Polishing Stamped Jewelry
by Kristi Clark
I bought a 3lb.HF tumbler some time ago to smooth the back of my disks after I punch them with hole punch. I also got the tumbler to take the excess silver black solution I oxidize with off the stamped pieces so I dont have to spend hours polishing the fronts and backs with pro polishing pads to make my sterling silver shiny. I read about it online and followed the instructions sometime leaving them in the tumbler for many hours or overnight. I also watched my water to silver ratio and used the same amount to dish soap you recommended above. I also used stainless steel shot in mixed sizes too. But it didnt work so i ended taking it back.
So for last two years I have been doing it by hand and Im tired because it waste alot of time....and polish pads are expensive. Well,Im starting soldering now and am making rings and having a hard time polishing the underside in the grooves where the solder is and im tired of scrubbing the top of the disks to get the silver black solution off......not to mention Im making larger quantities and these polishing pads get expensive and it eats up hours in my day. I need your advice. My friend said I should be using some grit sand or something. Could you please help me?
Sincerely, Kristi Clark
You've got several issues going on here. First off, if your disc cutter is working properly, your discs should need very little finishing work as the edges should be clean. Extremely rough edges of a newly cut disc is an indication that your punch is in need of replacing.
Many moons ago, we had to cut our own discs, but nowadays, one can purchase discs in most metals and in many sizes and gauges that are pretty much ready-to-use. I'm sure you'll agree that having to spend hours sanding discs is a waste of time. You could leave rough discs in a rotary tumbler for weeks and they would still need some additional finishing work. No thanks!
As to the rings and finishing off the excess solder....make sure your join is clean by using clean flush-cut jumprings. Be sure to snug them so that you have a seamless cut. More is not better with solder, so try using less. Make sure that you are letting the solder flow and not just slub to help avoid unsightly blobs on your rings. The best way to finish the rings is with either a 1/2 round file like a Swiss file in a #2 or 4 fine cut or with a special bit called a Rotary file for your flexshaft designed for cleaning up the inside of ring shanks. Either tool will make quick work of smoothing the inside of wire rings. A bit of fine-grit sandpaper is good for hitting the outside diameter of the rings for a seamless join.
Sharpie marker is a well kept secret tool for coloring in lettering while leaving discs, etc. bright silver. Simply remove excess ink quickly and cleanly with a Q-tip and some 91% isopropyl alchol. You can purchase it at Target and most phamacy-style stores. They give a wipe with a jewelry polishing cloth...done!