Want to turn white pewter in a tumbled satin-matte finish


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 sizes and shapes, the smallest being the size of a bb and the largest being one inch. I am not using any water nor dish detergent. It is a dry tumble. I had some good results with the media a few weeks ago before I put in the ceramic bb's.

Should I use water and dawn and take out the ceramic bb's? I am tumbling as I write you and the tumbler has been going for the past 7 hours ( I have stopped it now and then to see if there has been any progress) and the pewter looks white still, but it is beginning to dull up a little on each piece. Would I have better luck with stainless steel shot and Dawn with water to get a nice looking satin-matte finish?

Looking forward to hearing back from you.

Thank you,
P.S. I am using a 12 or 15 pound tumbler. I recently bought two 3 pound tumblers for smaller loads. Should I tumble smaller pieces in the 3 pound tumbler. Right now, the tallest piece is almost 3" in height.

Stacy's Answer:

Hi Richard!

I can't help you much with this subject matter as I have zero experience with pewter other than cleaning the various bowls and platters I have here in my home.

Did you mean the red, Thumler tumbler? I'm not familar with a "Thumbler Tumbler". Because of the heavy shot used, it would be easy to overload a smaller tumbler. A 3" tall piece is pretty large for a small tumbler. Be sure not to overload it's 3 pound limit. It's important that the shot be able to get all around the item for even polishing. You can tell if it's not, because the items will only be polished in some areas, while the rest of it looks untouched. I think your larger tumbler would be the better choice. The Thumler rotary tumblers work really well.

While I've never worked with pewter myself, I understand that steel BB's are usually used to polish the metal. Pewter is more porous than finer metals so you don't want to use a medium that could be embedded in the soft pewter, such as anything with a rouge. I would not add water to the mix as steel will rust when it's combined with water, and that could cause a real problem. I assume that tumbling dry is the traditional method, based on the above. Using all steel BB's or 1/4" steel balls, should produce a shiny finish on the pewter. I'm sorry to say that I have no clue as to the length of time needed to produce the different finishes.

Readers, if anyone is an expert on this, your insight would be much appreciated!!

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May 01, 2014
steel media water dish soap
by: Anonymous

while I just got my own equipment I saw it done in person in a wet steel shot tumbler at woodbury pewterers in Woodbury CT use a drop of dish soap if you do. only a drop so it doesn't get too foamy

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