
tumble it for you. 

Dear Orchid group, Elaine is correct we do run customer processes
for evaluation in our Rio lab. However most of the time we can give a
process over the phone or via e-mail without a lab evaluation. We try
and limit the processes we run to unusual items as there is really no
secret to processing most jeweler items. That being said, if you need
a visual or a sample piece before committing to equipment and a
process we would be happy to do a sample run and give you the lowdown
on equipment, media and cycle times. Also, if you feel the need for
an evaluation please contact one of our technical support agents
BEFORE sending any product. This will eliminate any confusion and the
possibility of your product getting lost in our building.

Thackeray Taylor
Rio Grande technical support 1-800-545-6566
For processes via e-mail sent to (please give all
contact info)