Tumbling Media for Jewelry: Finding the Right One
You’ve heard of tumbling media for finishing jewelry; you’ve probably even used it. But there are many kinds, and each one has characteristics that make it better suited for one type of project, finish, or tumbler.
This handy guide, featured in From the Bench’s Repair Issue, will help you make the right choice and achieve better results with your jewelry.
What’s the Difference?
Tumbling media abrades against your jewelry to remove unwanted material. Applications include deburring, polishing, burnishing, and removing fire scale. Create your desired surface finish by choosing media based on characteristics like size, shape, and composition.
Tumbling Media 1: Stainless Steel Pins
Stainless steel pins leave a semi-bright finish in a short amount of time, perfect for use right after casting. Use stainless steel pins with a magnetic tumbler, along with Stuller’s finishing soap.
Tumbling Media 2: Treated Walnut Shell
This media can be used on all metals to produce an excellent mirror finish. Use it in a vibratory or barrel tumbler.
Tumbling Media 3: White Pyramids
These plastic, pyramid-shaped media have a medium-cut surface and produce a very fine cut surface conditioning. They’re best for soft metals, to leave a smooth finish with little shine. Use these in a vibratory or barrel tumbler.
Tumbling Media 4: Stainless Steel Mixed Shot
Stainless steel shot is rust- and corrosion-resistant, requires no special storage, and is ideal for use in wet, flow-through systems. Used in a vibratory or barrel tumbler, this stainless-steel shot leaves pieces bright and clean, burnishing metals to a mirror finish.
Tumbling Media 5: Porcelain Balls
Because of their shape, 2-mm porcelain balls impart a single point of contact, leaving a very fine finish to almost any area it reaches. It’s very popular for delicate parts, fine-edge blanking, and precious metal burnishing. Use them in a vibratory or barrel tumbler to create a bright finish with less distortion.
Tumbling Media 6: Brown Pyramids
These plastic, pyramid-shaped media have a medium-cut surface and produce very fine surface conditioning. These pyramids are best for soft metals, to leave a smooth finish with little shine. Use them in a vibratory or barrel tumbler.
Tumbling Media 7: Ceramic Polyhedrons
Ceramic is the heaviest tumbling media and the fastest finisher. Its polyhedron shape is great for grinding and polishing hard metals. It’s also good for deburring machined, casted, and fabricated parts. Use it in a vibratory or barrel tumbler.
Explore tumbling media, other finishing tools and supplies, plus talk to experts and more during Stuller’s Bench Jeweler Workshop, March 27-28, 2020. Register by February 17 to take advantage of early-bird pricing.