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Doktor Nix

The best polish on TLR bright aluminum?

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I apologize in advance for what is likely a common question being repeated, but I've looked and looked for the answer on these forums and can't find anything but dead links.

Anyway, I love ordering rings from TRL. However, bright aluminum I get from some other, more expensive, suppliers has a much shinier, mirror like finish. I was wondering if this has to do with the particular alloy and how the rings are made, or if this is something that can be achieved with TLR rings with the right tumbling? I've tried many different durations and media in tumbling my rings and finished pieces, but TRL aluminum always comes out very bright, but not smooth and shiny. Is there something I can do to get a more smooth look?

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I apologize in advance for what is likely a common question being repeated, but I've looked and looked for the answer on these forums and can't find anything but dead links.

Anyway, I love ordering rings from TRL. However, bright aluminum I get from some other, more expensive, suppliers has a much shinier, mirror like finish. I was wondering if this has to do with the particular alloy and how the rings are made, or if this is something that can be achieved with TLR rings with the right tumbling? I've tried many different durations and media in tumbling my rings and finished pieces, but TRL aluminum always comes out very bright, but not smooth and shiny. Is there something I can do to get a more smooth look?

The more expensive supplier you talk about tumbles their rings to achieve that shine. You can get the same shine because the BA alloy is the same. They probably use stainless shot because another media would take longer and not be cost effective. Of course, some people swear by tumbling with flour or rice. I would buy a few pounds of stainless shot and a good vibratory tumbler to shine your TRL rings up to a mirror shine. It is possible, I do it all the time.

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The more expensive supplier you talk about tumbles their rings to achieve that shine. You can get the same shine because the BA alloy is the same. They probably use stainless shot because another media would take longer and not be cost effective. Of course, some people swear by tumbling with flour or rice. I would buy a few pounds of stainless shot and a good vibratory tumbler to shine your TRL rings up to a mirror shine. It is possible, I do it all the time.

Ah. Ok. I felt certain it was just a matter of proper tumbling. I have a rotating tumbler, not vibratory, but I've been using walnut then steel to tumble. I've had it come out not shiny enough and I've had it come out over tumbled/dark. I can't seem to hit that 'mirror shine' point. I guess I just need to figure out the timing through trial and error.

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Ah. Ok. I felt certain it was just a matter of proper tumbling. I have a rotating tumbler, not vibratory, but I've been using walnut then steel to tumble. I've had it come out not shiny enough and I've had it come out over tumbled/dark. I can't seem to hit that 'mirror shine' point. I guess I just need to figure out the timing through trial and error.

I personally don't like rotary tumblers because of the rubber barrel issue. It is so hard to "season" those things correctly and so easy to get a bad one that degrades and makes your metal come out like crap. All I use now is a Gy-Roc model B on recommendation by a user named Kodiak here and on MAIL. He is a lapidary guru and I actually called him on the phone and talked to him for about an hour about tumbling. He dumped out a lot of knowledge during that call and I learned a good deal about tumbling. It's a high cost tumbler ($150-$180), but it works very well. Silver and copper alloys take about an hour to maximum shine, aluminum usually 2 hours and when I'm polishing stainless it takes 4 or 5 if I've done a proper pre-polish with abrasive cones/pyramids.

Are you using regular soap such as blue dawn or similar? I always use a special burnishing soap called Kingsley North Tumble Soap. Everything comes out great with it because it actually has burnishing compound added to the soap powder. IMO its the way to go.

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I personally don't like rotary tumblers because of the rubber barrel issue. It is so hard to "season" those things correctly and so easy to get a bad one that degrades and makes your metal come out like crap. All I use now is a Gy-Roc model B on recommendation by a user named Kodiak here and on MAIL. He is a lapidary guru and I actually called him on the phone and talked to him for about an hour about tumbling. He dumped out a lot of knowledge during that call and I learned a good deal about tumbling. It's a high cost tumbler ($150-$180), but it works very well. Silver and copper alloys take about an hour to maximum shine, aluminum usually 2 hours and when I'm polishing stainless it takes 4 or 5 if I've done a proper pre-polish with abrasive cones/pyramids.

Are you using regular soap such as blue dawn or similar? I always use a special burnishing soap called Kingsley North Tumble Soap. Everything comes out great with it because it actually has burnishing compound added to the soap powder. IMO its the way to go.

Hi, That "other" supplier uses rice in a tumbler. That's what they told me when I chatted with them. Assuming we are talking about the same supplier.

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Steel doesn't work very well for BA. If the rings start out rough, or you tumble them for too long. The rings will come out with a frosted appearance as if they had been sandblasted. Hence I only tumble with steel for a single hour to deburr the rings. I tumble before and after this with rice and the shine I get is good enough to reflect my face.

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Steel doesn't work very well for BA. If the rings start out rough, or you tumble them for too long. The rings will come out with a frosted appearance as if they had been sandblasted. Hence I only tumble with steel for a single hour to deburr the rings. I tumble before and after this with rice and the shine I get is good enough to reflect my face.

How long do you tumble with the rice? I'm just getting started with polishing my rings, and want a ball park figure for how long to do it.

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