I LOVE my tumbler.
It saves me a ton of hand work which is getting to be a serious priority.
I have had this question come up a time or two so I thought maybe a simple explanation I could refer people to might be useful.
At what point in the process do I use my tumbler for patinated metals?
I ONLY tumble ‘worked’ metal, never patina-ted items.
This is not to be confused with liver of sulphur antiquing which I will explain later. Dye oxide, Universal and Traditional patina solutions should never be in your tumbler.
You can finish your metal up to the point where you would spend an hour filing and burnishing and instead put your cleaned metal into 2 lbs of stainless steel shot, 1 small drop of Dawn dish detergent and water up to the level of the shot. Then tumble it for 30 to 60 minutes depending on how smooth and shiny you would like for your metal to be finished at.
Yay! Now you can go do something fun with your fingers!
Once tumbled, your metal piece is considered 'work hardened'. It has been softened by heat, shaped and textured by hammers, filed on the edges and tumbled for a length of time to compact the metal particles and create a strong metal.
|I get hearts from little elves drawn in my shot.|
I pour out the excess suds and water. I then spread out a towel, pour out my shot and metal onto the towel, pick out all “my treasures” as the kiddos call them and let the shot and towel dry over night before bundling up the shot in the towel and placing it back in the barrel. I tuck the towel down and loosely place the lid with all its parts on the top of the barrel.
I’m tellin you this cause it’s IMPORTANT!
This keeps your shot clean and free from debris that could tarnish metal instead of polish it. Like wd40 you use to get the rotaries going every week or so. This happened daily in Florida before I had to move my work bench back inside. The rust was causing the inner spindles from turning smoothly and I had to spray wd40 on them every day to keep the tumbler running. But if you are not careful, some tiny amounts of oil can get into the tumbler barrel and create what I like to call The Black Plague of Tumblers. Everything you tumble will have a black residue adhered to it and it requires metal cleaner to clean it off. Which is a WHOLE other blog post altogether.
One I have pictures for!
The metal is completely clean after draining off the shot. This lets me know as a patina artist, I can be sure the metal will receive the patina in the best way. Whether I’m just antiquing or actually changing the metal with heat and chemicals, it is totally ready.
I keep 2 barrels, 1 for BRIGHT metals that need a shiny burnished appearance and 1 for ANTIQUED metals that will leave liver of sulphur residue in my barrel and most likely taint the next bright and shiny batch I have tumbled!
I hope this helps and that you find the funds to buy one soon. Make sure you think about upkeep on it once you start using it in items you sell. I have needed to replace a little shot; $25 plus hefty shipping, a lid is getting loose and I should just get a new barrel with it which is another $20. Then there is a belt that will need to be replaced sometime soon but I am not sure about that price. This is within 3 years though.
So it is definitely worth the investment for the time and pain it saves my hands.
Much Love & Respect,