I bought a new tumbler, and it arrived yesterday – I’m very excited.
What the heck is a tumber, and why would I need one? Well, my dear, it’s one of those tools that you don’t know you need until suddenly you learn about them, and then you can’t live without them.
I make nearly all of the components I use in making jewelry, and that includes earring wires, clasps, headpins, bead caps, etc. Sometimes you use a tumbler to “work-harden” your wire – for example, to make earring wires a bit more stiff so that they don’t get misshapen every time you pull them in and out of your earlobe. Or, you can choose to oxidize your metal pieces (using liver of sulfur) – this causes a dark finish on your pieces. If you’ve textured them with a hammer or with texturing plates, then oxidize the pieces, then polish or tumble them, the texture takes on a high relief against the rest of the piece.
These tumblers are usually used to smooth and polish rocks, or for metal working. I bought my first one for $30 at Harbor Freight and it lasted about a year, then the tumbler stopped turning. This Lortone one was about $70, and I can’t wait to put it to use.
I use stainless steel shot in my tumbler, and the shot had gotten really cruddy looking – so I cleaned that as well, just using distilled water and some baking soda. Apparently cleaning the shot is recommended periodically… duh. I know this may seem geeky to some, but the finished pieces can be really nice. Here are some examples!