How To Polish Metal Jewelry using a Rotary Tumbler
by Judy Ellis
Tumbling Instructions

Note:
If tumbler barrel is new, run barrel with jewelers mix stainless steel shot (1 lb of shot in a 3 lb barrel), enough water to cover the shot and 1 to 2 drops of ShineBrite Burnishing Compound for 15-20 minutes. Rinse the tumbler barrel and shot well afterward, and your barrel is now ready to go.

Tumbling your jewelry accomplishes a few things:
Cleans: Tumbling cleans your work and removes any dir or oils that have accumulated on your pieces.
Polishes: Tumbling with stainless steel shot and burnishing compound will polish your work.
Hardens: By leaving the pieces in the tumbler long enough, the metal or wire will become "work-hardened", making it more durable and better able to hold its shape.
Procedure
1. Open Barrel
Open the barrel using the same procedure outlined in "Initial Tumbler Setup".
2. Add Tumbling Media
Add 1 lb of Jewelers Mix Stainless Steel Shot.
3. Add Jewelry
Add jewelry pieces to barrel and just enough water to cover the shot and jewelry.
4. Add Water
Add enough water to cover the shot and jewelry. The water level should be about 1 inch above the shot and jewelry.
5. Add Burnishing Compound
Add 1 to 2 drops of ShineBrite Burnishing Compound. (Note: DO NOT ADD TOO MUCH BURNISHING COMPOUND, IT WILL DAMAGE YOUR RUBBER BARREL AND TURN YOUR JEWELRY BLACK.)
6. Close Barrel
7. Tumble
Place the barrel on the tumbler using the same procedure outlined in "Initial Tumbler Setup". tumbling times will vary based on the material being tumbled. The Golden Rule with tumbling jewelry is "Tumble briefly, check often". When in doubt about the durability of a metal, stone or glass, check the tumbler frequently. Tumble jewelry for 30 minutes, checking as often as every 10 minutes. Tumble longer if the desired finish has not been achieved (up to 2 hours). Tumbling for longer than 2 hours can result in over burnishing and you could lose detail in your pieces.

- Porous stones such as turquoise, precious stones such as rubies, emeralds, and pearls are examples of items that should never be tumbled.

- Avoid tumbling brass and bronze with silver or copper, especially for extended periods of time to prevent discoloration of your pieces.

- Silver can be tumbled for long periods of time, sometimes even overnight. This gives chainmaille a silky smooth finish.

- Copper will start to oxidize if tumbled longer than four hours. To keep it bright and shiny, tumbling for shorter periods is recommended.
8. Cleanup
Empty the contents of the barrel in a mesh strainer, draining out all of the liquid. Thoroughly rinse burnishing compound off from shot and jewelry. Be extra careful not to have any of the shot go down the drain. After removing all of the pieces of jewelry from the shot, spread the shot out on a flat surface on a paper towel or cloth to air dry. Shot should always be dried completely before being stored.

Materials

No materials listed

Tools

WireJewelry Professional Single Barrel Rotary Rock Tumbler with 3 Pound Capacity Drum
G24-1
  • G24-1
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $129.95
  • Gold Club Price: $97.46
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Stainless Steel Shot - 1 lb Bag
G24-4
  • G24-4
  • Lesson Quantity: 1.00 pieces
  • Purchase Quantity: 1.00 each
  • Price: $31.95
  • Gold Club Price: $23.96
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  • Category: General Education
  • Technique(s): Tumbling