TOP TIPS FOR USING YOUR JEWELRY TUMBLER

Posted by Corkie Bolton on

This month, I received a Lortone Tumbler from @seattlefindings (an awesome jewelry supply company, check them out! ) After having the opportunity to play with this awesome rotary tumbler, I wanted to share our community's top tips! 

This is the Lortone 3A Rotary Tumbler.

Prior to using my tumbler I prepped the barrel with flat Coca Cola.

PRIOR TO USING YOUR TUMBLER, PREP IT WITH FLAT COCA COLA!

If you purchase a tumbler with a rubber barrel, this tip can help prevent the rubber barrel from leaching rubber onto your pieces. Take flat Coca Cola and tumble with your steel shots for 30 minutes, its critical that you patiently allow the Coca Cola to become completely flat as the agitation in the tumbler could create a fizzy disaster! Then rinse the shots and tumbler and you are ready to go. I wish I could explain the exact science behind this, but something in the Coca Cola helps seal the rubber. As to whether or not other brands of cola work, I'm not sure!

USE DISTILLED WATER AND DAWN SOAP

It is advised to use distilled water in your tumbler, especially if you have hard water (high mineral content). I also recommend sticking with a few drops of Dawn soap (or something comparable) instead of using burnishing compounds. Burnishing compounds are very effective and work great in plastic/acryclic tumbler barrels but they can be corrosive to rubber barrels. When rubber barrels breakdown they deposit rubber onto your pieces which is annoying to clean off (try soaking in acetone!) While rubber barrels can last for many years, eventually they do need replacement!

IF YOUR TUMBER HAS NO ON AND OFF SWITCH, NO PROBLEM!

If you want to control exactly how long you tumble you can plug your tumbler into an outlet timer. The one I use has a dial with 24 hours on it and you can choose as many 15 minute increments as you like.

PROPER USE OF YOUR TUMBLER

  • Make sure you fill your tumbler barrel 3/4 way to keep it tumbling efficiently!
  • It's normal for your tumbler to get very hot when running it for prolonged periods (like when you rock tumble for days.)
  • The washer on this Lortone also doubles as a tool for prying open the lid from the barrel.
  • You can purchase 1lb of steel shots and it will be more than enough for your barrel.
  • A strainer (with a fine enough mesh that the shots won't fall through) is a great tool for pouring the contents of your tumbler into, when you are ready to rinse.
  • It doesn't hurt to lay your shot out to dry when you are done using it and then store in a jar.

People often wonder how long they should tumble their jewelry for. I've heard widely varying opinions on this. If you tumble with steel shots they are going to rub against the surface of your work as the barrel tumbles, giving your work a uniform shine. The tumbler does not remove scratches, or excess solder. So that being said 30-60 minutes in a tumbler will achieve this shine on your metal. However some people do prolonged tumbling and it will help add rigidity to earring wires, posts and other thin gauged wires. When it comes to tumbling work with set gemstones, you have to proceed cautiously! Diamonds, sapphires and rubies (which are some of the hardest stones on the MOH scale) are going to be fine (typically) but softer stones you do run a risk. Sometimes its the act of more than one piece of jewelry in the tumbler together banging against each other, which can cause an issue for softer stones. So experiment, but always ask yourself "how would I feel if this stone was damaged?" prior to throwing a piece in there.

Be sure to join our community on Instagram! You can check out one of our tumbler posts and join the conversation in the comments thread! Thank you to everyone who shared their tumbler experiences and tips!

If you are interested in purchasing a Lortone tumbler you can check them out at Seattle Findings. Big thanks to them for supporting Metalsmith Society. If you'd like to support this page visit our shop!

SOCIETY MUG

It's the official Metalsmith Society mug, perfect for enjoying a hot beverage in your studio. Available for fulfillment in Europe, making it a great option for international orders.

SOCIETY STICKER PACK

This set of of six vinyl stickers are thick, durable, and waterproof! Perfect for your notebook, toolbox or anywhere else you want to represent our Society! 

SOCIETY RAGLAN SHIRT

A modern baseball style raglan made from a comfortable poly-cotton blend. Its key feature is the classic combo of contrasting ¾ sleeves and collar. 

3 comments


  • Regarding the voltage, you can specifically buy tumblers with 220v cords (ask me how I know lol) I purchased one by accident and had to return lol. In the United States we use 110v (for anyone reading that isn’t familiar).

    Corkie Bolton on

  • Hello,
    That is an amazing and useful post, thank you for sharing!!
    I’m planning to buy a Lortone Tumbler but I coudn’t find any place where they explain if it’s adapted to Europe energy…
    Here we use 220v and they are US made so they’re bot compatible…
    Do you have any advice with that?
    Thank you very much,
    Marta.

    Marta on

  • Hello, I have steel shots for shinny pieces and ceramic shots fot mate pieces.
    In the ceramic shots I put some steel shots too so I get some glitter. It gives a very beautiful finish

    Andrea Pabón on

Leave a comment