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 a bunch of designs that don't require soldering. I'm sure there are personal preferences, etc. but what are the basic different circumstances for when you would use a tumbler and when you would use the lathe?
Hi Carol. First, let me apologize for the long delay. I accidentally marked your question along with several others as "completed." In case you have not already found your answer, here's mine.
I make jewelry both with and without solder and the soldering (or lack there of) is not a deciding factor in how the jewelry is finished. I prefer to tumble small items or intrigate items. Jewelry pieces with large surface areas like cuffs, bangles, larger cast pieces, etc. I prefer to use a buffing machine on.
I agree with you in that a lot of finishing work is personal preference. Sometimes, I'll try one method, and then switch to the other if I don't get the desired results the first time. With all the different wheels and mediums available for the lathe, AND the results are immediate, I tend to use it for different purposes and when I want something polished up fast. I never use the lathe or buffing/polishing machine on wire items as I don't want to clean rouge out of the busy bits, nor do I want to catch something in it which could result in an injury or ruined piece.
If I need to burnish something down, like an unwanted texture or roughness or add a texture, etc. I use my lathe. Tumbling is great for polishing a great many items all-at-once, allowing you to move on to other things while they polish. Findings, wire-work, etc. come out beautifully in the tumbler!