A parts tumbler is a great tool to have around. But if you don’t use it all the time, it’s hard to justify dropping hundreds of dollars on one. Fortunately, there are many ways to make your own tumbler while tailoring it to meet the need. Because really, as long as you get the medium moving enough to abrade the parts, you’re good.
[Daniele]’s parts tumbler is cool because it’s fairly easy to make, it’s really quiet, and it does the job quickly. This tumbler moves the medium by using an imbalanced plastic fan, which [Daniele] created by drilling a hole through one of the blades and fastening a short bolt and nut through it. If you’ve ever tried to stop a washing machine from walking away, you may be thinking this is a strange idea, because now he’s got a 4500 RPM vibration machine scuttling about the shop. So really, the true genius of this build lies in the great pains [Daniele] took to absorb all that vibration.
He’s got the fan float-mounted on rubber-lined springs and rubber mats under the washers involved in connecting the latching plastic box to the fan. Our favorite anti-vibration features are the twist-lock power connector and the custom silicone feet made from Motorsil D and cap bolts. We don’t know what the medium is here, but it’s got us thinking Grape-Nuts might work. Blow past the break to chew on the build video.
The only problem with this build is that this type of fan isn’t cheap, and using it this way will definitely shorten its life.
Not a fan of this type of tumbling? Here’s one that takes your drill for a spin.
Continue reading “Fan-Based Parts Tumbler Is A Breeze To Build”
Part tumbling is a method of deburring and cleaning relatively small objects. This is done by capturing the parts and media inside a rotating container. The agitation continually moves the media around all surfaces and corners of the part, smoothing them out resulting in a uniform finish. The media can be anything from specialty ceramic shapes to ball bearings to even sand. This process can be done in either a wet or dry condition. Think about the beach, the rocks there are smooth. This is due to the waves repetitively rubbing together the sand and stones which result in smooth round shapes.
[imp22b] recently got into ammo reloading and needed a way to clean his used shell casings. The casings are brass and after a little research online, [imp22b] found that a wet tumbling process with stainless steel pins for media was a DIY proven method for this casing material. He then went on to find a commercially available tumbler to model his build after, in this case a Thumler Model B. There is certainly no need to re-invent the wheel here.
As you can see in the photo, aluminum extrusion was used as the frame. Mounted to the frame are 4 pillow block bearings with shafts between each pair. A motor drives one of the bearing-mounted rods which in turn rotates a container resting on the rods. [imp22b] started with a 1/15 hp motor that he had kicking around but that wasn’t powerful enough so he did have to step up to a 1/3 hp unit. The container is made from off the shelf PVC pipe pieces and holds the media and casings along with some water. A bit of Lemon Shine and Dawn detergents are also added and help clean the parts. After a few hours of tumbling, the casings look pretty darn good.
If you’re interested making your own simpler tumbler, check out this one that uses a hand drill or this one that uses a coffee can.
Don’t throw out that old printer! Not that you would, but even if you’ve already scavenged it for parts, you can use the shell and the rollers to make a rock/coin/what-have-you tumbler. If your printer is part scanner, it might end up looking as cool as [th3_jungle_inv3ntor]’s. You’ll have to laser-cut your own arachnid to supervise from above, though.
Somewhere between having an irreparable printer, being inspired by another tumbler, and the desire to make a mancala set for his sister-in-law, [th3_jungle_inv3ntor] was sufficiently motivated to get out his hacksaw and gut the printer. He used the main paper roller and its motor to do the tumblin’, and a smaller roller to help accommodate different jar sizes.
Aside from adding those sweet blue LEDs, he wired in a toggle switch, a speed control pot, and an LM317 to govern the tumbling rate. Unfortunately, the rocks in [th3_jungle_inv3ntor]’s town are too soft and crumbly, so he can’t make that mancala set after all. But hey, (almost) free stuff tumbler.
No dead printers lying around? If you have a drill and a vise, you could always make a tumbler that way, and nothing is compromised but the peaches jar.
[Chris] finds the average price of rock tumblers insulting. Almost as insulting, in fact, as prepackaged fruit salad made with Chinese peaches. While there may be little he can do about the peaches, he has given the finger to lapidary pricing by making his own tumbler on the very cheap.
Simply put, he drilled a hole in bottom of the peach vessel and then stuck a threaded rod through it. He held the rod in place with a nut and a washer. After securing the proper permits to source sand and water from his property, he put both in the jar along with some old nails that had paint and crud on them. [Chris] put the rod in the chuck of his drill and clamped the drill in his bench vise. Half an hour later, he had some nice, shiny nails. Make the jump to be amazed and entertained. If you prefer using balls, check out this homemade mill.
Continue reading “A Peach of a Homemade Parts Tumbler”
[Jake von Slatt] of the Steampunk Workshop is at again, this time refurbishing a cheap vibratory tumbler that had died after just one project.
The original Eastwood tumbler looked nice, but obviously didn’t go through much life-cycle testing at the company that designed it. Upon taking it apart, [Jake] discovered that the bearings in the motor were shot — after only a few hours of operation! Because of this he decided to start from scratch, keeping only the bowl, lid, and of course, the tumbling media.
[Jake’s] redesign makes use of Volkswagen brake drums for a very heavy duty base, a custom machined ball bearing plate made out of scrap aluminum, a flexible motor coupling made by welding a heavy spring onto two shafts, some more springs to balance the bowl, and a reclaimed dryer motor. It might not look pretty, but we think it’ll last a wee bit longer than the original.
He’s calling it his latest feat of post-apocalyptic engineering by using only parts on hand, and while we’d have to agree that his use of scrap material is impressive, we’d like to see him be able to power his rebuilt Bridgeport Mill off the grid when the apocalypse hits!
As always, he’s made an excellent video describing the project — don’t forget to check it out after the break.
Continue reading “Refurbishing a Vibratory Tumbler with a Dryer Motor”
This parts tumbler was easy to build but it still does a great job of rounding rough edges and polishing the surfaces of parts cut with a CNC machine. You can see that it mounts in a bench vise, and the cooling fans have a magnet which holds the tray in place on the anvil portion of that tool. Since you’re not constantly tumbling parts this makes it very easy to store the unit between uses.
[Neo7CNC] mounted the wooden tumbler plate directly to the motor shaft. This is done with the help of some aluminum stock which bolts to the round wooden plate, and has a hole and set screw for the motor’s keyed shaft. There are four wooden dowels which cradle the plastic coffee jug where the parts go. As a first test he used zinc BB’s that he already had lying around, but has put some steel ball medium on order for future projects.
It’s certainly more robust and powerful than the LEGO ball mill we saw a while ago. Just be careful with motor. Even at a lowly 60 RPM it ended up getting really hot and that’s the reason there’s a heat sink and fan unit included in the build. See it in action after the break.
Continue reading “Easy to build parts tumbler you can add to your shop”