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Homemade Jewelry Tumbler

Updated April 17, 2017

A more economical way to polish silver jewellery at home is to make your own homemade jewellery tumbler. Professional jewellery tumblers can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Other jewellery polishing cloths, cleaners and sprays can be messy and not get silver jewellery polished as nicely. If you have quite a lot of silver jewellery, a homemade rock tumbler will save you time and effort with jewellery polishing tasks.

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  1. Purchase a basic rotary rock tumbler. Rock tumblers are often sold online or in department stores during the holidays. Sometimes you can find rock tumblers in the arts and crafts department or in the toy section of stores. A standard-sized rock tumbler used for children's hobbies will work. Prices for this kind of rock tumbling machine range around £32.

  2. Purchase some medium- to small-sized steel shot balls. These can be purchased in packages of 100 in hunting stores and sporting goods areas of department stores. One package should suffice. The price for a package of steel shot balls is usually about £1.90.

  3. Set up the rock tumbler in a sink. Plug the unit in. Make sure that the cord is in a dry area away from water.

  4. Open up the rock tumbling machine and add a capful of Palmolive dish soap.

  5. Add one to two cups of water to the inside of the homemade rock tumbler. Add the package of steel shot balls to the tumbler next.

  6. Place 10 to 20 pieces of silver jewellery that need polishing inside the rock tumbler. This works best for silver items that do not have stones, but will also work for jewellery that contain stones. Use your own discretion depending on the value of the silver jewellery items. Shut the machine lid or door. Turn the switch on. Let the jewellery tumbling machine work and spin the silver jewellery items for about 20 to 30 minutes.

  7. Remove the silver jewellery from the homemade jewellery tumbling machine. Dry the silver jewellery with a soft towel. If the soapy water in the rock tumbler looks clean, you can reuse it for additional silver jewellery polishing without changing.

  8. Tip

    For polishing large amounts of jewellery, you may have to run the homemade jewellery tumbler through these same steps. The steel shot balls will polish between three and five batches of silver jewellery before they become misshapen and need to be replaced. Purchase an additional package of steel shot balls if you need to polish many silver jewellery items frequently.


    Tumbling jewellery instead of rocks is perhaps not the original purpose that the rock tumbler was intended for. Keep the cord out of the water and follow the manufacturer's instructions for machine operation.

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Things You'll Need

  • Basic rotary rock tumbler
  • Steel shot balls
  • Palmolive soap and water

About the Author

Mike Marcoe is a writer/editor with more than 19 years of experience. His clients have included the Educated Investor, the University of Wisconsin, New York Life, the "Encyclopedia of Personal Finance," "Your Retirement Watch" and "The Internet Review of Books." He works as the content manager for a financial education software firm and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Wisconsin.

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