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Craine

Guide on Tumbling

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Ok so after reading all this stuff maybe I should be more specific.  I want to make my stainless rings shinier.  I like shiny pretty jewellery and the rings are not as shiny as I'd like.  I was thinking buy a tumbler and give them a whirl or two in that.  Thoughts????

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Salt and acid for the tarnishing? Ah. I was dealing with second-hand information from one of the threads a couple weeks ago. 

 

If you meant for the polishing, you don't need salt at all.  I've done it many a time with my copper chains.  Just swish it around in lemon juice for maybe 30 seconds to a minute and then wash it with soap and water. 

 

Here is an article explaining what is happening with shining copper.  http://www.cruftbox.com/cruft/docs/cleaningcopper.html  Salt greatly increases the ability of the acid to clean the metal.  

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I usually use lemon juice, which works great...but I have also used ketchup or hot sauce. I sometimes like the ketchup because you can rub it in like a paste and it sticks all up in the nooks and crannies. I wonder if anyone has ever done any research comparing lemon juice to vinegar/salt as a tarnish cleaning agent?

 

;) hint...maybe somebody with free time in abundance could run a search or start up an experiment similar to the one in j_betts' referenced article? (plus a scientific explanation comparing thee two wouldn't hurt...)

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lol well if it helps any, when my kid was in grade 2 or 3 her science project was finding out what made pennies shinier.  Turned out that soaking them in lemon made them a bit shinier than vinegar.  We never thought of catsup lol.

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Lemon juice contains salt. Also citric acid. Vinegar is acetic acid. Unless the citric acid acts differently from acetic acid in some way, I suspect those pennies were shinier because of the presence of salt. Tomato sauce/ketchup also has acid + salt. Nice and corrosive. Just like sweat. Copper will go pink and clean from vinegar + salt (try some heat as well if the room is cold) and the process should be very quick if done properly (DON'T leave the copper/brass/bronze in there as it will eventually corrode) but it won't go particularly shiny as the surface will be slightly pitted. It needs to be smoothed out with a micro-abrasive action like a polishing cloth or burnishing in a tumbler. A tumbler will knock the oxidisation off too but the water goes murky and dirties up the shot and may redeposit on the copper. So I do vinegar+salt before I tumble brass/bronze/copper. Silver can be de-oxidised with vinegar+salt+aluminium+heat. Or pickle.

 

Irrelevant, but fun thing to do: put copper suspended above ammonia for a few days or weeks sealed up and pretty blue verdigris crystals should form on the copper. Not wearable or durable however, and a bit toxic.

Edited by calyx

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If you have access to a tumbler, the soap should bind to murk and stop it from redepositing. There's the very rare case where you need to change the water mid-run, but that's also a thing.

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So where do you get the media for polishing.  TRL sells steel shot and pins etc.  From what I've been seeing walnut shells seem to be the favorite polishing medium to get stainless nice and shiny.

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I'm sorry, but I don't know where you read walnut is the stuff for stainless. Mixed stainless shot from Rio Grande is the way to go. At least four others in this thread have recommended it (edit: well only two of us Rio's stuff specifically, but stainless in general...) Their stuff comes pre worn in, so I don't think it's as harsh as TRL's, but it costs more. It will last essentially forever. A bit of an investment initially but well worth it. You can get walnut shell at pet stores sold as reptile bedding for pretty damn cheap--like around a dollar a pound.

 

Walnut will shine your stuff up a bit---hell, no media at all in your tumbler-- just the piece you want tumbled--will shine it up. But if you want the fastest way to the best shine you will put on stainless rings, use stainless shot. Period.

 

Walnut is not bad stuff, but it is better suited to softer metals.

Edited by madd-vyking

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Also, as far as there being salt in lemon juice...yeah, the USDA apparently says there's around 1 mg of sodium in your average lemon. But is that little amount likely enough to count? Ketchup/catsup supposedly has (they must take an average between brands?) 167 mg per TBSP, and hot sauce averages 124 mg per tsp!!! That's a helluva lot more. Lemon juice is very effective, so is ketchup, so is hot sauce...but I don't think the salt in lemon juice gives it any boost...

 

data from (if anyone cares?):

http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/Data/SR17/wtrank/sr17a307.pdf

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Looks like it's a final step, though? Says to use after pre-polishing media. Wonder that they don't have some sort of dry polishing compound, like a powder, that you might add to your own walnut?

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Okay...thanx for the tip.

 

Now the question that I have had for a while...

Why is tumbling media like stainless steel shot and this SunSheen so expensive?

Honestly I don't know how difficult it is to make. But it seems to me a  few random pieces of steel shouldn't cost that much.

Or that SunSheen....as it is mostly crushed walnut shells, which in every other situation is just waste from getting to the gooye center.

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I dunno...because we'll buy it?

 

Stainless shot isn't really so expensive compared to anything made of stainless, really---TRL will get you for around $35 for a full pound of 20g 1/8 rings (a vaguely comparable size to the shot); Rio's got their shot on sale right now for $16.65/lb. Plus, they're only going to sell it to you ONCE. Other media are disposable.

 

Walnut shell was at one time a waste product... someone found uses for it and now it's got it's own markets (think the tags made from the holes punched from the large scales...) Funny thing is--if you buy walnut shell as a media for blasting/polishing/or tumbling...it's got one price(like friggin' 75 bucks!-for 11 pounds!)-that is significantly higher than the price you'll pay if you go looking for it as pet bedding ($22.99 for 25 pounds at Petsmart). But even so--10 pounds of walnut is a lot of walnut, it'll take you a long time to use it all up.

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I will say that the stainless shot mix from Rio is really nice... there's five or six different shapes in there, all fairly precision-manufactured. As for the walnut... yeah, I'm gonna say a lot of it it market shennanigans. No idea how much the green goop costs, or how hard it'd be to load yourself. 

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Walnut tumbling media is graded for size and preloaded with polishing compound(abrasive and wax) which accounts for some of the price increase, the rest is just retail markup. If you buy in bulk it's a lot cheaper, like in the range of $1000 for 2000lbs. It can actually get you a better finish than stainless steel media but it takes literally 10x as long and the difference is barely noticeable. We don't often bother with walnut media anymore, the extra time, dust problems and having to replace media often just make it too much of a PITA.

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Don't get me wrong, the walnut media can eventually get you a true mirror finish but it's a long, slow process. Since we do mass production it just isn't worth the extra time and expense when we can get 90% of that with about 1% of the effort. If you're doing high end jewelry it might be more practical for you but in my experience most people don't even notice the difference between "bright and shiny" and "mirror finish" on rings.

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