Craine

Guide on Tumbling

104 posts in this topic

Hi all,

I have been looking for guide/tutorial information on tumbling. And this forum contains many discussions, tips and tricks about tumbling.

However, it is all very fragmented and sometimes even contradictory.

Does anybody know of a decent single source of information on tumbling jump rings?

Thanx!

Craine.

Macslass likes this

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Right now I am mostly working with aluminum rings of all sizes and gauges, both bright and anodized.

But it would be nice to have all the tumbling experiences gathered into a single source.

Craine

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Well my new favorite method for tumbling BA is to tie the rings up into a pillowcase, put them through the washer with a load of towels then into the dryer. Makes them very shiny. Others have not had good results. Some people use rice or crushed walnut shells in the tumbler.

Anodized aluminum is not recommended for tumbling as it may wear the color off, but others will have a different opinion. Try a few in your tumbler, see what you think.

SS can be cleaned up by using water and a few drops of dish soap in your tumbler for a while. Some people swear you have to use BLUE DAWN but again, others will have differing opinions.

If you want to de-burr your rings (SS, copper, bronze) you may try an abrasive of some sort to smooth them out but it will also dull the hell out of your rings, so will need to burnish/polish them after. Stainless shot will make them shine. Some will tell you that the shot will also de-burr the rings but other will say not.

lol is this helping you at all...??

It's all kind of trial and error.. Find what works for you :)

madd-vyking likes this

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Okay, then let us make a guide. Let's gather all experiences here in this one thread, from as many different people as we can get. Empirical data and all that.

Here are a few of my first experiences with a rotary tumbler:

So far I have tumbled some AB1212 (both saw cut and machine cut for about 10 hours in rice. And honestly I can't see a difference. They might be a little bit brighter, but the difference is minimal. Also, some marks I made with tools on a few of the rings are still there and a few small burs on the ends of the saw cut are still there as well. Not much of an improvement I would say.

I also added a few scales to the mix. A small silver scale shows no discernible difference. But a large scale was one with the mirror finish (after I peeled the blue layer off). That mirror finish has definitely moved to a dull grey. Still reflective, but no longer a decent mirror. Lesson learned: don't tumble mirror scales.

Then I tumbled some AA1212 of various colors for 10 hours. Again, not much of a difference. Marks and burrs are still there. The brightness might be a little bit improved, but it is hard to tell. A few colored scales I threw in with the mix seem to have dulled a bit.

Am I doing something wrong or do I have unreasonable expectations?

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This is just me but when it comes to RICE I think you have unreasonable expectations. I've used it. Waste of time. You might think it's working because it turns the rice black but it doesn't do sh1t for the rings. Try the washer/dryer. Just make sure there is lots of room in your pillowcase, or whatever you put the rings in, to move. It doesn't work as well if they are bunched up (like in a sock). If you have lots of different ring sizes, try using an old pair of thermal undies. Tie them up in the legs. Maybe put a little Resolve or some other degreaser in with the wash. Using this method will cut down your tumbling time significantly. Keep a few rings out for comparison afterwards. Just make sure that whatever you use to put them in is no longer needed for any other purpose!

I'm not sure if this method will remove tool marks. It may help to smooth out the edges a bit but not a lot. You may need to tumble with an abrasive first then washer/dryer the rings. You may need to do an extra round in the dryer after using an abrasive because all shine will be gone but it will come back.

You may want to look into using tool dip if you are having lot's of problems with your pliers marking your rings. You can find it in hardware stores. Keep it in a glass jar or it will dry out and harden.

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<clip> SS can be cleaned up by using water and a few drops of dish soap in your tumbler for a while. Some people swear you have to use BLUE DAWN ...... :)

ALL HAIL the BLUE DAWN!!!...

(personally I think it's a conspiracy started by someone deep in the bowels of the marketing department at Proctor and Gamble...but I don't want to have the tumbling Gestapo come visit my workshop.... so I've got my bottle... ;) )

Stop messing around and get yourself some stainless shot. Everything else is just half-a**ed (or less)

...and as to compiling all the info, ever written about this at TRL---feel free to do the research and write the book. But I'll expect at least a footnote in there somewhere.

Edited by madd-vyking
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So yeah, I was wrong.

About the rice that is. The first time I tried it, I just added a few lose rings with a lot of rice and got basically no results.

But the second time I added a whole stretch of 4-in-1 and this time I got results. It got a lot cleaner and brighter.

I guess it is not the rice that does the cleaning. It is the metal bouncing against each other that does it. Which would explain why stainless steel shot apparently works so well. I figure the rice is really just a cushion of sorts.

See, this is one of the little things that nobody told me.

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I've used rice quite a lot, and it works perfectly fine for me. I use it for polishing, though, and not trying to deburr or get rid of plier marks or scratches. I don't recall how it is for aluminum since I haven't tumbled it in quite a while, and of course it doesn't work very well on steel, but it's worked really well for brass, bronze and copper for me.

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You'll find that dry rice works on "Bright" aluminium basically, because it's "absorbing" the oils that make it dirty and fugly.

Blue Dawn and *gasp*, I'm going to say it... ANY dish liquid will do the same job, as will any grease-cutter.

One you move beyond Aluminium, you'll find rice and dish liquid suddenly stop working.

If you want a better polish or something that will work with multiple metals, you want corncob or walnut... Corncob can be found locally as a pet bedding for rodents/other small creatures.

An even better polish? Stainless Steel Pin Shot.

As far as deburring goes, you want steel discs, and you'll want to polish after that deburr step.

As far as tumblers go, a rotary will deburr far better than it polishes, and a vibratory will polish far better than it deburrs.

Both will do both... But with a differing degree of efficiency.

As far as personal experience, everyone has one, and everyone will be more than happy to share them with you :) Collecting them all in one place? That would lead to an entire list of contradictions :P

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someone should have warned you , once that blue protective coating is removed there is no keeping the mirror finish for too long, and tumbling them was probably not a good thing to try. they will lose their mirror finish pretty quickly just from normal wear. I think the stainless clad aluminum scales however can be shined up again, but I have to try them out. nto sure if anyone else has tried it either.

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Hi Mistress of Minions (yeah, I am restraining myself from calling you M&M).

The mirror scale was just one of a TRL sample pack. To paraphrase David Bowie here...I am an absolute beginner.

So, I try out stuff knowing some things will go wrong.

And I research stuff...like tumbling and find...uh well...lemme get back to you on that when I find it. :hope:

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You'll find that dry rice works on "Bright" aluminium basically, because it's "absorbing" the oils that make it dirty and fugly.

Blue Dawn and *gasp*, I'm going to say it... ANY dish liquid will do the same job, as will any grease-cutter.

One you move beyond Aluminium, you'll find rice and dish liquid suddenly stop working.

Not true. I've used rice on tarnished brass, copper and bronze and it has made them all as shiny as new. Of course it won't work on stainless. To think so is just silly.

As far as deburring goes, you want steel discs, and you'll want to polish after that deburr step.

I still have yet to see any deburring from steel discs...and believe me, I've tried.

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Let the controversy ensue. :)

But seriously people....add your experiences please. The more the merrier, the better and the easier it gets for all of us.

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Not true. I've used rice on tarnished brass, copper and bronze and it has made them all as shiny as new. Of course it won't work on stainless. To think so is just silly.

As with BA, it will remove oils, etc... But it won't create shine where there was none present in the base metal. You need an abrasive media for that. Rice is just absorbancy :)

Rice works best on Aluminium, as it is aluminium that most frequently gets "dirty". But in a pinch, it'll probably rub tarnish off brass as well... But then, so will Brasso and a cloth.

I still have yet to see any deburring from steel discs...and believe me, I've tried.

Aha, but in what kind of tumbler? :P

Edited by Daemon_Lotos

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Daemon----are you able to deburr stainless successfully with stainless steel discs? Or just softer stuff? Then, when you say polish after--is that just with steel shot--(mixed and/or pin)? Do you use any sort of rouge/etc for any of this?

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Daemon----are you able to deburr stainless successfully with stainless steel discs? Or just softer stuff? Then, when you say polish after--is that just with steel shot--(mixed and/or pin)? Do you use any sort of rouge/etc for any of this?

I, personally, don't cut stainless. So deburring stainless is off my list of familiarity.

As far as polish goes, I have never used rouge, nor will I ever. In fact, I rarely use shot...

A lot of people I trust swear by it, I own some, I've used it, but personally? I love me some corncob.

But then, I'm not trying to get mirror shine out of stainless jewellery.

Edited by Daemon_Lotos

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As with BA, it will remove oils, etc... But it won't create shine where there was none present in the base metal. You need an abrasive media for that. Rice is just absorbancy :)

Rice works best on Aluminium, as it is aluminium that most frequently gets "dirty". But in a pinch, it'll probably rub tarnish off brass as well... But then, so will Brasso and a cloth.

Aha, but in what kind of tumbler? :P

Rotary, of course. As I've said repeatedly, the only tumbler I own and have ever used is a rotary tumbler.

As for a cloth and brasso, too much work for thousands of rings when I can just throw them in the tumbler.

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Rice is probably absorbent. But there has to be a bit more to it than that.

As I stated above, when I tumbled just half a dozen rings or so in rice nothing happened. But when I did a stretch of 4-in-1 (approx 20x5 rings) there was a definite improvement. The bouncing of metal of each other has to have something to do with it.

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Probably, yeah. Stainless shot shines up stainless rings just fine, so it stands to reason that just tumbling a barrel full of same-metal jewelry (or loose rings) may work as well, as long as the rings in the weave are free to move around a bit.

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Loose rings does, yeah. I got a few pounds of floor sweepings from TRL last year and tumbled them without media (after picking out all the anodized bits) and everything came out very shiny.

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Rotary, of course. As I've said repeatedly, the only tumbler I own and have ever used is a rotary tumbler.

This goes contrary to everything else I've heard. Can you explain why?

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You've heard that I use something other than a rotary? Well, I can't say where you've heard that because I don't.

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Hello Craine,

I'm sorry to say that I think your quest to compile a comprehensive guide to tumbling information is doomed to fail. It's a very complicated subject, if you send the same rings to three professional finishing companies you'll likely get three different recommendations regarding processes and chemicals. There are thousands of patents for these types of things and many more trade secrets. Almost every company keeps their specific process secret, even mine.

The bottom line is to find something that works well for you.

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