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Rock Tumbler for stainless steel? [message #36815] Tue, 18 October 2011 01:45 UTC Go to next message
avatar archenemy76  is currently offline archenemy76
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Hello,

I've been making several jewelry items in stainless steel and although most of them seem to arrive (semi-)polished I usually go over them again with a dremel to polish them more. Its very time consuming, especially when I'm trying to get a smoother surface (versus just making them more shiny).

I'm wondering if anyone has tried putting their pieces in a rock tumbler and what results they get. Would it just make the pieces more shiny or could it actually smooth the surfaces so that the print lines are less noticeable?

thanks,
Alia


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Re: Rock Tumbler for stainless steel? [message #36823 is a reply to message #36815 ] Tue, 18 October 2011 02:56 UTC Go to previous messageGo to next message
avatar duann  is currently offline duann
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Hi Alia,

We do tumble the Stainless steel to a certain degree depending on the thickness of the part.

Cheers



Duann Scott, Designer Evangelist, Shapeways
Re: Rock Tumbler for stainless steel? [message #36956 is a reply to message #36815 ] Wed, 19 October 2011 15:24 UTC Go to previous messageGo to next message
avatar GlenG  is currently offline GlenG
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hi Alia,
Save your money and upgrade to a better rotary tool system.
Tumblers are random finishing systems. They wear down protrusions first. and cannot get into tight spoyts. There is NO control other than designing your work to accommodate this fact.

Scrap the Dremel and buy yourself a Foredom flex shaft system. This has been the industry standard for jewelers and fine metalworkers for over half a century. Costs around $300.

-Glen


"Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art."
Leonardo da Vinci
Re: Rock Tumbler for stainless steel? [message #36961 is a reply to message #36956 ] Wed, 19 October 2011 18:39 UTC Go to previous messageGo to next message
avatar erckgillis  is currently offline erckgillis
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I use three materials for buffing/polishing depending on size and shape in the materials. Micromark.com has great supplies for small parts as well a flexi shat attachment for your dremel tool! Harborfreight.com has local stores (USA) and cheap online ordering.

http://www.micromark.com/Dremel-Flex-Shaft,6945.html


1) For small fine parts I use Dremel or flexi shaft tool &3M Radial Brushes (see pic)

index.php?t=getfile&id=11477&private=0

These are great for high speed and complex shapes with micron sized polishing.

2) For flat backs and straight edges I prefer paper or mesh products like 3M polishing papers or diamond hone stones.
http://goo.gl/2OqyU

3) If you have rougher finish or need more cutting of ridges on larger parts that require smoothing vs. polishing try a buffing/polishing wheel and rouge compounds as abrasives. These work on all SW's glass, plastics and metals.

BLACK = Emery Compound, a course abrasive material for removal of scratches, pits, paint,
rust etc.
BROWN = Tripoli compound used for general purpose cut and color on most soft metals.
WHITE = Blizzard compound, used for color and final finish of harder metals, has a cutting action.
RED = Jeweller's Rouge, designed to polish without any cutting action. Safe on thin plates. Use
on its own wheel.
BLUE = A dryer, almost greaseless wheel - designed to polish without any cutting action. Safe
on thin plates. Use on its own wheel.
GREEN = Used exclusively for Stainless Steel.

Tips & Tools then PM me or see

http://www.caswellplating.com/buffs/buffman.htm

Ed

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Ed
ERCK Store
Re: Rock Tumbler for stainless steel? [message #36979 is a reply to message #36961 ] Wed, 19 October 2011 21:47 UTC Go to previous messageGo to next message
avatar archenemy76  is currently offline archenemy76
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Thanks guys! REALLY useful information.

I took a quick look at the Foredom Flex shaft system and it looks like a definite step up from the dremel but the price tag is a little steep for me right now. So maybe in the near future (or when my dremel breaks!).

I might try out those 3M radial brushes... I've tried using the wire ones for small parts but the wires end up getting bent in different directions and it makes it hard to reach small areas. So maybe these are a good alternative.

I've never used any of the compounds or rouges mostly because I didn't know which one to use. The stuff I've used was for polishing stainless steel but it didn't smooth (cut) the surface. I had to use a grinding stone or sand paper for the really rough surfaces. But I will definitely try those compounds now.

It looks like I can't get away from using hand tools... although I may end up getting a rock tumbler anyways since I found one for a pretty reasonable price and I can use it for some silver jewelry. I might experiment with my non-fragile stainless steel pieces and see what happens.

thanks again,
Alia


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Re: Rock Tumbler for stainless steel? [message #37029 is a reply to message #36979 ] Thu, 20 October 2011 15:00 UTC Go to previous messageGo to next message
avatar GlenG  is currently offline GlenG
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Hi Alia & all,
What we are talking about here is generically referred to as, Surface Conditioning (SC). Simply put, the method for making rough things smooth. Metal, stone, glass, wood, or plastic all require logical progressive procedures to accomplish this task. There is no simple "one step" way to go from rough to smooth, regardless of the material.

The methods, and choice of finishing supplies should always be based on three factors: the hardness of any given material, the initial roughness of the surface and the degree of final finish desired.

SC procedures always involve several steps/phases. First, a cut down phase to remove all the raised bumps, pits or defects on a surface. Aggressive cutting action is required here. For SW SS material, carbide burs in a rotary tool are most effective for this. The second step, is the smoothing phase, this removes deep scratches and waves caused by the first phase and should leave surfaces with an even plane. Diamond coated burs (points) are inexpensive and are great for this task. There are also many composite abrasive wheels and points that serve well for this purpose. The final phase is polishing, whereby a high shine is achieved, showing no scratches, pits or waviness. There are many composition wheels and polishing compounds to accomplish this phase.

Employing the proper finishing supply for each phase is imperative. It is a costly mistake to use less than adequate supplies for each phase. For instance; you would not initially use fine grit sandpaper to smooth a block of rough sawn wood. Well, you could, but it would take a ream of sand paper and month of Sundays to get the job done! The same is true with metal. "Bristle discs" are great for smoothing and wire wheels produce great final effects but neither supply was designed to cut down rough surfaces. It will be a frustrating waste of time and material to try this.

Yes, this is labor intensive work! But if you understand the basic principals of surface conditioning the task can be made less onerous and accomplished efficiently.
Now go out and let it SHINE.
-G


"Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art."
Leonardo da Vinci
Re: Rock Tumbler for stainless steel? [message #40036 is a reply to message #37029 ] Fri, 09 December 2011 22:56 UTC Go to previous messageGo to next message
avatar designerica  is currently offline designerica
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man, wish i'd read all this a couple months ago, before i figured it all out myself Wink

i found a flexshaft on my local craigslist and paid significantly less than the regular retail. just keep checking until someone offers one, and make sure you get the model number and check it online, and test it before you take it. i managed to find one that was unused. also you can take it apart and replace the pieces that are likely to break.

it's DEFINITELY worth upgrading to a flexshaft over a dremel. seriously, do it if you can. the difference is you can control the flexshaft speed with a foot pedal. the polishing wheels and radial brushes are not expensive.

i also use a belt sander attachment (not the foredom brand) with 1" diamond bands for flat surfaces. you can make the steel perfectly smooth with that. i keep the diamond bands wet while i work.

i think these guys have you covered on the other attachments. the wheels come in different shapes. i've been experimenting with the inside-ring shape for covering more area. the radial bristles are great. the lower grits won't do much on the steel, stick with the rougher ones.

i just recently acquired a small rock tumbler from a family member. i also got some steel shot with intentions to tumble silver and brass castings. but i could try it on a printed steel ring and see what it does.
Re: Rock Tumbler for stainless steel? [message #40046 is a reply to message #40036 ] Sat, 10 December 2011 01:41 UTC Go to previous messageGo to next message
avatar GlenG  is currently offline GlenG
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Steel shot is used for burnishing. It will not cut down the surface just brighten whatever is there. So if there are scrathces and print lines they will still be there after a tumble. The hi areas will be shinier though. Better read up on the procedure. You nedd to add water and special soap to the barrel. You also need to rinse and dry the shot after use or it will rust and cause lots of trouble the next time you use it. Also be aware that the shot can get jammed into tight spaces and be a real bear to remove. Personally I think it's a hatefull process all together.
Foredom flex shafts rule. Be leery of cheap import rip offs. I have abused one Foredom for over 30 years and it still purrs along. Keep the inner shaft lubricated as recommended to extend life. After a few years of hard use the inner fexible shaft will break and need replaced, usually at the worst possible time. Not a bad idea to keep a spare on hand. The outer sleeve will also eventually wear out after two or three inner shaft replacements. But replacement parts are reasonably priced. Handpieces eventually wear out and are usually cheaper to replace than repair. Some of the "specialty" handpieces add comfort and utility but they can be pricey.


"Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art."
Leonardo da Vinci
Re: Rock Tumbler for stainless steel? [message #40047 is a reply to message #40046 ] Sat, 10 December 2011 02:02 UTC Go to previous messageGo to next message
avatar designerica  is currently offline designerica
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well my real intention with the shot is to work-harden silver and brass. it's too soft after casting.

you can dry it by spreading it out on a towel. it's not that bad.

i have various grades of rock-tumbling medium that i got with the tumbler as well.

you can order shafts and etc. straight from foredom and it seems to be cheaper than most other places i've found.
Re: Rock Tumbler for stainless steel? [message #40099 is a reply to message #40047 ] Sun, 11 December 2011 17:36 UTC Go to previous messageGo to next message
avatar GlenG  is currently offline GlenG
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Peening will improve the strength over the "as cast" condition of most metals, but this is always relative to the ultimate strength of the particular material. Peening sterling will not make it as strong as brass. Peening brass will not make it as strong as steel ........ ever!
If a given design, executed in a given material, continues to bend or fail in the same manner it is simply mother nature pointing out the limits. Small changes in design details will often satisfactorily fix the problem. Ususally by way of increasing thickness, adding tapers and smoothing abrupt transitions. The proof of this is found everywhere in nature and has been a part of industrial practice for millenia.

-G


"Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art."
Leonardo da Vinci
Re: Rock Tumbler for stainless steel? [message #40100 is a reply to message #40036 ] Sun, 11 December 2011 18:02 UTC Go to previous messageGo to next message
avatar archenemy76  is currently offline archenemy76
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Hey designerica,

Let me know what results if any you get with stainless steel in a rock tumbler. My experiments are pretty much in line with what Glen has said (that a tumbler doesn't have much effect on SS). But I know from doing a little research that there are people who make stainless steel maille chain jewelry that swear by tumblers. In any case they are useful for other materials so I will be trying it out eventually on some other things.

Alia


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Re: Rock Tumbler for stainless steel? [message #40104 is a reply to message #40100 ] Sun, 11 December 2011 19:39 UTC Go to previous messageGo to next message
avatar stannum is currently online stannum
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The maille starts as smooth wire. They are not removing big bumps, just polishing or giving it a worn look.
Re: Rock Tumbler for stainless steel? [message #40107 is a reply to message #40099 ] Sun, 11 December 2011 20:13 UTC Go to previous message
avatar designerica  is currently offline designerica
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thanks glenn. my designs aren't failing. the sterling is just a little too soft and not springy enough to make for a good cuff. i've spoken to jewelers and tumbling with steel shot is definitely the answer. in fact, I tried it on one piece and it worked beautifully. and it did, indeed, take care of a problem that might otherwise have been solved by thickening the design-- it reduced the possibility of future breaking from metal fatigue.

I realize the sterling will always be softer than the brass. i'm a-ok with that.

 
   
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