In today’s podcast I am answering a request that Lisa Weber sent me about mass finishing, and to be more specific, tumblers. Here is an excerpt from her message: “I would love to hear about processes that a small home shop could use to turn out professional pieces in a shorter time. Maybe you could address different types of tumblers and finishers and how to use them with different types of media and solutions for different results. That’s one thing I have been struggling with.”
First, tumbling, if you are working with a casted piece, you will have a casting surface that is a little rough. If you have a Vibratory Tumbler, I would recommend a 2 stage tumbling process, the first stage I usually tumble in a Ceramic Media overnight for 8 – 12 hours. I have my tumbler hooked up to a timer, set it up overnight and get it in the morning. This will remove the casting surface and give you a consistent surface. Then I place the pieces in the same vibratory tumbler with STAINLESS STEEL MEDIA MIXED SHOT for 1-2 hours.
What the Steel does is “burnish” the surface and give you a shiny finish in those hard to get to places. A Magnetic Pin Tumbler also works great for this operation, and will do the job much quicker. Magnetic tumbler media is a lot “finer” and will get into those hard to reach places, like between prongs and fine detail, much better. If you are not dealing with casted products and the surface is a little better to begin with, you can go right to the steel shot or magnetic pin tumbler.
Vibratory vs. Rotary Tumbling Tips
Pros: Quicker – More Durable – Better Finish (sanding and soft burnishing)
Cons: More expensive – ($300 and up) vs. (-$100-$200) Learning curve with solutions (drip solutions)
Pros: easy to use and handle barrels – Less expensive – little easier to use
Cons: Slower – Little harder on jewelry (work hardened) more violent action
I also touched on some stretching exercises that will hopefully prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Here are:
And lastly, I talked about my pick for the “Cool Tool of the Week”. A 6 oz German Style Chasing Hammer.
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