|tumbler and polisher parts and upgrades||or kilns at electrickilns.co.uk or making jewellery at kitiki.co.uk|
Electric Tumblers is an on-line shop for lapidary tumblers, jewellery tumblers, glass polishers, rock tumblers, stone tumblers, magnetic polishers, drums, stainless-steel shot, cleaning compounds, abrasive grits, polishes, and de-burring media.
You can create attractive finishes on brass, bronze, cartridge shells, castings, coins, copper, fashion accessories, fingerprint keepsakes, glass, gold, gun components, jewellery, keys, metals, minerals, model parts, rocks, shells, silver, small treasures, and stones. And there are diverse archeological, engineering, geological, home-hobby, and industrial applications.
|BUYING A ROTARY TUMBLER|
The tumblers are available as complete ready-to-go kits or separate parts. To learn more about the kits, use the links below the menu bar near the top of the page.
For prices, use the shop link below the menu bar near the top-right of any page. They include UK VAT and UK mainland delivery. So, no other charges and you can start work straight away.
If you're comparing prices for tumblers, don't mistake the cost of the motor base on its own for the cost of a whole kit. And check that you're looking at the correc t size drum, the amount and quality of shot, three graded grits and polish, UK VAT, and UK mainland delivery.
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 silver clay jewellery looks great after twenty minutes, whereas some need two hours. Some of the old glass we found on Swanage beach only needed an hour, whereas some newly-fractured glass or stones needed four 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.
|THE CR1 TUMBLER MOTOR BASE|
The Kitiki CR-1 is a heavy-duty motor base with a powerful 40W motor, a nylon reinforced toothed drive belt, and bronze roller bearings. It's not available as part of a kit, so you'll need to add a 950gm or 1000gm pro rubber drum, and 1000gm of shot and cleaner, or a grit pack. Or you can use two 510gm rubber drums. It's more powerful than the Professional model.
|THE CR5 TUMBLER MOTOR BASE|
The Kitiki CR-5 is a double-length heavy-duty motor base with a powerful 40W motor, a nylon reinforced toothed drive belt, and bronze roller bearings. It's not available as part of a kit, so you'll need to add two 950gm or 1000gm pro rubber drums, 2000gm of shot and cleaner, or two grit packs. As it's longer than the other tumblers, you can use one 950gm drum and two 510gm rubber drums, or one 1000gm pro rubber drum and two 510gm rubber drums, or three 510gm rubber drums.
Tumblers use a rotating 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 motor base.
It's generally assumed that a 3.0lb drum can hold 3.0lbs of stones, but what kind of stones? Especially as, for most tumbling, the drum should only be about 40% full. Similarly, a 510gm drum holds 510gms 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: weigh the drum, fill it with water, and measure the change.
The 1100gm Plastic Drum.
The 700gm Plastic Drum.
The 510gm Rubber Drum.
The 950gm Rubber Drum.
The 1000gm Rubber Drum With Internal Vanes.
The Industrial 2000gm Rubber Drum With Internal Vanes.
We measured drums from several manufacturers, and put the catalogue and the actual sizes in the following table. 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|
|rubber, with vanes||3.0||1400||1000||130||130|
|rubber, with vanes||5.0||2270||2000||127||176|
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 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.
Plastic drum lids need to stand in hot water to make them easier to push on. When they are on, the whole 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 free the lids. the whole drum has to stand in hot water. Prising them off is a good way to break your nails and there's a slight risk that, as you pull the lid off, you'll spill your work, shot or grit, and soapy water.
Plastic drums are noisy, if you have to work in the same room: especially as rough glass and stones might need to tumble for several days.
Rubber drums are better, quieter, don't leak, and are simpler to fill and empty than plastic drums.. 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 rotates, 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. They should be about 60% to 75% full to maximise the tumbling action.
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: BALLS, PLANETOIDS, PINS, AND RODS|
Shot is the generic name for the small metal shapes used to polish and burnish. Ours is made of rust-resistant stainless steel, not plain steel, as a mix of differently-sized balls, planetoids, pins, and rods.
As the drum rotates, the shot repeatedly falls onto the material to be polished and the collective tiny impacts gradually harden, polish, and burnish the surface.
It's in 250gm bags: either mixed balls and planetoids or mixed pins and rods. Kits include the correct amount for the size of the drum: 500gms, 1000gms, or 2000gms. If you see shot sold as a starter pack, you'll probably get a half-portion of poor quality plain steel which will soon corrode and rust.
If your work pieces have a lot of fine detail work, try more pins. However, once you've mixed them you won't be able to un-mix them easily, so you might want to use two drums.
Your work and the shot are immersed in water. However, as water is a poor cleaner, a small amount of special detergent is usually added. It's called barelling compound, gallay compound, drum cleaner, or just tumbler cleaner: it's only for shot, not grits.
Most of the plain steel and stainless steel shot in the UK, and probably the EU, came from several suppliers in India. It used to be adequately made but, over the years, the quality, shapes, and mix of balls, planetoids, pins, and rods, deteriorated, especially as the raw-metal price increased. It's not as corrosion resistant as it was, probably because it's a lower grade steel.
Our shot is made for us: from expensive stain-resistant magnetic steel in four ball sizes, two planetoid sizes, four pin sizes, and two rod sizes. It's a tested and reliable mix designed to deal with the diverse range of contours on jewellery. It's made in the same factory that makes our magnetic polishers, pliers, cutters, and other tools. Also, as it's slightly magnetic, it's easier to pick up if you spill it.
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. No steel-based products are rust-proof as anyone who's found a bike in a canal will have seen.
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.
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.
|MAGNETIC POLISHER PINS|
Most of the plain steel and stainless steel pins in the UK, and probably the EU, came from several suppliers in India. They used to be adequately made but, over the years, the quality, cuts, and mix of sizes deteriorated, especially as the raw-metal price increased. In some cases they were just plain steel, not stainless, or a mix. Either way, they soon corroded.
Our pins are made for us: from expensive stain-resistant magnetic-steel wire. Cutting thin wire into 5mm lengths needs a precision guillotine with a carefully controlled feed mechanism or the cut will shear leaving a point that will scratch rather than polish your work. The size was chosen, after considerable experiment, to best polish the diverse range of contours on jewellery. They're made in the same factory that makes our pliers, cutters, magnetic polishers, and other tools.
Initially, the stainless steel pins will have straight-cut ends, so it's a good idea to run the polisher with some scrap metal for an hour to begin to round them off slightly. Then, either keep them in the water or take them out and dry them. Some people lift the pot off to keep the pins away from the magnet when not using it.
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 pins, 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.
|VIDEO: STAINLESS STEEL|
Cherry Heaven TV provides on-line radio and television programmes using the Cherry Heaven Player. To play, pause, or stop the player, or adjust the volume, click the controls or, whilst it's playing, drag the time-line slider to a new position.
There are over 60 different types of stainless steel, better called stain-resistant steel, It's a versatile, durable, steel alloy, used in familiar domestic and industrial products. Here's a promotional video:
|DRUM AND SHOT CLEANER AND CORROSION INHIBITOR|
Cleaner, sometimes called barrelling compound, barrel brite, or gallay compound, is a special mix of detergents and corrosion inhibitors used to keep the drum, shot, and your work clean. It's not just a general detergent.
The cleaner comes in a 225cc 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.
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.
As the drum rotates, the grit particles repeatedly fall onto the material to be polished and the collective tiny scratches and impacts gradually polish the surface. However, unlike shot, it does need replacing eventually.
Grit sizes are confusing, for example: 400 grit particles are not twice the size or half the size of 200 grit particles. Generally, 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 grit pack comprises 450gms of 80 grit, 450gms of 220 grit, and 450gms of 400 grit, 200 gms of zinc oxide polish, and one 250gm pack of plastic pellets to distribute the polish. If you see grits sold as a starter pack, you'll probably get two small pots of grit, not three, and no plastic pellets. It's not enough, and you'll have to buy more once you've experimented.
The grits and polish come in 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 next phase, and the scratches are hard to remove.
|ZINC OXIDE POLISH AND PLASTIC PELLETS|
The final phase for polishing glass, rocks, and stones uses zinc oxide powder, mixed with water to produce a thick creamy polish, and small plastic pellets. The powder isn't water soluble so the individual particles keep their integrity.
The pellets 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 but you might not need to use it all in one go.
Over time, the pellets 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.
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.
Polishing is the final step in the process: it won't remove working marks or grit scratches left from previous phases. Although it can produce a highly-polished surface, some glass artists prefer the slighty matte surface that the grits produce.
The screw-top pot in the kits contains about 200gms. If you see grits and polish sold as a getting-started pack, you'll probably get two small pots of grit, not three, a small pot of polish, and no plastic pellets. It won't be enough, and you'll have to buy more once you've experimented.
Some processes, such as de-burring metals, work better with different media. The two most popular are ceramic shapes and broken wallnut shells, both of which are in the on-line shop.
I can't recommend one or the other so, as they're not expensive, you'll need to experiment. However, generally, ceramic shapes are used with harder metals and walnut shells with softer metals.
They can also be mixed with grits for polishing glass, rocks, and stones, but once you've mixed them you won't be able to un-mix them without a sieve.