Tumbling Equipment

Will be posting a mass making of ear wires and jumprings next week. I wanted to show my tumbling operation first because it is so great for especially for small parts you can hardly hang on to for polishing.

Here is the tumbling set up I use. I use it steady and can’t imagine not having it. There are many different tumblers so there are other ways of doing things but this works for me. On the cart there is a large vibratory tumbler and that holds up to 50lbs of stainless steel shot. This is important. I had a small vibratory tumbler and they just cannot handle the weight of steel shot. They burn up in about a years time. The rotary tumblers I have are 3lbs and 25lbs. I love them both for small loads like a single chain. (Never tumble small chains together….big knotted mess.)

The 25lb rotary tumbler is great with plastic media. The plastic pellets are shown in one of the pics. They are medium and fine cones. They remove scratches from metal and are used with the yellow solution on the bottom of the cart which I think has some glycerin in it…it is kinda

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greasy. So, for example if I have multiple pieces I am working on (say a dozen) I can throw them all in the tumbler before you set any stones and sometimes before you place a delicate bezel and let them tumble for 24 hours in medium and then 24 hours in fine and they are pretty much perfect when they come out. The entire surface is one matte finish, no scratches, no sharp edges. (Remove any large obvious scratches first.) These pellets are abrasive so no stones in the settings. While these pieces are tumbling I work on another whole set of designs.

The stainless steel shot is my favorite. It is pretty all by itself! I bought this shot 7 years ago for a really good price. Now it is really expensive in comparison. Your vibratory tumbler needs to be about 1/3 full to work properly. A rotatory tumbler needs just enough shot to cover the jewelry you are loading in it. In this process I tumble a finished piece with stone and all…..exceptions are turquoise, pearls and any other very soft material. You can take a chance and check it every 20 minutes or so.  The shot is not abrasive at all. It is gradually and delicately burnishing the silver. The outcome is great! The blue jug of fluid on the bottom of the cart is for using with stainless steel shot. I don’t really care for it. I like Dawn dishsoap better ~ Big squirt of Dawn dish soap and just barely cover the shot with water and load your jewelry in the tumbler. I have a gravity drainage set up so I can have clean water flow in and dirty water flow out of the barrel. That is the white bucket above the big blue vibratory tumbler.  I only use this on new castings which I tumble a long time. It is not necessary. Check your tumbler load every couple of hours. If the water is visibly dirty then change it. You silver will turn black if the water is dirty which tumbles off with clean water anyway so no harm done. I usually leave things tumble 4-8 hours. I check them often to see the results. You cannot beat tumbling small parts and chain. I have a wire basket over my strainer. That is a vegetable grilling basket. The shot pours through it and the jewelry is caught in the basket so you are not searching for it. Jumprings and earwires I load on a wire so they are not loose in the tumbler and impossible to find.

Hope this helps anyone out there wanting to tumble stuff. I started with a 3 lb tumbler and used it for years…….So enjoy making and tumbling 🙂


About Wild Prairie Silver

Silver and Goldsmith for Wild Prairie Silver Jewelry View all posts by Wild Prairie Silver

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