Question: I modify stainless steel flatware and dinner service pieces for other uses. In the process of modifying I use heat to bend, cutting wheels, grinding wheels, drilling and some sawing. The pieces are blued from the heat and have grinding marks, cutting marks and holes with burrs. I am presently de-burring and removing grinding and cutting marks by hand. After cleaning up the pieces I polish them to a high shine by hand. I have recently obtained a vibrating tumbler. What suggested media can be used to do the clean up and the polishing? How long would it take to tumble in these processes?
Response: The surface roughness of your parts will determine what media to use. Typically the first step would use a preformed ceramic aggressive cut media (the larger the better) for material removal. The second step would be a general purpose ceramic. Both operations should be done with a nonferrous deburring liquid compound diluted to a proper user strength. The operation should be wet with minimal water or suds. Cycle time are typically 1-4 hours for these deburring steps.
For a bright finish a precision ceramic polishing or steel media can be used. A compound with good lubricity is recommended for this third step. Processing time may be 4 hours with steel media and up to 8 hrs with precision ceramic. For a higher polish and smoother finish, the parts can be tumbled in a pretreated walnut shell grit for 8 to 24 hours for a jewelry quality finish.