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Vibratory tumbling by Myers
Bill Myers of Myers Rapid Polish (now retired) over the years has sent us tips on tumbling.  We hope these vibratory tumbling tips by Bill and Helen Myers will get you more beautiful stones for enjoyment and great sales!  Bill likes to start his stones for tumbling in a rotary or barrel tumbler for about 30 days in 60/90 silicon carbide grit.  This gives a better contour to stones with sharp edges.  This might take 4 or 5 one week cyles. (Remember in the course grit stage, new grit must be added weekly or the grinding, smoothing action will stop due to the grit breaking down quickly.) Before adding new grit, check the stones to see if they need additional tumbling in course grit.  If so, pour off some of the water. (Too much water will slow the process.)  Add a new grit charge (1 Tab. per pound of rock) and re-roll for another cycle, then repeat until most of the load is ready to go to a finer grit.  After contour grinding is completed, the vibratory tumbler completes the tumbling process.  The usual procedure in the vibratory tumbler is 400 grit - 2 days, 600 - 2 days, Prepolish 800 aluminim oxide - 2 days and polish (TXP) 1-3 days or less. (Always check on the polish load as some loads will polish in as little as 12 hours.) NOTE: in all vibratory stages, add a little liquid soap (with no chlorene) to act as a carrier for the abrasive and it will also make the finished stones easier to wash out. (Try 1/4 teaspoon of soap). To start a load in the vibratory tumbler, have the stones and barrel clean, stones should be wet with no excess water. Add the grit and water. (Usual grit to water ratio is one tablespoon of grit to one tablespoon of water). Start the tumbler and check to see how the stones are moving. If additional water is needed, add a teaspoon at a time until proper slurry thickness is evident. Always keep the tumbler lid on to keep down evaporation that dries out the slurry. Check every 12 hours. For the polish load, Add the polish compound slow (1 tablespoon TXP/10 pounds of stone) enough to get even distribution, then for the first 10 - 15 minutes check for slurry thickness. If additional water is needed, add one teaspoon at a time until the proper thickness is evident. When polish stage is completed and stones are washed out, run the stones again for about 3 or 4 hours in soap and water, (burnishing/buffing). PROPER SEPARATING MEDIA: We cannot stress the importance of proper separating media in a tumbler load. This is imperative in either a rotary or vibratory tumbler, and must be maintained in all stages including polish. For our separating media for crystals, wood, sweetwaters, (agate), or that type of material, we use India garnets, as they are nearer to the correct specific gravity. We use these at 35% per barrel load. When we are tumbling cabs, we use mixture of large and small ceramic bits, (media), and glass marbles. This could be Apache tears and use these to rough out for final polishing. Our procedure for cabs is to hand finish down to 320 grit, then go to 600 silicon carbide grit for 2-3 days, then 800 aluminimum oxide for 2-3 days, then polish, 12-24 hours. For cabs we prefer the ceramic bits for separating media as they have a greater specific gravity and tend to keep any flats separated. In the prepolish and polish stages, run on the wet side as it seems to give a better finish. For Apache tears, we use a mixture of 1/2 large ceramic bits, 1/4 small ceramic bits and glass marbles at a ratio of 75-80% media to stones. Thank you Bill and Helen! Your notes are very much appreciated!
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