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Polishing Stainless Steel Bolts in Vibratory Tumbler


I am trying to polish stainless steel bolts and washers in vibratory tumblers. We are a relatively small production shop polishing 15000 pieces per week. We are not having much success using a single step polishing process using a polishing media known as Dri-Shine. I would like to process 1200 pieces in a 8 to 12 hour period using a 6 quart capacity machine. The machine has a weight capacity of 22 to 25 pounds maximum load and at that weight produces 3000 vibration cycles per minute.

My question is, If I would like a near mirror finish from a naturally supplied bolt finish, what compound or compounds should I be using to achieve this?

Thank you for your help in advance.

Charles Clark
- Eau Claire, Wisconsin


Lots of luck with your equipment and time cycle. I make industrial systems that still can not achieve the results you are looking for in that time frame. Close but no cigar. You are under powered with machine you mentioned and good polishing results require about 24 hours or more unless you use centrifugal systems which we also make. Even with a high energy system, you may still not achieve the same results you will get from a hand buffed finish. Again close, but no cigar, but it will be closer to 8 hours instead of 24. Media is not as important as heat and rouge. Also you may be able to speed up the times in all processes by going to a 2 step process. SS hardware is a lot rougher than you think. You need a cut down media first or one step and excessive wear, tear , and time.

AF Kenton
Nova Finishing Sytems Inc. - Hatboro, Pennsylvania


Understood. I can accept a 24-hour cycle from raw stainless to completed product. I might be able to accept somewhat longer than that. Can you provide some recommendation for a cut down media and second process media as well as approximate processing time for each?

I am willing to experiment a bit and adjust times. I do not expect to achieve Mirror Finish, But I am looking for a good appearance with a brilliant shine. If time in the equipment must be longer, that is acceptable. Finish product in the greatest concern.

Any help and direction that you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Charles Clark
- Eau Claire, Wisconsin


We spoke via telephone and I sent you some more aggressive media. Please advise how you made out.

AF Kenton
Nova Finishing Sytems Inc. - Hatboro, Pennsylvania

June 11, 2010

how did things come out? I too need to polish a few stainless parts that I had water jetted. I plan to use a rotary tumbler to clean them up. Time is no issue but I have no idea what media to use. I have a pound of small parts at a time and want to get a decent finish on them before brazing s they will polish up afterwards.


Brendan Zimmermann
hobbyist/designer - Ames, Iowa

August 26, 2011

Mr Kenton. You sound like the right person to talk to.
I am trying to start a small cutlery refurbishing business. I have build a vibrating polisher. I am using small porcelain beads but the result is not good. I can not get anyone to help me in getting the right advice on the correct media and compounds to use. Should I use stainless steal balls? from responds to other enquiries I gather that I will not be able to get a mirror finish. My stainless steal cutlery is dull after 7 years of use. I know I will not be able to remove deep scratches with the vibratory polishing. Can you please advice.
Thank you.

Mary Theal
- Port Elizabeth, South Africa
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