FAQ: How Do I Make a Homemade Jewelry Tumbler?

When you run a small business like Peggy Li Creations handmade jewelry, you learn to make the most of your jewelry resources and supplies and pick up any great tips to make your jewelry making life easier and simpler. OK, so here's a great tip I picked up from some wonderful jewelry making instructors. It's easy to make a homemade jewelry tumbler! What are tumblers good for? You can use a tumbler to help remove firescale from your soldered metal pieces, harden homemade headpins/earwires (that you make from dead soft wire), and polish/harden your sterling silver pieces!

Here's what you need:
  • Clean plastic mayo/peanut butter/sturdy plastic jar with screw-top lid. Not too big, because you'll be shaking it with your hands.
  • Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid soap.

Here's what you do with your homemade jewelry tumbler:
  1. Put shot in the jar about 2/3 of the way in. Put a little dishwashing liquid in with the shot and water to cover in the jar. 
  2. Wire your silver pieces together (so they are easier to fish out) and drop them in the jar. 
  3. Shake, shake, shake! Give it a good shake for a few minutes. Remove your pieces, rinse well.
  4. Don't forget to dry your shot thoroughly when done. I like to spread it out across a towel.
Another great alternative is to take some tupperware and use that if you don't have a clean plastic jar. It leaks a little when you shake, so be careful!

Blue Dawn soap and a tupperware-style container as your tumbler. I have 1 lb of shot in there!
That's it! In the meantime, check out my handmade jewelry creations at Peggyli.com.

*UPDATE* - since this post I have since purchased a tumbler for my studio (my arms were getting tired!). I purchased a Lortone Tumbler, 3lb capacity from one of my fave supply stores, Beaducation. There is a handy video on the website as well, so check it out!

xoxo
Peggy

19 comments:

Suma said...

the blog is very interesting with the homemade jewelry tumbler...

cheers,
suma valluru
-----------------------------------------
http://www.kgottfriedinc.com

Gelsomina (Jill) Lucchesi said...

Thanks very much for sharing this idea! I just found your blog and love it.

Escoveitch said...

Thanks for the tip! I'm off to get me some non-ferrous shot.

Anthonia said...

Thanks, I was just thinking of how much a tumbler costs and then I remembered reading about your tip sometime ago. Will any other dishwashing liquid suffice (I live in the UK)?

plcpeggy said...

I don't know why she suggested Blue Dawn liquid soap specifically... I'm guessing any non-abrasive soap would work fine. I'm going to use some green Palmolive soap I have, personally ;-). Good luck!

knitsteel said...

Wow, that sounds like a lotta shakin'

Margaret said...

I see dawn recommended in a lot of books, something about the PH factor I think.

SRenaeS said...

Thanks for the tip. I never thought of actually making a tumbler myself before.

Wendy said...

I have a silly question, what is a stainless shot? And how much of it do I put into the container before shaking?

plcpeggy said...

By stainless shot, I mean "stainless steel shot" -- these are metal pieces made of stainless steel that is sold specifically for use in metal finishing. They come in an assortment of shapes (pins and balls, usually) to make sure they impact all sorts of surface shapes when in your tumbler. You can see an example here: Rio Grande Stainless Mixed Shot

Use about a cup of shot, depending on the size of the container. Give yourself room for the items to move around!

good luck,
peggy

Wendy said...

Peggy,

Thank you so much! I am new to all of this, and I've found your blog really helpful, and your jewelry is out of this world :)

Jewellery Shop Finder said...

heh, thats pretty cool - cheap too!

How long have you been making all this stuff then?

JSF

CAM Creations said...

Brill I will be making one of these when I get a empty jar.

Anonymous said...

Try the outdoor section of your locat discount store for the steel shot. It is used in shotgun shells for waterfowl, and as BB's, if they have reloading stuff they will have the shot!

sumita said...

Really it was a nice tip! I would like to try it out in my home. Thanks...

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, just a thought, but if you taped it and secured a towel around it, would it work in the dry using the fluff (no heat) setting...? Might just have to try it out for when my tumbler is occupied with rocks. ;)

Anonymous said...

I don't think you would want to use your dryer. It would be hard on it I would think.

Carol Sherman said...

I guess I would be one way to get my arms in shape! I was wondering about bbs. would those work? I know they're not different sizes or shapes but was curious what you thought. We go through a lot of peanut butter at my house and I find them extremely9 useful for holding many things, especially fluids.

Peggy Li said...

Hi Carol,
No, I wouldn't use BBs since they will get rusty with exposure to the water. The medium used in tumblers is a stainless steel to resist corrosion.

best,
Peggy