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? Or other metals that I've etched? (using ferric chloride, I think that's the name).

Stacy's Answer:

Welcome to the world of jewelry making Dolly! Hopefully, you'll avoid any huge disasters, but look at the stumbling blocks as learning opportunities! (I've learned a lot over the years! :-))As to tumbling etched copper and other metals such as silver, brass and bronze, I've never had a problem with the tumbling process removing my etchings. But then, I don't tumble them more than 6 hours or so. It really takes a long time for a regular rotary rock tumbler to remove enough layers of metal to smooth out an etch. If you are etching for the purpose of enameling and need a sharp, clean edge, you may wish to use a very soft brass brush to clean/prepare the metal vs. tumbling.

However, with all that being said, there IS something very important to do when tumbling etched items. Ferric Chloride WILL etch stainless steel! Be sure to thoroughly neutralize and rinse the etched items, removing all traces of the mordant BEFORE putting them in to tumble!!! Otherwise, you'll get a nasty residue on your shot that contaminates your jewelry items too. Things will come out dull and yucky looking from the tumbler. I had this happen to a friend of mine who thought her tumbler was on the fritz!

If it happens to you, clean your shot with a good shot cleaner and also clean out the rubber barrel. Run the tumbler for a couple of hours with just shot, water and a squirt of dish-soap. There should not be a metallic smell to the shot and the shot should be shiny stainless steel looking, not dark and dull.

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