I recently purchased a rotary tumbler for polishing stones and jewelry. My Rio Grand Mini Tumbler Kit arrived this evening, and I had it set up minutes after I had taken it out of the box. Although setup was a breeze, one thing caused me concern. The accompanying directions called for filling the tumbler with a full 4 pounds of mixed steel shot; my kit only came with 3 lbs. I’ve never encountered the issue of missing items in my orders from Rio Grande, so I was a bit surprised. However, on a second look at the Rio Grande catalog, I realized that the description of the Mini Tumbler Kit includes only 3 lbs of steel shot – the amount (according to the catalog) necessary to successfully tumble in this machine. (The discrepancy between the catalog and accompanying directions is odd, but my tumbling results prove that 3 lbs of steel shot works just fine!)
Here is a photo of my Argentium Sterling Silver Pillow Pendant prior to being tumbled (at this stage all extra melted solder has been removed with a blue rubber wheel; no other polishing has been done):
(Note the scratches overall, and the discoloration inside the pendant along the center post.)
Here is the pendant after 30 minutes of tumbling:
Although the tumbling didn’t remove all of the scratches, it effectively cut down my polishing time by about 75%. Removing the remaining scratches was a breeze with rouge and black silver polishing compounds. Its possible, too, that longer time in the tumbler would have removed all of the scratches…
Look for the finished pendant in my Etsy shop.
For those of you interested, the folks at Urban Maille have a great tumbling tutorial with detailed instructions, do’s and don’ts, and troubleshooting. To this, I’d add one hint from the technician I spoke with at Rio Grande. Make sure the lid and rubber seal of your tumbler is dry before you seal it with the rubber ring. This helps to guard against any leakage.
Now I’m tumbling off to bed…