Deburring and polishing stainless steel
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Joined: May 13, 2012
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Deburring and polishing stainless steel
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Posted on Sun May 13, 2012 2:13 pm
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Hi everyone!

I am new to making maille and after many trials and errors, lots of reading, and more cash than I care to think about, I have decided to start a new thread asking about tumbling stainless steel for deburring and polishing.

It seems this is mostly a matter of preference from what tumbler to what media to how long (very intimidating and confusing to the noob like me). I didn't start thinking about how to tumble until after I'd already finished some pieces (bracelets of various weaves which I found here on this site Very Happy). I've looked here for info, on TRL's forum, and several supply websites from the industrial to the hobbyist. I went out and bought a 3lb rotary tumbler from Harbor Freight, scrubbed the barrel with a paste of water and baking soda, checked the belt, lubed the bearings, and began my media test journey.

Here's what I've tried:

Deburring:
Medium grit ceramic media, also from Harbor Freight ran wet with Dawn for 4 hours, then about 8 hours more - results: dirty water, dirty bracelets, no deburring

Medium grit ceramic media, smashed into various sizes from whole pieces to tiny shards ran wet with Dawn for 24 hours - results: dirty water, dirty bracelets, no deburring

Chicken grit (tiny pieces of crushed granite) ran dry for about 8 hours - results: powdery white bracelets (wouldn't rub off with my fingers), no deburring

After this I gave up on trying to deburr the pieces for now and went on to trying to make them shiny.

Polishing:
Crushed walnut from the pet store ran dry for 8 hours, then 8 hours more - results: they were cleaner than when they went in but there was no shine whatsoever

Plain white rice ran dry for 12 hours - results: clean but still not shiny, however, I noted the bracelets feel very smooth

So those are my efforts thus far. I ordered some stainless pin shot online which won't be here until tomorrow so I will try that once it comes in. I've been debating whether or not to get a vibratory tumbler but there's a ton of options for that as well (runs dry, runs wet, runs both, won't run certain types of media, noise level... its a lot to figure out Confused).

Any help, pointers, opinions, suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!! Very Happy

Joined: March 3, 2002
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Location: tres piedras, new mexico

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Posted on Sun May 13, 2012 2:28 pm
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how are you cutting your rings that deburring is an issue for your stainless?


PSA: remember to stretch.
3.o is fixing everything.

Joined: May 13, 2012
Posts: 30
Submissions: 2

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Posted on Sun May 13, 2012 2:45 pm
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I went through several methods for that too... the ones that need deburring were cut with a diamond Dremel wheel. It left little burrs on the 18g I used for one bracelet. Currently, I am using straight aviation snips which don't leave burrs but leave a small gouge on the top of one side of the ring. I am looking into the various ring cutting systems but am waiting to figure this issue out before I drop more money into this.

Joined: March 3, 2002
Posts: 4378
Submissions: 79
Location: tres piedras, new mexico

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Posted on Sun May 13, 2012 3:03 pm
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my suggestion for the 1 bracelet is to chalk it up to a learning experience and allow it to be burred. possibly find a utility or decorative use for it around the house, where the burrs won't be a constant skin irritation.

if you primarily work in handcut stainless, i highly suggest you look into knipex. i use 2 pair of diagonal cutters and a pair of mini bolties.
22, 20ga - dikes
18, 16 - minibolt cutters (get the return spring style, trust me)
they are available online and i have occasionally seen knipex carried at a bigbox hardware store. they, also, leave a small gouge but will last much longer than aviation snips on stainless.

if you are mechanically inclined, you might look into saw cutting with a drill press. it is more expensive, but the cuts are nicer.


PSA: remember to stretch.
3.o is fixing everything.

Joined: May 13, 2012
Posts: 30
Submissions: 2

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Posted on Sun May 13, 2012 3:16 pm
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I actually ordered a Knipex 71 12 200 but returned it because I thought it would be too big for my smaller rings (couldn't fit it into the coil to cut it). I then ordered a Wiss aviation snip that is made for cutting "exotic metals" including stainless steel up to 18g (the biggest I am currently using), however, they don't work. The blades push apart instead of cutting the wire. When I tried to return them because they didn't work I was told that they were made for sheet metal, not wire and I would have to pay the shipping to return them. So instead, they sit in my toolbox waiting for a purpose. So I went on to using the regular straight aviation snips, which seem to be working great so far with no wear on the tool. I really like the look of the Ringinator but can't justify the price on it just yet.

I have thought of simply removing the burrs by hand (very possible, they are tiny and I could get them all off in a few minutes with my Dremel) but I am hard-headed and once I set out to do something one way I try everything to get it done before giving up. Especially since it is something that other people are already doing successfully.

Joined: March 3, 2002
Posts: 4378
Submissions: 79
Location: tres piedras, new mexico

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Posted on Sun May 13, 2012 3:30 pm
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twist the snips into the cut... against the direction they want to go for the wire to slip between the blades. you have to do this with all snips, regardless of metal.

i'm sure other folks will come along with tumbling advice. i know that's what you came in for, but the easiest way to debur is to get clean cuts in the first place, so i went there. Smile

good luck!


PSA: remember to stretch.
3.o is fixing everything.

Joined: May 13, 2012
Posts: 30
Submissions: 2

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Posted on Sun May 13, 2012 3:55 pm
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Thank you Smile Like I said, any help is appreciated

Joined: July 17, 2009
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Location: Denver, Colorado

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Posted on Sun May 13, 2012 6:35 pm
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For stainless, tumble the rings before you weave them. Run overnight wet with stainless mixed shot. Disc shot from TRL works pretty good too (and it's cheap). Tumbling the finished bracelets doesn't work nearly as well as tumbling the rings loose. Coif Smiley



Joined: May 13, 2012
Posts: 30
Submissions: 2

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Posted on Sun May 13, 2012 8:33 pm
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Is that for deburring or polishing? I read some things about pre-polishing the rings making it harder to weave with them as they are slick.

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