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Using A Tumbler To Polish Metal

After you watch the video, have a look at our page comparing Tumblers, Ultrasonic Cleaners and Ionic Cleaners.

Hi, Jill Erickson here with Art Jewelry Magazine. I'm going to share some tips on usling a tumbler the reason we use a tumbler on metal is to polish it and also to work harden it.
We use shot in the tumbler and here's an example of shot in a variety of shapes. We'll get a close-up on that for you and the reason for that is the different shapes can get into crevices and put a nice polish and shine on your piece. So I'm going to just put this back in my container this is all dry stainless steel shot. Now you can select a shot compound, a shot that is appropriate for your project, we tend to like stainless steel because it's resistant to rusting. We still have to rinse and wash and dry it but it's not as prone to rusting as steel shot is.

So we want to fill our tumbler barrel with our shot. It's going to cover the bottom, you also might notice that the inside walls of the tumbler, I don't know if we can get a shot of that, are baffled, it's because it's that tumbling action when it turns in the machine, that is acting on the metal. So let me just show you how that inside of the barrel looks before we get the lid on. So that's the action we're talking about.

I'm going to place a couple of copper metal clay pieces in the tumbler obviously it works for sterling silver, fine silver, these are just the pieces I happen to have. I place them in the tumbler with the shot. I'm going to pour enough water into the barrel just to cover the, just to cover the shot so I don't have a lot in there, just a bit to cover. You have a couple of choices for a tumbling agent or compound. This powdered looks like a powdered soap this is burnishing compound and you need just a pinch, will do, you don't need to go overboard with the burnishing compound. The alternative is to use just one drop of dishwashing liquid, that will also work, but really sparing sparingly or you’re going to create a sudsy overflow.

Well we've got our compound or water or shot in our pieces in there we need to seal the top of the tumbler. This particular model the lid fits tightly inside and there's a gasket ring like an oversized o-ring that stretches into a groove that locks that lid on tightly. So let's get our tumbler on the apparatus, you can just see it's a belt drive here and it's going to rotate and tumble that, let's before we start her up it's going to be a little noisy and there will be some vibration so you'll want to set this on a sturdy surface. You're going to get some vibration.

You'll probably want to tumble pieces for a couple hours or more. Some jewellers leave their pieces in overnight. So let's start it up, well we've been tumbling for a while so let's unplug that and take the barrel off. I'm just going to scooch this off to the side, we don't need that right now. We've tumbled some pieces for a few hours here so I'm gonna remove the gasket, take the lid off, just going to I can just fish with my fingers I can fish out a piece that's been polishing and that's copper. So you can really see that that put quite a shine on the metal. Now I want to make sure I protect my tools and I want to dump out this shot. A quick and easy way to do that is to strain it over a container removing all the shot. I'm going to set my gasket and lid off to the side, shake that loose, we discussed earlier the need to rinse shot. I would take this over to the sink and rinse off the excess compound that might be coating it and then I would want to make sure that I dry this. I've just got paper towels laid out. I'm just going to spread that out. I want that shot to dry so that it doesn't rust and it'll be ready for the next time I need to use the tumbler.

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