Day 46 Quick Tumbling Tip and Feedback

Holy Cow

Holy Cow!  Today I am beginning the second half of my blogging goal. When I started, I had never “blogged” before and I had never really done much writing, not on a regular basis anyway. I started with a lofty goal of writing something every day for the first 90 days. To MY amazement, I have, so far, accomplished 46 days in a row. Well, as I turn the corner into the second half of my goal, I will switch gears a bit. I will still be giving tips and such, but I would like the site to be more “interactive”, with more input from some of you who stop by from time to time. I would like feedback, questions, and suggestions. I am very close to kicking off a podcast (internet listening) and will be using some of your interaction to make the show entertaining and informative. But enough of that. Stay tuned here at and also at

Tumbling Header

So for the tip of the day, I am tumbling some jewelry in my Vibratory Tumbler, so I filled up the tumbler with Ceramic Media and added enough soap to just cover the media.  These pieces I am working on are raw castings, I de-sprued them, touched up some of the mold lines with a Fine Snap On Disc with my Foredom, and spread them evenly on top of the media.

Tumbling (1) Tumbling (2)

Tumbling (3)

I place the top on the tumbler and write the number of pieces on a piece of tape and attach it to the tumbler. This helps me when I am pulling out the pieces so I know I found all the pieces. I have lost small pieces in the tumbler before, and looked for pieces that weren’t there. If I know how many pieces I have in there, I know when to stop looking. I also plug in my tumbler into a Timer, so I can set the specific time so the pieces come out the same and do not accidentally get overworked. I set this load for 12 hrs.

Tumbling (4) Tumbling (5)

There ya go, a little pre-finishing action to start your week.

So if you would, do a few things for me:

1. Comment with Feedback and Questions for further blogs and podcast either here or on Facebook.

2. Subscribe to this Blog via e-mail so you don’t miss anything. (I promise I will keep them short)

3. Follow, Like, and Interact on

That’s all I got!

Have an awesome day and Shine your world!


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29 Responses to Day 46 Quick Tumbling Tip and Feedback

  1. Laura July 16, 2014 at 7:23 am #

    Could you please explain why you use ceramic media instead of stainless steel shot?

    • July 16, 2014 at 7:26 am #

      Laura, I use both. The ceramic or plastic media lightly sands the surface and smooths or blends the piece. The steel shot burnishes and polishes. Think of the two processes as pre-polishing and polishing. Thanks for the question.

  2. Cathy July 16, 2014 at 7:43 am #

    Hi Doug, Thank you for passing on your great tips and info. I have only used a rotary tumbler with steel shot. I see your answer above regarding using both ceramic media and steel shot, so thanks for that info! Could you please tell why you prefer the vibratory tumbler?

    • July 16, 2014 at 7:45 am #

      I have always had success with mine. Never had the need to change to a barrel tumbler. Maybe someday.

  3. Linda July 16, 2014 at 8:19 am #

    Hi Doug. I first must thank you for sharing with us, My question is do you ever use ceramic media to do a final polish and when might you do that?

    • July 16, 2014 at 8:32 am #

      Thanks Linda. I use ceramic as a cutting media to “smooth” everything. I use steel shot to polish, but I always do my final polishing by hand with rouge.

  4. Maggie Myers July 16, 2014 at 8:22 am #

    Thanks for all the tips you give. They’re all appreciated. I have a question about today’s tip using the vibratory tumbler. Why a vibratory tumbler vs a rotating tumbler? Second, you used ceramic media. What does that do differently than the shot that I use in my rotating tumbler?


    • July 16, 2014 at 8:35 am #

      Thanks Maggie, I have always had success with my vibratory tumbler, I have had it for more than 20 years and never had the need to get a rotating tumbler, they work well too though. Ceramic media is a cutting media that gently sands the pieces before polishing.

  5. Maggie Myers July 16, 2014 at 8:24 am #

    Never mind….I just read the other posts. Sorry to be repetitive.


  6. Stephanie July 16, 2014 at 8:29 am #

    Great idea about the tape with the number of pieces on it. I’d love to see an overview in one blog post of the steps you take to finish a cast piece. 🙂

    • July 16, 2014 at 8:46 am #

      Thanks Stephanie. I would but that might be a pretty long blogpost. I try to keep them short and sweet. But I am going to have longer specialized tutorials soon on polishing, setting, soldering, etc.
      Thanks again.

      • Stephanie July 18, 2014 at 7:42 pm #

        I see that today you continued the steps toward finishing this piece. I was just impatient. 🙂

        • July 19, 2014 at 12:47 am #

          Almost done…… Haha

  7. Stephanie July 16, 2014 at 8:31 am #

    Also, is there a difference between ceramic and plastic tumbling media? I use the green plastic pyramids in my rotary for 6 hours: Maybe a post about the different kinds of media would be amazing (or an interview on your podcast with a tumbling media specialist?)

    • July 16, 2014 at 8:48 am #

      I like that! I will check into it!

  8. John Rose July 16, 2014 at 8:41 am #

    Great series Doug. Really appreciate the sharing of your experience. I would second Stephanie’s comment and request for a more detailed discussion of specific media types. As you know there are MANY grades and types in both ceramic and plastic.

    • July 16, 2014 at 8:49 am #

      Thanks John. There are and I will definitely do a show on the differences in the future.

  9. Naomi July 16, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    I would also love to hear about different ways that one may cast, making a basket setting, flush setting, tips about organizing your space, tools and supplies (files, saw blades, sheet and wire, etc.) Also, do you have any tips on keeping track of time spent on working on a project or piece? Do you keep notes about trials and errors? About your projects or experiments? What kind of notes should I be keeping?

    I also want to thank you for the blog! I have picked up some great tips so far and enjoy coming to read your blog every day.

    • July 16, 2014 at 9:08 am #

      Naomi, Thanks for all the great ideas. I will put them all in my ideas bag and pull them all out in the future. Awesome!

  10. Mary Anne July 16, 2014 at 9:56 am #

    Thank you for all the tips and the continuation of my 44 year start into silversmithing. These are wonderful new explanations of techniques that I have not used in years or didn’t learn.
    I have unpacked all my tools and am starting from the beginning. Do you have any tips for etching copper and silver?

    • July 16, 2014 at 10:02 am #

      Thanks Mary. I have never etched silver or copper, but I will try and find someone who does and interview them.

  11. Beth July 16, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    Great idea photographing exactly how to load a tumbler! Also, the idea of documenting the piece number is also excellent!

    • July 16, 2014 at 10:46 am #

      Thanks Beth.

  12. Biggs July 16, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    I tried a tumbler years ago, but didnt get the results I wanted. I don’t think I used the right media. I would like to try it again. What type of media are you using and what kind of soap?

    • July 16, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

      Welcome Biggs, I use a plastic or ceramic media first to smooth the surfaces with a Vibratory Liquid Solution.
      I use a steel shot as a burnisher/polisher with a Universal Burnishing Solution.

  13. Paula July 16, 2014 at 7:53 pm #

    I have learned so many tips in the short time you have been blogging. Thank you for sharing your knowledge! I truly appreciate it!!

    • July 16, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

      You are welcome Paula. I am having a good time too.

  14. Lisa W. November 10, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    Hi Doug, it sounds as though you may use porcelain and plastic media interchangeably? Can you talk more about this? Also, I have trouble with residue left on the pieces after this kind of tumbling. Even using a toothbrush with soap, water, and ammonia isn’t completely effective, and it’s time consuming. Do you have any solutions to this?

    Thank you fir being there to answer these kinds of specific questions!

    • JewelryMonk November 11, 2014 at 9:26 am #

      Lisa, I will do a complex tumbling overview at a later date. I am trying to line up another tumbling “expert” to really dive into this area.