▪ Tumbling Polishing Q & A ▪

Over the years, I have been asked a kazillion questions about tumble polishing jewelry. One would think it's a pretty cut and dry task to tumble jewelry. However, there are some tips and techniques that I've learned over the years which may help give you better results from your rotary style tumbler without having to learn some things the hard way.

Read my complete article on tumble polishing to get a good understanding of the process.

If you still have questions, check out what other visitors have asked in the posts below. I've now closed this thread to new questions. With over 100 questions and answers there's a good chance you'll find something to help with your particular situation. You might also try a site search.



Tumble Polishing Questions Asked by Other Visitors

Click below to see questions and responses from other visitors to this page...

Pitted silver 
Hiya I have recently purchased a tumbler with assorted stainless shot and used about half a teaspoon of the abrasive soap powder that came with the …

Tumbling 16g Byzantine Chain 
I've made byzantine-weave bracelets from sterling 16g jump rings. Can I safely tumble the bracelet to add shine? (The rings were previously tumbled but …

What's the best medium for removing burrs on sterling jump rings? 
I made a lovely chainmaille choker, but the jump rings -- some I made, some I purchased -- have burrs at the cuts. What medium should I use to get rid …

problem with HF tumbler tarnishing silver and other metals 
Have had the tumbler for months and have had problems with tarnishing metal.I have 2 lbs stainless shot and have run with the dawn (was told to use a …

cleaning post-pickle scum from tiny hard-to-handle pieces 
Hello-- and HELLLLP! I'm getting arthritis from wire-brushing bb-sized granulated balls of silver & bronze. After pickling them, they need to be cleaned …

tumbling genuine tuquoise 
Is it safe to tumble rough turquoise? If so what kind of grit do i use, and how long will it take? if not, what is a safe way to polish and shine them? …

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! …

Buffing/Tumbling Bulk Sterling Disc 
Hi, I run a hand stamped jewelry business and use sterling silver 22g. disc- mainly circles. I recently found a wholesale supplier that is 1/2 the cost …

Hand Stamped Jewelry 
I am brand new to jewelry making. I just purchased a Lortone tumbler. I use Silver Black to oxidize the hand stamper discs. Do you tumble the jewelry AFTER …

Silver coming out with black grease/scum 
Hey, I'm using a Lortone tumbler (relatively new barrel) with mixed jeweler's shot, small pinch of burnishing compound, and enough water to cover shot …

tumbling copper but want to keep the natural aged patina 
Hi, I have several coils of vintage copper wire that has a lovely aged patina that I would like to keep to the steampunk jewelry I make. I basically …

Tumbler barrel Not Turning 
I have a new tumbler - have filled the barrel as per instructions - but it refuses to turn - help. Stacy's Answer: This could be any of several …

Polishing Stamped Jewelry 
Hi, 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 …

My shot has turned very dark ? 
I recently tumbled some sterling that must have had a reaction from the soap with the left over pickle used? My shot turned very dark. Can I still use …

What are the plastic beads with the HF tumbler for? 
I am tumbling sterling silver in my HF tumbler for the first time ever, and am having trouble with the pieces getting the black/hematite look. I will try …

Tumbled too long? 
I tumbled a few silver bracelets and fell asleep. Oops! When I opened the container I was mortified to see that all my silver jewelry had turned a blackish …

Sterling turns black! 
I tumble my sterling jewelry with mixed stainless steel shot and it turns it black! It's driving my insane. I even exchanged the rubber housing (The Chicago …

Problem with Copper Patina Polishing 
Hello to everyone! I attached a photo of pieces what I get after tumbling. (picture keychains Mostar) and picture of finished product like I want to …

Walnut Shells Not Removing Tarnish in Tumbler 
I recently got into chainmaille and have finished about 20 different bracelets in Jewelers Brass- after a month of showing pieces around most have a very …

Protecting the Stone in Wire Wrap 
Does anyone know of a way to protect the stone in an already wire wrapped piece. I recently had some wraps tumbled and the silver was very nice, but the …

sterling turns coppery 
My sterling begins to look coppery if I tumble it for 20 or 30 minutes...and doesn't get polished no matter how long it runs. What am I doing wrong? …

Tumble Polishing Causing My Jewelry to Tarnish? 
Hi! I've been trying to tumble polish for a week now and am having troubles with a coating that looks like tarnish. My sterling and copper pieces …

Brass & Copper Tumble 
Can you tumble brass (jewelers brass - nugold) & copper together? If so, is it worth adding the burnishing to it. Thank you Stacy Deb Mae Stacy's …

What shot can be used to get a matte, dull shine on silver discs? 
I now use ss shot in my 3lb tumbler overnight on my handstamped sterling silver 1/2" discs. Then I re-tumble w/these plastic small green pyramid shaped …

Wire wraps 
Hi, you have a great site! My question is, in wire wrapping stones with 22 gauge argentium wire, can you successfully tumble them to harden them without …

Tumbling Gold and Silver Together 
I've been doing a lot of chainmaille lately and I have found I prefer working with tumbled rings. I usually have enough components to tumble my gold-filled …

Where can I buy stainless shot? 
Where can I buy stainless steel shot for a good price? $20.00/ lb. is the cheapest I have found so far for it. Also how much do I need for a 3 lb tumbler …

How To Tumble 18, 20, 22 GA round wire - Oxidized Sterling Silver 
If I wanted to tumble an ounce of Oxidized Sterling Silver, could I do it in the smaller Loratone tumbler? Is it better to oxidized after the piece is …

Tumbling Lampwork 
I find myself reading your website and realizing I really have no idea what I am doing. Your thoughts on jewelry tumbling are unique in that I have pored …

Water Turning Grey 
My tumbler was working really well until I put in some beads with fine silver on them - the water came out a dark grey colour and the shot is dull and …

Grey scum on copper pieces after tumbling. 
I have just started using copper with my lampwork beads, and when I tumble the pieces I get a grey scum in all the crevices, which I have to brush out …

Using a Tumbler for Polishing Jewelry with Beads 
Hi Stacy, I would like to ask you about using a tumbler for polishing jewelry with beads as ceramic, lampwork, pearls, gems, corals. What kind of beads …

Tumbling Oxidized Metal 
Have you ever had a problem with tumbling oxidized metal? Is it better to tumble it dry — copper, for example? If I oxidize it to black and tumble it, …

Rotary tumbler eats belts 
Hi, we live in Bali and tumble alot of small bits and pieces for our jewelry. We just bought a new Chinese(kyngty jewelry Machine) rotary tumbler and …

My pieces got black while tumbling with steel shot. How can I salvage them  
My Argentium silver is now black after I solider them how can I salvage them? Stacy's Answer: Tumbling does not remove torch residue or firescale …

Different speeds on Tumbler - ?? And items getting stuck to sides 
Hi! Thanks for a great blog again. I make silver jewellery and use my tumbler a lot. I have a couple of issues - 1. If I have hand polished an item …

Using BBs as shot? 
Hi, I am looking for a more Economical source of shot for my harbor freight tumbler. I haven't used it yet but I will be polishing and hopefully hardening …

Can Enameled Coated Copper Wire be tumbled 
Can Enameled Coated Copper Wire be tumbled? If so, will it lose the coloured enamel? How long would I tumble for? Stacy's Answer: Hi Betty! …

cutting before burnishing? 
Hi, I have just bought a barrel polisher & steel shot. I am polishing solid 9ct gold pieces which I have cleaned up and sanded with a fine paper. I …

Copper coming out dark brown? 
Hey I just got a HF tumbler for Christmas. A much needed item that should save me hours of polishing... I use stainless shot, and tried Dawn dish washing …

Antiquing gold 
Professional platers often use some sort of black lacquer over gold to give it an antiqued look. I know they tumble it but I wish I knew what they …

tumbling glass 
Can I tumble glass pieces in my tumbler with stainless steel shot? Will the edges soften? Stacy's Answer: Hi Patti! I don't use the tumbler …

Buffing earring wires 
My sister gave me a beautiful pair of earrings where the wires are Sterling silver but too thick to put into my ear lobe. I tried to sand one wire down …

Brass sealing ??? 
I've recently got into hand stamped jewelry. I've been using stainless steel and brass blanks because they are fairly inexpensive, especially compared …

Tumbling fingerprint jewellery ? 
Hi! Have you any tips for tumbling silver items that have been fingerprinted- is there a way of protecting the print from being worn down while the …

Brown Copper 
I use Liver of Sulfur gel to oxidize copper. I clean the excess off before putting it in my tumbler. I use Dawn detergent when tumbling copper. I then …

My sterling bracelet won't harden... 
I've been tumbling a sterling bracelet for over a day. Initially tried for a few hours, just not getting harder. I want it to harden so bracelet doesn't …

Removing copper overtones from bronze? 
Is there a burnishing compound that will remove copper overtones from soldered bronze in a tumbler? I end up spending hours polishing bronze to remove …

Vibratory vs Rotary Tumbler for Sterling Jewelry and Findings 
Hello, I spoke with a friend of mine, a professional jeweler of 20 years experience about my cleaning/buffing/polishing needs and he recommended …

Polishing Stainless Steel Jewellery 
Hi I work with wire and crystal and some semi-precious stones (but mainly with glass and crystal beads). The metal wires I use mainly is stainless steel, …

file marks on jewelry pieces 
How do I remove file marks and pits from jewelry pieces? Stacy's Answer: Hi Manzoor! File marks and other surface blemishes on non-ferrous metal …

What is a gentle polishing compound I can use in vibrating jewelry cleaner to polish coral 
I have a branch coral necklace that has no luster. I want to polish it, and read one could use a vibrating jewelry cleaner machine but instead of cleaner …

About the Lortone tumbler 
I am in the process of purchasing a tumbler and have found your article very helpful but do have a question. I would like to tumble a brass cuff roughly …

Hand-Stamped Jewelry 
I am new to jewelry making, and I love making hand-stamped jewelry. I have recently purchased a tumbler (Lortone 3A), and I would like to know what steps …

cross contamination 
Our club uses a vibratory tumbler with mixed steel shot and Barrel Brite to polish silver, gold, copper and gold filled jewellery and possibly brass. …

Tumbling silver 
I have a new tumbler. I have tumbled some silver pieces using shot, barreling compound and water. The water has turned brown and my silver is tarnished. …

Buying Sterling silver blanks 
I have been using nickel, aluminum, and copper for stamping. I see that a lot of people have been using sterling silver and selling their jewelry for reasonable …

what media should I use 
Hi, I make sterling silver jewelry, and was wondering what media is used to harden sterling? and how long to leave it in? Also, would doing this make it …

Why does my Raytech Tumbler not polish my pieces? 
I am using a Raytech tumbler with Dri-shine III media but it does not polish my Silver pieces. They look exactly the same as when they went in. I have …

Beginner 
Hi there! I just came across your info on tumbling. Im a beginner considering purchasing a tumbler if it will help me. I currentl hand stamp my charms …

Tumbling Bezel-Set Labradorite 
I have a piece I've been meaning to tumble but it already has a set piece of labradorite in it. Have you had any experience tumbling this gemstone? …

Gold-Filled Tumbling 
Can you tumble gold-filled jewelry? For how long? Using what materials? Stacy's Answer: Hi Lynn! Although I haven't worked with gold-filled …

scuff marks 
Hi, after putting our sterling silver discs in the tumbler and letting them tumble for a few hours or up to 24hrs they come out sticking together, or have …

tumbling jewelry with enamel 
Hi - have chased/repoussed a copper cuff with depressions for enamel, and need to work harden the metal after being in the kiln for the enameling (the …

!jewelry comes out sticky & yellowish 
I have used the Lortone tumbler for a year or so (a friend's) I bought the Harbor Frieght one this year. And when I use it my jewelry comes out yellowish …

Tying pieces together to tumble 
Hi Stacy- I just started making my own silver filled ear wires, and I want to tumble them both to work-harden and to clean them before I oxidize them. …

tumbling ring with gemstones 
I want to make pmc rings with gemstone inlays.. can I put them in the tumbler with the stones in? Thank you!!! :) Stacy's Answer: Hi Shelly! …

Need longer Barrel 
Do you know of any mfg of one long barrel to fit the Lortone double barrel? Stacy's Answer: Sorry, but no.

tumbling etched copper blanks 
Obviously, l'm new at this, but anxious to begin and hopefully avoid too many disasters. Will tumbling remove any or all etching from 24 g. copper blanks? …

double duty for tumbler? 
I would like to ask if you think I can use my brand-new Lortone 3a for metal finishing AND sea glass polishing (diffferent fillings of course..) Or will …

Tumbling chain 
I make my own Niobium and Argentium Sterling Silver chain. I am getting a new tumbler soon, so have no experience with this process yet. Is there anything …

before or after?? 
Do you tumble/polish gemstones before or after cutting gemstones into desired shapes? Thanks, Dawn Stacy's Answer: Hi Dawn! While I have …

could be use it for cupper with stones jewelery? 
Hi! If I have jewelery made of copper with semiprecious stones or crystals can I use the tumbler without affecting or beining harmful for stones? …

Sterling Silver discs stick to rubber barrel 
I'm having a problem with my Lortone 3A tumbler. My discs always seem to stick to the rubber barrel. They don't really get tumbled and have black around …

Aluminium not coming out shiny 
Hi I have found that it takes a fair few hours to get my silver shiny and often it has small "dents" that are blackened in it after hours and hours! I …

stopped tumbling 
My old and trust lortone barrel doesn't seem to want to turn anymore. The bar is still moving though. Any thoughts? Roberta Stacy's Answer: …

Mixed metal pieces - tumble? 
I have a handmade chain of mixed metal: sterling silver and copper. I haven't had luck tumbling it to a bright finish. Some places on the internet say …

Tumbling Copper 
Hello, What is best to use in tumbler when tumbling copper? thank you, Tammy Stacy's Answer: Tammy, if you haven't done so I would recommend …

How many barrels 
Can you use the same barrel for fine silver, copper and polymer clay? Obviously, not at the same time just using the same barrel washed between media. …

Tumbling hand made silver /gold plated ear wires 
If I hammer plated metal ear wires i have made and then want to polish them, will they tarnish at the ends? or will they polish up? Stacy's Answer: …

Dirty shot and brassy silver. Yikes! 
Can I use baking soda to polish my shot? or is flat Coke better? I tumbled some heavily tarnished pieces with some I had just forged and the new ones …

Is there a way to tumble Sterling silver chain? 
I was wondering if you can tumble thin Sterling silver chain? If not, how else can I polish it? Stacy's Answer: Hi Riley. You could wrap your chain …

Tumbling vs Lathe polishing 
In the past, most of my jewelry was at least partially soldered and I only used a lathe for polishing. (even on pieces that weren't soldered) I am starting …

Does stainless steel shot need replacing? 
Hi there, just wondering if I need to replace my jewelry shot? I use the Lortone 3A tumbler and have 1-lb of stainless steel jewelry mix shot in it, have …

Why does the silver turn grey 
When tumbling why does the silver some times turn grey Stacy's Answer: Hi Dave. Sorry for the long delay in responding. Your question was accidentally …

My silver pieces look no different after 2 hrs of tumbling 
hi there, I recently purchased a Lortone 3A tumbler. I followed all the instructions and my sterling silver pieces looked absolutely no different after …

How long to tumble 
Stacy, How long would I tumble ear wires to work harden them? Is there a general rule of thumb for time to tumble to work harden jewelry pieces? Thanks. …

tumbling gold castings 
I would like to know if a vibratery tumbler can remove casting lines from gold. I have used green plastic pyramids with a small amount of water for 20 …

Tumbling Permanently Colored Copper Wire Coiled Components 
I make lampwork beads. I have begun using the beads in wire jewelry. I make links and/or coils of permanently colored copper wire. I can harden some …

smoothing sawed brass edges 
How do I smooth rough sawed metal egdes on my handmade components? Stacy's Answer: I usually use a medium or fine-cut hand file for metal to smooth …

Will tumbling remove an etched image? 
I would like the last step of my construction process to be the tumbling and not to etch after tumbling. the metal will be red brass, is it ok to put …

Polishing Gold Filled and Silver 
I have some charms that have scratchy marks on the back, almost a brushed finish because the are stamped, not cast. I was hoping the tumbler would remove …

Want to turn white pewter in a tumbled satin-matte finish 
Hello: I recently bought a Thumbler Tumbler to tumble white pewter figurines (D&D) into a nice satin-matte finish. I am using a ceramic media of different …

Tiny specs all over silver 
I have been trying to tumble some silver castings in my 3lb tumbler and they keep coming out with tiny specs all over them. Do you know what is causing …

Help finding non-toxic tumbling recipe 
I've wanted to avoid retail burnishing compounds since I have a toddler and prefer to keep everything as non-toxic as possible. I've been experimenting …

Tumble Polishing Coral Beads 
What would I use to re-polish coral beads in a tumbler? Stacy's Answer: Hello to you in Hawaii Maria! I can help you with questions about metal work, …

Ever worked with Titanium? 
Hello, I have been doing chainmaille jewelery for several years, and have always used a tumbler with great results on almost every metal, from bronze, …

Tumbling silver and brass together? 
I've read that you can tumble copper and silver together, but what about brass and silver? Is it safe? Thanks! Stacy's Answer: Hi Angela! I tumble …

Can a US Tumbler be used in Spain?  
Hi, I know very little about tumbling and am trying to learn quickly!!! I live in Spain but have only found tumblers I can buy from the US. Can these …

Wire Jewelry White Instead of Bright After Tumbling 
My silver wire jewelry comes out looking white instead of bright and the silver beads looks grey. I'm using stainless shot and Woolite. What am I doing …

Toy Tumbler 
All I have (and all I can afford right now) is a "Rolling Stones" red plastic toy tumbler. I think it has maybe a 1/2 pound capacity. About how much shot …

Can you tumble silver plated jump ring chainmail? 
Can you tumble silver plated chainmail jewelry to harden it? Will it affect the plating? Stacy's Answer: Hi Lisa. Tumbling will polish up and help …

Time to tumble 
How long should I tumble a chainmaille Byzantine bracelet in a Lortone 3a tumbler? Stacy's Answer: Shirley, that would depend upon what metal you …

Tumbling copper and silver together  
Can you tumble copper and silver together? Stacy's Answer: This seems to be a popular question. Yes, you can tumble copper and silver together. …

Silver looks the same afterwards! 
So apparently one pound of stainless steel shot should be enough for a Lortone 3A tumbler, but I'm beginning to wonder. Or I'm doing something wrong! …

What size tumbler to use 
I am a wire-wrapper and I want to tumble/burnish my wire-wrap bracelets with stainless steel shot. About 7" circumfrance and 1/2" wide. Say tumble about …

Tumbling Argentium Wire Chains 
What would the correct work sequence be when working with Argentium Silver chains? Tumble first then place in oven to improve tarnish resistance OR …

Safely Tumbling Freshwater Pearls and Silver? 
Stacy's Answer: Hi Christine! As pearls are soft, it's the banging around in there and the abrasiveness of the shot or other hard items in the …

cleaning oxidized wire wraps 
what is the easiest and most time efficient way to clean the oxidization from LOS off of wire wraps. i often have clusters of small (26g) wraps and have …

Tumble Scratches 
I tumbled some silver pieces last night and they are all the same size and shape pretty much. One piece came out with some scratches in one area but the …

I want to tumble polish a bottle 
I want to tumble polish an old glass bottle to enhance its appearance and remove a surface of glass sickness from being burried in the ground will this …

Tumbling aluminum wire 
Can you tumble aluminum wire to harden it just like you do silver or other wires? Stacy's Answer: Hi Billi! From the limited amount I know about …

Gold foil in the tumbler 
Hi...Is it ok to tumble an earring that has gold foil on it? The gold foil is attached using a torch and burnisher. Thanks for your help. Rachel …

Should I tumble silver plated jump rings? 
My question is simple, I think? Can silver plated jump rings be tumbled to remove burrs? Margaret Stacy's Answer: Hi Margaret! There are a lot …

Stone hardness and tumbling 
Do you have a certain "Moh" hardness level you would suggest NOT tumbling? I know you mentioned turquoise and pearls and dyed corals but what about the …

Copper Turned Dark 
My Copper Bracelet came out beautifully the first time I tumbled it but the 2nd time it turned out dark and looked ugly, dark and tarnished. I used Tarn-X …

Tumble Burnishing Gold-Fill Wire 
Hi- Is there a way to tumble polish - burnish gold fill wire to a satin/brushed/ or matte finish before I wrap gems or incorporate it into a final piece? …

Alternatives to tumbling 
Dear Stacy, I would like to make woven wire jewelry which incorporates Swarovski crystals, Freshwater pearls, gemstones (some softer than 5 on the Mohs …

Using a vibrating tumbler to remove oxidation 
Hello! I oxidize copper and silver for metal pendants. I am trying to find a way to speed up my polishing step. So I purchased a vibrating tumbler with …

Removing Plier Marks With a Tumbler 
I thought I had heard from someone that the tumbler will remove little dings and marks made by your pliers on your handmade silver jewelry pieces. On the …