Hardening gold-plated metal
Hello & thank you for your wonderful articles; they're a God-send! I am a beginner wire artist and recently learned that I can harden wire in a tumbler! I am thinking of purchasing a Lortone 3lb tumbler! Although I am only using my tumbler to harden wire initially, is a dual Lortone better in the long run? Also I want to start with gold/silver plated wire. If I use less shot will it still strip the wire and will my wire still harden? I appreciate your response!
I don't think a duel barrel tumbler is better than a single barrel tumbler.......the question is which one is best for you? That answer depends upon the volume of items you'll be tumbling. A larger barrel tumbler like a Lortone 4-A may be a better option as you can add larger items as well as a greater quanity. If you're not planning on tumbling large items or a high volume of things, the Lortone 3A single barrel should work just fine for you. Multiple and larger barrels require more shot which adds to their expense. Another thing to consider.
As to tumbling plated wire...not such a good idea as thin plating will get damaged or removed complety by the tumbling process. Filled wire does OK. You can try tumbling in a different media, but you might not get a high-polish finish. As you coil, twist, hammer etc. wire, it will work harden. Tumbling only slightly hardens the outside of the wire. Half-hard wire used for earring findings works great and requires no tumbling! Perhaps just a light buffing with a jewelry polishing cloth will produce the finish you are looking for without compromising the plating of the wire.
Wishing you all the best with your new venture in wire! Have fun creating!