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Craine

Guide on Tumbling

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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.

People have had terrible trouble with redepositing when tumbling BA as the stuff re-oxidises so viciously. Changing water frequently was found to be a good solution. It's certainly black after only 15 minutes for me (water is warm like the air here though). There's only so much soap you can put in there. I'm just about done with BA however for jewellery as it oxidises too much in a tropical climate. (Going for the new AA silver where it's available.)

Edited by calyx

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Bit of a newbie question here, but what is burnishing for? I understand polishing and de-burring, but have never heard of the term burnishing before starting maille.

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How long do you guys tumble with the stainless shot Lorenzo?

 

Well, we don't actually use the stainless shot anymore either. When we did use shot our process time would be in the range of 12-18 hours, depending on the size of the project and the amount of weld scale. If you're not welding you probably won't need nearly as long but we have to polish off the oxide layer. We stopped using it because it's just not economical on a large scale. It takes almost 200lbs of shot for our 4 cu ft tumbler and when you're trying to separate a 200lb curtain from 200lbs of media it gets pretty messy. We were constantly sweeping shot up off the floors and having to top up any lost media, that stuff is pretty expensive to be constantly replacing.

 

Our current process gets the same result as stainless shot but takes less than 4 hours for up to 500 lbs of mail, so we can ship even large rush orders the same day if necessary. I can't really discuss the details but suffice it to say that it requires some pretty dangerous chemicals and isn't suited for home use.

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To deburr we actually recommend shaking the rings violently in a glass jar. Take a pasta sauce jar and shake with force. You only need to put the rings in the jar nothing else. The violent action knocks the burrs off. The harder the material the more shaking it takes. Sterling is fast and stainless is longer to deburr. 

 

For shining rings we actually recommend tumbling them with crushed walnut shell. Crushed walnut shell can be bought as bird bedding at pet stores. You dry tumble for as long as you like - hours or days. Then you wash them in hot soapy water.

Use stainless shot with extra care - in most cases it will just remove any shine from a surface and make the material rougher. Be aware of metal harness - a soft metal like bright aluminum put in with a hard material like steel shot can make a mess of the aluminum - so test your shot first.

I have a vibratory tumbler and crushed walnut...but is there a way to tumble the rings (for shine) without putting a crapload of loose rings in there then having to pick through the media to find them? I do this with my bike parts when I degrease/shine them, but it's a gigantic pain in the arse.

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I have a vibratory tumbler and crushed walnut...but is there a way to tumble the rings (for shine) without putting a crapload of loose rings in there then having to pick through the media to find them? I do this with my bike parts when I degrease/shine them, but it's a gigantic pain in the arse.

With walnut, I tend to sieve it out. But with shot it's harder... If one material is magnetic that helps. Sometimes I am able to sieve the result, or "pan" so that media is a bit more separated, helps if the media is a different density from the rings. Sometimes I put a chain through the rings, using a thick blunt needle to pick them up. But nothing is ideal.

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You can buy a tumbler that automatically separates your parts from your media, they're a bit pricey though.

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You can buy a tumbler that automatically separates your parts from your media, they're a bit pricey though.

Ah that's how it's done in industry? And these tumblers, would there be any under USD/CAD $1000?

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Here's a video of one of the automatic ones, they're pretty magical.

 

 

And a manual one that looks like it's designed for hobbyists. Definitely under $1000.

 

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You could put the rings on a line.  I've used fishing line for closed rings, but if they're just cut, the line can go through the gap.  Possibly thicker string, or twine...shouldn't fray too much in crushed walnut, I don't think, but I haven't tested that yet.   If you cut your own, it's easy to run the line through the coil first, then cut them so that way the're all strung and ready to tumble.

Edited by Zolsta

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Thanks guys. :)

 

What about just putting rings in with no media, or very little (ie, more rings than media)? Will BA or copper or even stainless shine up just by rubbing up against other rings, or does that cause scratches?

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bpj...yeah, I've run the tumbler with just rings, and even that will give your stuff a polish. (done it basically to debur or clean, though not my usual m.o.) Had no worries or issues with scratches thus far...

 

edit: I should mention that's been with the rotary tumbler, guess I can't say for the vibe...

Edited by madd-vyking

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The main problem I see with tumbling with just rings would be that the inside of the rings won't get polished as much as the outside, assuming you're tumbling just one size.

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Yep, that's exactly the problem, the inner surfaces of the rings take a very long time to polish up and never really seem to get as shiny as the outer surfaces. That's why I prefer to polish rings after they've been woven.

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I should have mentioned...When I do actually tumble rings by themselves--I also pre-open them. Half the reason, at least, for me to tumble them before weaving or by themselves is to debur and clean up the slag or whatever it's called, anyway...and I've only done it without media when there was a pretty good amount, to fill up the tumbler pretty well. Then I wind up tumbling the pieces when they are done anyway. I tend to go a bit overboard with the tumbling, but I do like the shinies!

 

edit (5/29): ...and I guess my point was, the open ends of the rings I think most likely get in there and polish the inside surfaces of the rings.

Edited by madd-vyking

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What is really tricky is separating out stainless shot from tiny little stainless rings of similar alloy - auugh. Can't just sieve it out. Magnetic vibratory would be the answer to that, I suppose. 

 

Thought it was worth mentioning - I made a real rookie mistake this morning and rotary tumbled my latest batch of stainless rings from TRL with shot for far too long with far too little water/detergent, and ended up covering it all with dark grey greasy goo. Freaked out, kept changing water, no avail, then remembered Coke is supposed to help, which means phosphoric acid, so I squirted some rust converter (24% phosphoric acid) in, and half an hour and two black changes of water, the rings were silver. Now to actually polish them properly as the goo prevented it.

 

I did a search for phosphoric acid and tumbling and found this useful PDF http://www.cooltools.us/v/vspfiles/images/tumblercontamination.pdf which surmised that other acids might work just as well. The article is about the rotary rubber barrel ruboff contaminating the metals and how to prevent it. [i have a Lortone 33B, but I hadn't used the barrels for a while, and wonder if they've started to break down in the infernal heat here hence so much greasy deposit.]

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I thankfully have never had to deal with the goo problem...the tumbler I have uses clear hard plastic barrels, and I went with that one specifically because of some of the horror stories I'd read about with the black rubber coated barrels. Granted, it's loud as all get out, but I fortunately have the space to keep it far enough away it doesn't bug anyone.

 

Glad to hear you cleaned up the mess without too much trouble---that would have cost a few bucks too many down the drain...

 

edit: fantastic, very informative pdf there, calyx....Thank you! I've bookmarked that one for future reference.

Edited by madd-vyking

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Hah yes I have a cheap kiddie tumbler with a durable plastic barrel and it is rather noisy for my small house...

Should have clarified for anyone needing de-goo advice, the 24% acid deruster solution was added in a few squirts to mostly water. I did try a skerrick of Coke in the other barrel and I could see that was beginning to work...

Noticing with these large steel rings that there are quite persistent micro-scratches despite the overall bling - an overnight hopefully goo-free tumble should tell me if these can be rotary tumbled out or an ongoing product of the pins in my shot. I'd like to try the Rio Grande stuff one day. At any rate I think I shall try finishing off with some walnut in my reloader vibe with the rings this time as I'm quite impressed by the sterlingish mirror bling on some expensive SS rings from a different supplier.

Why tumble rings rather than finished jewellery? So I can feel free to use various beads, rubber, and mixed metals. It is more work though.

Edited by calyx

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Haven't read through the entire thread, but as it is to compile information I'll just add what I've found to work very well.

 

I use a half-half media mixture of the Stainless Steel Pin Shot and Ball Shot that I purchased from here. (http://theringlord.com/cart/shopdisplayproducts.asp?id=166&cat=Tumblers). I 'seasoned' the for about 18-36 hours prior to use with any rings or finished pieces with the burnishing compound that I use for tumbling as well, which is Rio Grande Sunsheen Burnishing Compound (http://www.riogrande.com/Product/Super-Sunsheen-Burnishing-Compound/339323). Its relatively inexpensive and I've found that it is better than Dawn, as well as produces less suds. To further improve the shot and remove edges, you could probably tumble it with some polishing compound such as cerium oxide.

 

All of this shot and burnishing compound are used in a UV-10 Thumler's vibratory tumbler, using a UV-3 barrel (I've only ever found it here: http://www.therockshed.com/tumbler3.html), rather than the UV-10 barrel, in order to have a barrel where the proper action can take place. This action cannot take place in a UV-10 barrel, as the amount of shot alone needed to fill it to the necessary level would exceed the weight limit by several pounds. Additionally, this is more cost effective when you consider the money it would take to purchase that much shot, particularly if you bought the more standard pre-finished shots sold by Rio Grande and others, as well as most batches of rings and items only needing a smaller volume anyways. When using this smaller barrel, though, if you seal the lid the wing nut used to hold the barrel down will cut up into the foam on the underside of the barrel lid. I usually run it with the top off  anyways, as it makes it easy to check to see if the action has slowed and needs more liquid added to bring it back up to speed and I haven't had the lid ruined from the wing nut cutting into it when sealed.

 

Speaking on the action inside the barrel, it is extremely important to note that you must have good action in the barrel to get good results, as well as fast results. With a vibratory tumbler you are looking for a sort of swirling vortex action. To get this action you must have a proper ratio of parts, media, and water mixed with burnishing compounds. While you can go with some scientific ratios, the best method I've found is to make sure that the barrel is at least 60% full with your media and items to tumble (more is usually better, and don't be too afraid to go up to about 90%) and then add some of your burnishing liquid to the barrel (I use a squirt bottle for better control). I then turn on the tumbler, wait a second for the shot to begin to mix with the parts and gain momentum, and then just continue adding burnishing liquid with my squirt bottle until the mixture has reached the proper, smooth action. You can Youtube videos of vibratory tumblers running to get an idea of what this action looks like (walnut media is a good one to watch, as it is easy to get this action with), as well as the tumbler tends to be unstable if it does not reach this proper action and should be feel as well as sound off.

 

Another important part of all of this is to drain and replace the old burnishing compound with new burnishing compound after a certain amount of time, which will vary depending on load size, material, and level of oxidation. If you do not pay attention to this, your efforts can be diminished, eliminated, or worst of all, reversed (sometimes to the point where trying again with clean solution can't fully fix it). The reason for this is that the burnishing compound changes the surface tension of the water in addition to other things to hold the oxidation that is removed during the process in suspension, but the amount that can be held in suspension isn't infinite. I've done at least 10 pounds of 5356 bright aluminum so far, much of the wire purchased from here and then coiled on my *safe* power-winding setup and cut with Ringinator. For these I've found that the ideal shine (near mirror to mirror) can be achieved in about 25-35 minutes, with only one run. Multiple runs don't seem to visibly improve the finish, and only increase the risk of being run too long and reversing the shine (very common I've found with BA). For finished pieces, the time seems to take less, and the finish can be even better than loose rings. Current theory on that is that being held in place the shot can strike them more effectively. Additionally, I've ran anodized aluminum pieces with bright aluminum in them in the shot for 10 minutes or so with very good results on the BA, and no damage on the AA (some even look slightly shinier, though that may be due to oils being cleaned off).

 

I use two different sieves made using 0.25" and 0.125" fencing material ("chicken wire", square holes) to separate the shot from the media, all the way down to many of the 20g ring sizes (though these take more time to shake/separate), separating over a bucket or tub to catch the shot. The shot is then poured into a kitchen strainer and sprayed clean. The rings (finished pieces can just be plucked out usually) are similarly sprayed off, and then ideally left to dry in direct sunlight (without proper drying, water spots can collect on the rings, and oxidation can occur that may reverse burnishing). To pick up the shot that tends to roll away regardless of care taken, as well as to aid in separation, a magnet can be used, ideally one on an extending pole and neodymium.

 

A bonus to using a vibratory tumber with shot rather than a rotary tumbler is that it is extremely gentle on any beads or cabachons, etc. that you may place in there (check before doing so regardless). I've tumbled a calcite cabachon I made and wrapped in silver in there with great results (The calcite being significantly less hard than the shot).

 

You can view the finish on my handmade BA rings yourself at my etsy store: www.etsy.com/shop/MMSupplies

 

I apologize for the length of my post and any redundant material I may have added to the thread in advance.

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Oh good lord.... I am more confused now than when I started reading :baby: . I'm looking into the tumblers since the room mates freaked about me washing jumprings in the washer *heheheh oops.* My next day off will be spent re-reading this and actually making sense of it ( I hope.) Now back to opening more rings for another bracelet. Hmmmm and I still have to place an order.

 

Side note:

    Has anyone found a way to make your days off, real day job, longer for a more productive working session? LOL :biggrin:

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Oh good lord.... I am more confused now than when I started reading :baby: . I'm looking into the tumblers since the room mates freaked about me washing jumprings in the washer *heheheh oops.* My next day off will be spent re-reading this and actually making sense of it ( I hope.) Now back to opening more rings for another bracelet. Hmmmm and I still have to place an order.

 

Side note:

    Has anyone found a way to make your days off, real day job, longer for a more productive working session? LOL :biggrin:

other then getting up really early  and staying up later?  

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Someone recommended tumbling in fine beach sand once, or to shake it in a glass jar with the rings. I have an abundance of fine beach sand (I collected some from the shore of Lake Superior once and I still have quite a bit of it.) 

 

Would that do anything? It kind of made sense, but I don't know much about tumbling.

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Supposedly, back in the day, the way the rust was cleaned up off these things was in barrels full of sand that were rolled around with shirts of maille in them til they were (relatively) sparkly. Can't see why it wouldn't have some sort of effect(affect?) as to polishing. I'd like to hear about your results.

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i have been wondering about tumbling myself. newbie and learning. i was thinking of trying finely crushed glass with water and soap as lub. also the glass they use in glass beading machines that are used for cleaning greasy rusty car parts. now in a blaster your not going to get shine out of it but in a tumbler i wonder.

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