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Why I make jewelry, and a question

Hi All! I have been lurking here for a few months, and spend much
time trying to read and absorb just a tiny fraction of what gets
posted here. I have “clipped and pasted” loads of stuff, just because
I see so much that will certainly be useful, that I certainly won’t
recall! What an amazing resource all you people are!

I am a rank amateur at this, just making small silver things for my
wife and kids, mostly. Learning slowly. still doing things the hard
way, trying to gain some decent level of skill, though I have no
aspirations of doing this for a living. I read a lot of books, get
all I can find on the web, and look forward to taking in a class or
workshop sometime in the not too distant future.

As to what got me started making jewelry, I guess I am a bit of a
tool and gadget freak, which I think is a big part of what draws me
to this. I also like the idea of making things that will be
(presumably) kept, used and treasured by those I give them to. The
small scale of the work fascinates me, and the attention to detail
and patience required run slightly counter to my personality, so I
consider it great therapy in slowing down my life.

Anyhow, with all of this talk of making a “magnetic pin finisher”,
what is the advantage of such a device over, say, a rotary or
vibratory tumbler or one of those vibratory units with the steel
shot? Are these just different ways to achieve the same type of
finish, or is one better than the other? I think I get the idea of
how each works, but could someone explain the relative differences in
the results? Will these give a better (or different) finish than
polishing on a buffer, or are they just faster/easier when processing
things in quantity?

I have a rotary tumbler, though I never used it for jewelry, and
could easily build either a vibratory or magnetic unit, largely with
junk I have hanging around. Would there be any point for someone
doing small amounts of work?

Anyhow, thanks for all you offer on this list, I am sure I am not
the only hobbyist/beginner/amateur here who is awed by the caliber
of the professionals here and their willingness to share what they


Hey Al

I’m sort of a lurker myself (great word) and I am awaiting my first
posted question with hope for help, anywho, thought I’d share my
tumble reasons with you,

yeah, there are more good reasons for a tumble besides production
purposes and it doesn’t have to be anything too high tech. yours
should do fine, make sure you use a powder soap with it (I use
oaklite) with some water and experiment with length of time. Too
much time may begin to blur some detail you want but you will
definantly notice a cut back in painstaking labor when you then
polish your things. Also, the tumble action hardens the metal more,
great for earewires and such, and for all those tiny little porosities
you don’t see until you start to polish, these tiny ones get
’hammered’ tighter during the tumble.

If you use steel shot, not stainless steel, it should be kept in
water all the time or it will rust. When you then are about to use
it, rinse it well in a sieve before or the mixture when you open it
will be flat and gross, should be all bubbly and clean, then you know
it worked right. Stainless is great because you never have to worry
about this part.(but $$) You can also try other stuff in there, fun
to experiment, like ceramic media or sand gives an interesting
texture (no water here) Also, you say your into silver and if you
want to use patina to darken recessed areas of a peice, this is
perfect for that because it doesn’t touch those areas but will get it
off the rest of it, with polish, you can’t control that as well.

Happy ‘centering’, I’m so with you on that one best- jess

Al, I found the tumbler never to give the smoothness no matter how
long things were left that the vibratory tumbler provides. I have not
used it for other than silver. At times I have to be sure I don’t
leave some things too long and are over burnished by the vibratory
method. I have used both. The vibratory is superior. However, you may
make a liar out of me, I doubt to an extremely high degree that you
can build a vibratory tumber. The reason I say that is in dealing
with them over a long period of time one finds how many things can
cause them not to work such as lack of tight fit, shot between the
magnet plate and the housing, incorrect mix of H2O, too little shot,
too much shot. It has too many variables. I hope you might get a
change to look at one. You of course may have unknown expertise that
you can apply. However it is gonna run you probably $300 to set it up
with steel shot and all if not more by now. They last forever. I have
had mine 20 years but do not work on a commercial level at all, but I
have some professional skills…rusting with none use…Jay