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Beading Resources > Free Beading Instructions > > Tumbling and Polishing Jewelry and Stones with a Tumbler

 Tumbling and Polishing Jewelry and Stones with a Tumbler 

by Tammy Honaman, Author, Jewelry-Making Expert and Educator,
Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®
9A7T

: : : Materials : : :
End of Materials List
Step 1
Unscrew the nut on the top of the barrel. Remove the metal washer. Remove the outer metal lid. If the lid is difficult to remove, insert the washer into the area between the lip of the lid and the barrel and twist to lift the lid away from the barrel. Work all the way around the lid to loosen until the lid can be removed.
Step 2
Pull the center bolt on the inside lid to expose the inside of the barrel.

Place the items beings tumbled into the barrel.
Step 3
For rocks: Fill the barrel with the rocks until the barrel is 1/2 to 2/3 full. Then fill with the first level abrasive medium. Add water to cover the rocks and abrasive.

For jewelry materials: Fill the barrel with the metal charms, wireworked elements, metal-clay designs, etc. Add 2 pound stainless steel shot. Add burnishing compound (dilute mixture of liquid dish soap and water) to the barrel until it's filled to just above the shot and jewelry components.

Replace the inner lid, the metal outer lid, the washer then the nut until the lid is secure.Only tighten the nut by hand, not with tools.
Step 4
Plug the tumbler in, then place the barrel onto the rollers, lining up the groove in the nut with the guide on the base of the tumbler.

For rocks: Let the tumbler run for 2-3 days. Check the barrel to make sure you see progress, the rough edges should be wearing down. Restart the tumbler and let it go for a few more days. Once you are satisfied with the progress, empty the contents of the tumbler into a bucket. Rinse the rocks with fresh water.

Repeat the tumbling procedure using progressively finer grits of abrasive compound.

Do not dispose of the water in the bucket down a household drain as it will clog the pipes--dispose outside in an area safe for disposing water and pieces of rock.

For jewelry: Let the tumbler run for 20 minutes then check progress. If needed, run the tumbler longer until the desired finish is achieved. Dump the stainless steel shot and jewelry components into a sieve over a bucket. Remove the jewelry components and rinse them with soap and water. Let dry. Return the shot to the tumbler barrel for storage or leave it in the sieve undisturbed until it is dry, then place in a zip-top bag. Dispose the water in the bucket as you would other wash water.

Have a question regarding this project? Email Customer Service.

Copyright Permissions

Permission to copy this instruction sheet is granted for non-commercial educational purposes only. All other reproduction requires written permission. Please email copyrightpermission@firemtn.com for more information.

Products sold by Fire Mountain Gems and Beads® are intended for experienced jewelry-makers and designer-artists;
children 14 years of age or younger should use these products with adult direction.

Fire Mountain Gems and Beads, Inc. - One Fire Mountain Way, Grants Pass, OR USA 97526-2373
Copyright 2008-2014 Fire Mountain Gems and Beads, Inc. All rights reserved.