|polisher and tumbler parts||or making jewellery at kitiki.co.uk or look at kilns at electrickilns.co.uk|
Electric Tumblers are ideal for polishing jewellery and metals and smoothing and polishing glass, rocks, and stones. They're very popular for adding a final lustre to anything made from Art Clay, bronze clay, copper clay, and PMC metal clays, and for adding a gloss or matte finish to beach glass and small pebbles.
You can also create attractive finishes on brass, bronze, coins, copper, fingerprint keepsakes. glass, gold, jewellery, metals, minerals, model parts, rocks, shells, silver, small treasures, and stones. And there are diverse archeological, engineering, geological, and home-hobby applications.
|BUYING A ROTARY TUMBLER|
Although the rotary tumblers are usually sold as complete kits, the parts are available separately. Before ordering, learn more about the parts that make up the kits.
No one can advise you on the tumbling time: it depends on the degree of roughness you start with and the degree of polish you want to achieve. Some metal clay jewellery looks great after twenty minutes, whereas some needs two hours. Some of the old glass we found on Swanage beach only needed an hour, whereas some newly-fractured glass or stones needed two days. So, it's very important to experiment and make a few reminder-notes.
As with many things things, there's a trade-off between easy and time-efficient working, and your budget. Although the cheapest tumbler works perfectly well for a few pieces, you might soon want to try different materials and might need a bigger tumbler or use several drums at the same time.
Tumblers use a drum, or barrel, which contains mixed shot and cleaner or graded grits and polish, The kits include drums which are the right size for the tumbler body.
Manufacturers usually call their tumbler drums 3.0lbs, 2.0lbs, 1.5lbs, 1.0lb, 1400gms, 900gms, 700gms, 500gms, full-size, or half-size. This is not the weight of the unfilled drum.
Apparently, a 3.0lb drum holds 3.0lbs of stones. However, unless there are standard stones somewhere, this is plainly far from accurate. Similarly, a 1400gm drum holds 1400gms of something, but what?
The usual way to measure any container's capacity is by its volume, in cubic centimetres or litres. However, since 1cc of pure water weighs 1gm, the weight of water could be used instead.
Small Plastic Drum 700cc.
Small Rubber Drum 510cc.
Large Plastic Drum 1150cc.
Large Rubber Drum 950cc.
Large Rubber Drum 950cc.
The Kitiki Rubber Drum With Internal Vanes.
We measured drums from several manufacturers, and put the catalogue and the actual sizes in the following table. The four highlighted drums are the ones included with the Kitiki rotary tumbler kits. It's the actual capacity that's relevant.
|drum||catalogue capacity in lbs||catalogue capacity in cc||actual capacity in cc||length in mm||diameter in mm|
The complete kits are sold with a plastic drum or a rubber drum. Although the plastic ones are cheaper, rubber is a better choice. Here's why:
Plastic drums are available as an economy option. Unfortunately, they're fiddlesome to open and close, noisy in use, and sometimes leak. And, if the end caps aren't pushed on all the way, the drum doesn't turn properly and can fall off the rollers.
To make the lid easier to push on, it needs to stand in hot water. When it's on, the drum needs to be squeezed to expel as much air as possible because, during prolonged tumbling, the air warms up and expands and can cause the drum to leak.
To make the lid easier to pull off, the whole drum needs to stand in hot water. Prising it off is a good way to break your nails and there's a slight risk that it will suddenly come off and you'll spill your work, shot or grit, and soapy water.
If you have to work in the same room, plastic drums are very noisy: especially as some glass, rocks, and stones might need to tumble for days, or even weeks.
Rubber drums are better, quieter, and don't leak. They're simpler to fill and empty than plastic drums as they use a different lid mechanism: at one end there's an inner metal lid, a rubber sealing ring, an outer metal lid, and a retaining wing-nut.
Professional rubber drums have internal vanes which, as the drum rorates, scoop up the shot and your pieces, increasing the tumbling action and reducing the tumbling time. They're better, quieter, and simpler to fill and empty than plastic drums.
If you want to do shot-tumbling and grit-tumbling, you should use two barrels: marked so that you don't mixed them up. One stray grit particle caught in the drum will scratch your shot-tumbled work: the scratches are quite hard to remove.
Ideally, and budget constraints aside, it's much better to use four smaller drums for the three grit grades and the polish, and one larger drum one for the shot: marked so you don't mix them up. It makes cleaning and storing easier, especially as the three grits look similar and the polish must be kept grit-free. If you choose to use the same drum, cleaning it out carefully between each phase is vital, as one stray grit particle caught in the drum will scratch your work during the polishing phase, and the scratches are quite hard to remove.
Shot is the generic name for the small metal shapes used to polish and burnish. Generally, it's made of rust-resistant stainless steel as a mix of differenty-sized balls, planetoids, pins, and rods.
As the drum rotates, the mixed metal-shapes repeatedly fall onto the material to be polished and their collective tiny impacts gradually harden, polish, and burnish the surface.
Most of the plain steel shot and stainless steel shot in the UK, and probably the EU, came from two or three suppliers in India. It used to be carefully made but, over the years, the quality, shapes, and mix of the balls, planetoids, pins, and rods, has deteriorated, especially as the raw-metal price continued to increase. It's not as corrosion resistant as it was, probably because it's a lower grade steel.
So we now have our own shot made in the same factory that makes our pliers, cutters, magnetic polishers, scribers, small kilns, mandrels, triblets, and other tools. It's made from expensive stain-resistant magnetic steel in four ball sizes, two planetoid sizes, four pin sizes and two rod sizes. It's better quality, has better shapes, and has a tested and reliable mix to deal with the diverse range of contours on jewellery.
Although it's rust-resistant steel, don't leave it lying around wet: either leave it immersed in the tumbler mix of water and cleaner, or rinse it and dry it carefully.
If you need to replace the shot, don't economise and buy plain or mixed steel: unless you're meticulous about cleaning and drying it every time, it'll soon rust, make a mess, and ruin your work.
To give you some flexibility, the 1000gm of shot comes in two parts: 2 x 250gm of mixed balls and planetoids, and 2 x 250gm of mixed pins and rods.
Shot: Balls And Planetoids.
Shot: Pins And Rods.
If your pieces have a lot of fine detail work, try the pins and rods without the balls and planetoids. However, once you mix them, you won't be able to un-mix them easily without a seive, so you might want to use two drums. If you spill them, the shapes are magnetic so you can gather them up, rinse them, and re-use them.
When you use your tumbler for the first time, let it run for several hours with just the shot, water, and cleaner, so that any stray sharp edges on the cut pins are smoothed away.
Stainless steel is a versatile, durable, steel alloy, used in familiar domestic and industrial products. Here's a promotional video for stainless steel.
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|DRUM AND SHOT CLEANER AND CORROSION INHIBITOR|
Cleaner, sometimes called barrelling compound or gallay compound, is a special mix of detergents and corrosion inhibitors used to keep the barrel and shot or pins clean, lubricate the tumbling, and help the polishing action.
The cleaner comes in a white plastic screw-top pot for convenience and safety: not a plastic bag, and not a pot that can't be closed properly once the seal has been broken.
Complete kits include a 225cc pot. Although it's filled to the brim during packing, powders settle and it may not look quite full when you open it. It's plainly much easier to fill a pot with a fixed volume than to measure out a fixed weight every time. Larger 1000cc pots are in the on-line shop.
Grit is the generic name for the abrasive particles used to grind and polish. Generally, it's graded silicon carbide: an angular, hard, sharp, material which fractures into smaller angular particles, making it an effective abrasive. However, unlike shot, it does need replacing eventually.
As the drum rotates, the grit particles repeatedly fall over the material to be polished and their collective tiny scratches gradually polish the surface.
Grit sizes are confusing, for example: 400 grit particles are not twice the size or half the size of 200 grit particles. 80 grit is classed as medium, 220 as fine, and 400 as very fine. However, most users refer to them as coarse, medium, and fine, and you'll soon learn which grits to use, and for how long, for different materials, shapes, and finishes.
You need three grades of grit for glass and stones, not two: just a coarse and a fine are a false economy as the fine won't remove the scratches from the coarse. The final polish, zinc oxide, needs added plastic pellets to distribute it, otherwise it will just stick to the walls of the barrel.
Grit should be handled and stored carefully to prevent contamination from stray larger particles that will scratch. Keep the tubs sealed until you need to use them. In use, transfer a small amount into a working container, to minimize the risk of contaminating the whole tub. And wash the drums thoroughly before and after use.
When you've finished, empty the grit into a cloth-lined sieve, rinse it thoroughly, and spread it on some cloth to dry. Be careful not to flush away any grit as it may collect in the basin trap.
The grits and polish come in white plastic screw-top pots for convenience and safety: not plastic bags, and not pots that can't be closed properly once the seal has been broken.
Ideally, and budget constraints aside, you should use four drums for the three grit grades and the polish: marked so that you don't mixed them up. If you choose to use the same drum, cleaning it out carefully between each phase is vital, as one stray grit particle caught in the drum will scratch your work during the polishing phase, and the scratches are quite hard to remove.
|ZINC OXIDE POLISH AND PLASTIC PELLETS|
The final phase for polishing glass, rocks, and stones uses Zinc Oxide powder, small plastic pellets, and a little water. Remember that polishing is the final step in the process: it won't remove working marks or grit scratches left from previous phases. Although this produces a highly-polished surface, some glass artists prefer the slighty matte surface that the grits produce.
Some polishes use Cerium Oxide. Cerium belongs to the group of elements known as the rare earth elements. To produce the polishing powder, about 80% of cerium oxide and 20% of other rare earths are used, resulting in a pink-ish powder. Unfortunately, it's more expensive and doesn't work any better unless the stones are very hard.
The plastic pellets help disperse the polish and stop it sticking to the inside of the drum or forming one lump. They're usually made from nylon or recycled polypropylene. The bag in the kits contains about 250gms.
Over time, they break down into smaller pieces, although it won't matter much until they look like grains of sugar. However, by then, the Zinc Oxide, and the grits, will probably have lost most of their abrasiveness.
Although you can buy Zinc Oxide and plastic pellets in the on-line shop. it's probably better to replace the whole grit pack, clean out all the drums, and start afresh.
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