Tumbling aluminum wire

by Billi
(York, PA)

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 aluminum, if you tumble it in stainless steel or ceramic media you will pit and mar the surface. Yes, tumbling will harden the metal some just like silver, etc., but you must use a different tumbling medium.

For successful aluminum tumbling, start out using a plastic medium. This will help remove any burrs, etc. that the metal may have. To achieve a high luster finish, finish tumbling using a walnut shell medium that has been coated with red rouge. This is messy stuff, but it's very effective. You need to tumble for a long period of time, about 18-24 hours.

A word of caution...the red rouge may also coat the rubber of your rotary tumbler. You'll want to clean it thoroughly before adding stainless steel shot back to it and/or adding your silver, copper, etc. jewelry items. If you are going to be tumbling aluminum a lot, a separate rubber tumbling barrel or even a separate tumbler may be in order. Also, if you're using a color-coated wire, the color will probably come off or get damaged with any of the tumbling media.

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