Walnut Shells Not Removing Tarnish in Tumbler

by James

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 dull look now so I bought a tumbler and 24 grit Walnut media. After 5 hours of tumbling barely any of the patina was removed and it was on the insides of the bracelet where the rings were rubbing (the outside rings on my European 4 in 1 and European 6 in 2 are still dark).

What am I doing wrong? Are you supposed to add water to tumble with Walnut? I also saw Glass bead (80 grit) media at the store- any thoughts?

Any help appreciated! :-)

Stacy's Answer:

Hi James! Thanks for your question!

I don't use walnut shells as a tumbling medium and glass beads are not for metal jewelry use. When using walnut shells, they are to be used dry. The red rouge saturated wallet shells will nicely polish non-ferrous metals, but it is also very messy to use. I've found picking tiny walnut shell pieces from the nooks and crannies of jewelry an unpleasant chore. :-)

For chainmaille, you will probably have better results using a stainless steel shot tumbling medium. I use a mixed media shot with different shaped pieces. But if you are wanting the shot to remove a lot of the patina you've added, try using the small pins. They look like small 1/2 inch sized nails with a point at each end.

Brass, like copper will oxidize pretty quickly especially when displayed in the outdoors like a show environment. Even if kept in a glass case, being handled transfers oils to the metal which then can get baked on under high-powered LED lights found in many jewelry case displays. Constant cleaning and polishing is a must even when working with gold and silver. A pain to be sure!

Using the proper medium in your tumbler should make the cleaning of your pieces a snap! Tumbling with a combo of stainless steel (DO NOT USE STEEL SHOT AS IT RUSTS AND RUINS THE JEWELRY!!!), enough water to cover and a squirt of liquid dishsoap, should restore the luster of your chainmaille jewelry within an hour or so. I then usually finish my jewelry by buffing with a jewelry polishing cloth for further luster and to provide some tarnish resistance.

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Jun 03, 2011
Walnut shells?!
by: BellaJ

I found this so interesting! I hadn't even heard of using walnut shells in a tumbler. Thanks for the info :) I find a lot of my tumbling supplies at http://www.jewelrytools.com, but they definitely don't sell walnut shells, lol.

Feb 19, 2015
Thanks for the info on walnut shells
by: Judith

I recently purchased a tumbler and was considering using the walnut shells for 'finish' tumbling on wire wrap pendants. Although SSshot sounded like too much, think I will go that route after reading your question. Thanks for saving me some time and $$'s.

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