Daily Wire Tip Oct. 2: Tumbling – It’s a Toss-Up!

By on October 1, 2010
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip for
October 2, 2010


Some wire wrapping instruction books suggest to use rotary tumblers for cleaning and polishing jewelry. Is it a good idea?

-Irina in West Brookfield, Massachusetts


Yes, quite a few people use tumblers for work hardening and/or cleaning their jewelry. There are two different types of tumblers, rotary and vibratory. To learn all about how folks use them I’d like to direct you to our article Tumbling Your Jewelry.

We have also had several lively discussions about the pros and cons of tumbling that may give you additional advice. To find and read all of these, type "tumbler" in the “Keyword” search box at the left side of the screen, underneath "Search Our Blog" and press the green "Go!" button. When you have finished scanning through page 1, click on the number boxes at the bottom to find even more!

Most folks here know that, as a lapidary I only use a tumbler for rocks. Visit this page to see a few of my tumblers.

After reading through all of this information, the end choice will be yours.

Answer contributed by Dale “Cougar” Armstrong

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  1. avatar


    October 2, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Oh yes, we have discussed this too many times between our group of faculty members. Tumblers have their place, especially if you do chain maille or such. I think the reason this comes up so much is because there are so many people out there using dead soft wire for everything. Take the time to read thru our comments as well as others and then like Dale said, make your own decision.

  2. avatar


    October 2, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    After making something with sterling silver I buff it with Red Rouge. In addition to work hardening the silver it gives it a mirror finish.

    • avatar


      October 2, 2010 at 6:04 pm

      Thanks Pete-and for the folks who read this and would like to know more about using red rouge, I would like to direct you to the following page of previous discussion and procedure. http://wire-sculpture.com/jewelry-making-blog/656/

  3. avatar


    October 4, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    I have to say, I love my tumbler for work hardening and polishing jewelry. You have to be sensible about it though. No tumbling of soft material like pearls, mother of pearl or opals. Anything lower than a Mohs hardness of 5 should probably not be tumbled. But the shine and luster it puts on my pieces is really hard to get any other way. Not to mention the time savings. I can put 6 pieces in the tumbler for 2 – 3 hours and make more pieces in that time rather than polishing them by hand. I really don’t understand the fear about this method of finishing. I have never had any stones damaged. Just use common sense about what you put in there.